The World’s 12 Best Culinary Schools

If you have plans on entering the culinary world, then one of the best ways that you can set yourself up for success is by going to culinary school.

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Most schools start with a certificate program. If you'd like to take the next step, it's an associate degree. Finally an aspiring chef can earn a culinary arts degree or advanced degree in culinary management. A culinary student seeking to become an executive chef would need a degree of this type to work in the culinary industry. This even goes for a pastry chef.

Besides allowing you to gain plenty of experience in both theoretical and practical training, it’ll also ensure that you have a certification under your belt, which will be extremely beneficial when you look for work.

Sure, though there certainly isn’t a “one size fits all” way of being able to enjoy a fulfilling career in the food industry, even the most talented chefs will need to attend regular food training throughout their career, and that cooking commitment often starts with attending a culinary institution.

Whether you have a love for baking and want to specialize in it, or you simply want to become a cooking all-rounder, attending a culinary school can open doors that might have otherwise remained closed. So much so, that it is the norm for recent culinary school leavers to gain graduate roles in well-paying roles including head chef, sous chef, and more.

If you currently have plans to attend a culinary school, or you’re conducting some research to gain a feel for whether or not signing up to culinary school will be the best route for you to go down, then this article is for you.

Below, not only are we going to be talking you through a roundup of the leading culinary schools in the world right now, but we’ll also provide you with some helpful tips and insights to help you begin to think about what type of culinary school will be best for you in your journey to becoming a professional chef. Let’s begin.

What is a Culinary School?

A culinary school is an educational institution that is primarily focused on training its students to enter the culinary world of work as cooks, chefs, and more.

Though courses can vary from school to school, all culinary schools share the same purpose of preparing students to become professional chefs, while also helping to hone in on their natural talents. 

Some of the most common topics and training covered by a culinary arts program include food services, how to cook various types of meat, presentation of dishes, as well as baking.

Along the way, most culinary schools also include a fully paid internship program that allows budding chefs to gain hands-on experience in a real restaurant setting, in order to help them get a feel for what it will be like when the time comes to work professionally.

Besides plenty of practical and hands-on training, culinary schools will also cover a variety of other important aspects of working as a professional chef, including inventory management and food safety and hygiene.

Not only does this help students to become well-prepared for their first graduate role, but it also helps to develop a variety of transferable skills that can be applied to leadership roles, too.

Plus, just like we touched upon above, most culinary schools offer a variety of different programs that each range in duration and course content.

This will allow students to be able to tailor their degree or course to align with their future career goals and ambitions, whether that be becoming a head sous chef or managing a hospitality team.

Upon completion of a culinary school program, new graduates will be equipped and ready to enter the professional environment or further their culinary education with postgraduate studies.

What Are The Best Culinary Schools?

1. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, USA

The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is by far one of the most prestigious culinary schools in the entire world, if not the best.

It is well known for creating the first accredited online culinary course and has campuses that are situated in Colorado, Boulder, and Austin, Texas, as well as a variety of different online courses that can be taught long distance.

The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts was first established in 2011, after the acquisition of the Rockies in Boulder, which is a city in the state of Colorado.

Then, sooner after, the school acquired a second location situated in Colorado, in the city of Boulder. The school's name is inspired by the legendary French chef known as Auguste Escoffier, who is renowned for creating the kitchen brigade system, a la carte menu, and is also referred to as the father of modern-day cuisine.

The school offers a range of different culinary professional programs, from standard culinary arts to more specialized areas, including pastry arts and an online diploma that is fully accredited.

Regardless of course, though, the ethos of the school can be found throughout, with each course following something that is known as the “farm to table” philosophy, which places heavy emphasis on ensuring that students are engrained to have a focus on both sustainability, as well as how to source local suppliers.

Though most students choose to self-fund themselves, it is possible to gain financial support during the application process stage, and this is available to students of all ages. However, to give you an insight into figures, here are the prices of each course that this school offers (excluding boarding/book fees):

  1. Online Diploma in Culinary Arts and Operations: $17,770
  2. Pastry Arts Diploma: $17,6355
  3. Associate of Applied Science Degree in Culinary Arts: $30,285

Interested in learning more about this school? Find their website here.

2. Culinary Institute of America, USA

The Culinary Institute of America is another culinary arts school that is widely recognized as being one of the very best in the world - not just in the states!

With over 50,000 well-accomplished chefs and food industry professionals as part of its alumni network (and counting), the Culinary Institute of America has a far-reaching legacy that, though ever-growing, started off as an unlikely dream of two bold women.

Founded way back in 1946 by Frances Roth and Katharine Angell, Frances Roth was originally an attorney based in Connecticut, though her destiny led her into the world of culinary arts!

To this day, Roth is still widely recognized as being one of the first pioneers of culinary education, as she was determined to create the largest and most well-respected culinary education institution in the United States.

Thanks to the help of Roth’s co-founder, Katharine Angell, Mrs. Roth was able to bring her culinary vision to fruition, and thus the Culinary Institute of America was born.

Interestingly enough, when the Culinary Institute of America was first established in 1946, it actually went by the name of the New Haven Restaurant Institute and was located in New Haven, Connecticut. At the time of the school’s opening, the New Haven Restaurant Institute was the only of its kind across the entirety of the United States! Impressive or what?

At the time of its establishment, the school was initially only intended to specifically train World War II veterans who had returned from war and had prior experience working in the culinary arts. The first batch of enrolments consisted of just 50 students, while the school’s faculty consisted of one baker, one chef, and one dietitian.

Ever since those humble beginnings, the school has gone on to be known as the Culinary Institute of America, and has various campus locations both nationally and internationally, including New York, San Antonio, California, and even Singapore.

The three campus locations based in the United States each offer associate, accredited degrees, however, only the New York-based campus offers students the chance to gain a bachelor’s degree with honors.

What’s more, each different campus specializes in different branches of culinary education, which offers students the opportunity to focus on the area of culinary arts that they want to pursue.

As an example, the Napa Valley state that is situated in California offers a Food Business School that helps budding restaurant and food chain owners learn the ins and outs of what it takes to run a successful food business. 

On the flip side, the New York-based campus is able to offer students the chance to gain hands-on experience working in public restaurants and is well known for having a focus on French, American, and Italian cuisines.

Additionally, besides the accredited degrees, the school also offers a variety of short courses that can be taken by anyone that’s interested, from 1-day wine connoisseur courses, all the way to specialized baking courses- there’s plenty of beneficial programs to choose from for people that want to improve their culinary skills, but perhaps do not wish to commit to the length of a degree-based culinary program.

Want to know more? Discover more about their courses and history here.

3. Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, France

It doesn’t take a cooking fanatic to have heard of the legendary Le Cordon Bleu School, which originated in France as a Parisian cooking school, initially. Nowadays, Le Cordon Bleu has campuses located in Paris, the United Kingdom, Bangkok, Australia, and even Canada, and is one of the most iconic culinary schools in the world.

If you’re a budding chef with an interest in French cuisine, then this school might be just the place that you’re looking for.

For more than a century, Le Cordon Bleu has been a pioneering change in the culinary world, evolving from its humble beginnings as a Parisian cook school, to an international network of innovative institutes hellbent on helping students to become the best that they can be.

If this sounds like the place for you, then you’ll be able to obtain the infamous Le Grand Diplome Le Cordon Bleu, which is an accredited certification that is recognized around the world by food professionals.

Not only that, but Le Cordon Bleu are renowned for their philosophy based upon the ideals of excellence and perfection, and this is applied to all areas of their culinary teachings.

Armed with this industry expertise under your belt, you’ll be able to apply these ideas taught by Le Cordon Bleu and apply them to your professional work with a distinctive touch of Parisian refinement.

However, besides the legendary Le Grand Diplôme Le Cordon Bleu, the school also offers a great variety of workshops and four-day courses that are all targeted towards amateur chefs that are looking to gain some qualifications, as well as for cooks and hobbyists who simply want to hone their skills in one specific area of culinary arts.

These short courses include the areas of cheese, bakery, tourism, hospitality management, wine and spirits, the cuisine of the world, and much more!

Interested in learning more? Click here for their website.

4. Culinary Arts Academy, Switzerland

Located in scenic Switzerland, the Culinary Arts Academy is an institution that is well-known for its unique teaching style that places heavy emphasis on entrepreneurship and skills.

A member of the Swiss Education Group, the Culinary Arts Academy has a reputation for being one of the best Culinary Arts schools in Europe, and is also infamous for its extremely competitive application process, as the school only accepts 300 students annually!

The Culinary Arts Academy offers a variety of different culinary courses for prospective students to choose from, including a Bachelor’s degree in culinary arts, a Swiss grand diploma in culinary arts, a Swiss grand diploma in pastry and chocolate arts, as well as a Diploma in Vegetarian culinary arts, which was introduced in the second half of 2020.

Offering an innovative educational approach that helps to prepare students for the world of work while also placing a heavy emphasis on traditional Swiss culinary traditions, the Culinary Arts Academy offers a rich and expansive curriculum that has seen its alumni work across the globe as restaurant owners, sous chefs and more.

Not just that, but alongside studies, students also have the opportunity to intern at various restaurants, including the famous Ritz restaurant in Paris.

To give you an idea of how much it would cost to attend the Culinary Arts Academy in Switzerland, check out the following:

Current course fees (including student accommodation fees):

  • Bachelor’s degree program – around 19,543.00 SF
  • Swiss Grand Diploma programs – around 17,000.00 SF
  • Diploma in Vegetarian Culinary Arts – around 7,000.00 SF
  • Master program – around 18,850.00 SF

Interested in shortlisting this school as a potential contender for your studies? Learn more here.

5. Institute of Culinary Education, New York

This New York-based culinary school was named the best culinary school in the world back in 2016 by a well-known food association known as The Daily Meal.

With more than 40 years of culinary experience, the Institute of Culinary Education was founded in 1975 by Peter Kump and offers a variety of different courses that are extremely well-regarded within the culinary world.

Giving students the option to choose between either 6 to 13-month career programs, the Institute of Culinary Education offers culinary programs stretching from pastry and baking arts, hospitality and hotel management, cake decorating, artisan bad baking, as well as culinary and health-supportive culinary arts.

The Institute of Culinary Education has two campuses that are based in New York and Los Angeles, which makes the school an ideal place for people who have a passion for city life - as these campuses are located in two of the most exciting and diverse cities in the world!

Not only that, but thanks to the prime locations of each campus site, it means that the Institute of Culinary Education is also able to offer students the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in local restaurants.

This school is also renowned for its global curriculum, knowledgeable team of instructors, and a clear focus on entrepreneurship, which makes the Institute of Culinary Education (otherwise known as ICE) a fantastic choice for amateur chefs and hobbyist cooks that want to hone their culinary skills without dealing with the intensity of a degree.

Interested? Discover their website here.

6. Westminster Kingsway College, London

Westminster Kingsway College is another leading culinary school that has made it onto our list and is a culinary arts school that is located right in the heart of busy London.

Boasting four campuses that stretch across various hotspot locations in London (King’s Cross Center, Soho Center, Regent’s Park Center, and Victoria Center) the school offers its students the ability to develop their culinary skills while being able to immerse themselves in London culture.

First founded in 1999, Westminster Kingsway College has over 20 years of experience within the culinary education sector, and its reputation has gone from strength to strength ever since its first establishment.

Unlike some of the other most prestigious culinary schools in the world, Westminster Kingsway College has a focus on academic accessibility, which is why all of their programs are designed to be able to cater to professional chefs looking to develop a particular culinary skill, all the way to cooking beginners that have yet to put on their first apron.

The vast range of courses that Westminster Kingsway College starts with something known as the Young Chef Academy, which is a course specifically designed for teenagers aged between 13 to 16 years old with little to no prior cooking experience.

This program is also pretty affordable and costs £100 (which is around $141) for the entirety of the 5-day course, and is designed to equip little chefs in the making with everything they need to successfully begin the journey to becoming a professional in the food industry.

However, for the adults that want to attend, Westminster Kingsway College also offers a well-regarded and respected qualification within the culinary community known as the Grand Escoffier Diploma, which is essentially a full-time course that will be able to thoroughly prepare students for life working as a professional chef and consists of six different modules that cover a variety of different food areas.

Once enrolled, students will be able to decide whether or not they would like to commence studies in either the area of patisserie education or culinary education.

If a student would like to focus their studies on patisserie, then the modules will consist of the following:

  • Tarts, pies, and quiches
  • Bread and viennoiseries
  • Hot and cold desserts

However, if a student decides that they would like to focus their attention on culinary education instead, then the modules will consist of the following:

  • Nose to tail food preparation
  • Meat, game, and poultry
  • Fish, shellfish, and sustainability

While undertaking these studies at Westminster Kingsway College, in order to achieve the diploma, students will need to pass at least three modules, including the RSPH certificate in order to successfully receive their diploma.

Additionally, course fees vary slightly depending on whether a focus on patisserie or culinary is chosen. For the culinary degree, the course is (at the time of writing) £9,000, which equates to around $12,740.

In contrast, for the patisserie-focused degree, the price at the time of writing is around £8500, which equates to around $12,030.

Like the sound of this school? Check their website out here.

7. Paul Bocuse Institute, Lyon, France

If you feel like spending a few years in Europe while you undertake your culinary studies, then one of the best places that you can choose to attend is the Paul Bocuse Institute, which is situated in the beautiful city of Lyon, in France.

This contemporary culinary school is part of a group of internationally recognized European educational institutions and prides itself on its teaching excellence, culinary innovation, and modern training practices.

The Paul Bocuse Institute also puts a primary focus on entrepreneurial, focus-lead teaching classes that aim to equip students with all of the skills they will need to be able to succeed within a professional environment, all while allowing students to hone in on their own personal and creative cooking style.

As far as courses go, the Paul Bocuse Institute offers a variety of different options to choose from, including a 3-year undergraduate bachelor’s degree program, a 4-year bachelor’s degree program with honors, as well as a master’s degree that is 5 years in length.

Alongside these three main courses, the school also offers a variety of courses that are shorter in length, which aims to give amateur chefs an opportunity to focus on an area of cooking they are particularly interested in, or an area in which they would like to become more skilled, such as baking.

Additionally, another reason why the Paul Bocuse School stands out as one of the best in the world is due to its “split” teaching style, which is especially ideal for budding chefs that want to enter the professional world after graduation.

Alongside studies at the Paul Bocuse campus based in Lyon, 50% of the bachelor’s courses are spent gaining professional experience working within a variety of restaurants (including a 5-star hotel) that are all owned by the Paul Bocuse School.

Plus, armed with its very own education center based solely upon food and hospitality, the Paul Bocuse School is able to conduct research on sustainable food management practices, including the importance between food and humanity, and how to overcome sourcing and sustainability challenges that are currently present within the world.

This not only demonstrates the school’s commitment to food management practices but also displays its expertise and excellence - so it’s easy to see why it made it onto our shortlist!

Whether you plan on becoming a head chef or the owner of a restaurant, the Paul Bocuse Institute is a fantastic place to study and offers a wide range of courses that span from foodservice and cooking, all the way to hospitality management.

Would you like to learn more about this school? Click through to their website here.

8. Apicius International School of Hospitality, Florence, Italy

Rich in heritage and history, the Apicius International School of Hospitality is based in the picturesque city of Florence in Italy, and was first established way back in 1997. Since its beginnings, the Apicius International School of Hospitality has become a world leader in culinary education and is best known for its courses that focus on wine, traditional cuisine, and hospitality.

Set in the beautiful city of Florence, which is a city that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, the Apicius International School of Hospitality is the perfect place to study if you want both culinary excellence and a picturesque city at your fingertips to explore!

Not only does the Apicius International School of Hospitality have a variety of state of the art facilities to teach from, but it also has a wide range of learning laboratories, including Dimora and Ganzo, that provide students with the opportunity to connect with the local community and gain experience in both catering and hospitality.

Not only that, but the Apicius school also has its very own sweet treats and pastry shop that allows students to not only gain experience in a fast-paced, customer-focused environment but also provides them with the opportunity to display their culinary talents.

Its School of Good and Wine provides all of its students with a variety of courses to choose from, whether that be a short course, workshop, or bachelor’s degree.

Not only that, but the Apicius International School of Hospitality also gives its students the opportunity to transfer their studies to the USA, where they can complete their bachelor’s degree in the American culinary school of their choice.

Besides giving students the flexibility to complete their studies in different countries/schools, the school also offers a variety of Certificate Career Programs, which are extremely popular due to their teaching style that is split between classroom learning and hands-on experience within local restaurants.

Like the sound of this school and want to learn more about their culinary courses? Check out their website here.

9. New England Culinary Institute, Montpelier, Vermomt

The New England Culinary Institute is situated in the heart of New England and is one of America’s leading culinary educational institutions, and the main reason for this is its entirely unique teaching style.

For more than 27 years, the New England Culinary Institute has been the first choice for culinary students around the world due to its focus on small classes, personalized teaching, and a variety of restaurants that give students the chance to gain hands-on experience with real customers.

Thanks to this hands-on and personal teaching experience, New England Culinary Institute graduates find themselves sought after completion of their studies, with many restaurants and hospitality services valuing the passion and skill instilled in them due to their time spent at the school.

While completing their courses, students can enjoy state-of-the-art facilities situated across two campuses, the first one situated in Vermont#s capital city Montpelier, and the second one situated in the idyllic Essex.

Across both campuses, all students are given the opportunity to gain hands-on experience training in the New England Culinary Institutes owned and operated restaurants and retail stores, which not only helps to prepare students for life after graduation but also provides them with a chance to gain skills working with customers and honing their skills.

Regardless of what type of degree is being undertaken, in order to pass all students must complete a paid internship within either one of the New England Culinary Institutes owned restaurants, or with a local restaurant in the area.

There are a variety of different degrees available to choose from, and the New England Culinary Institute offers courses that span from baking and pastry arts, restaurant management, and, of course, the culinary arts.

If you are interested in gaining a Bachelor’s degree, then this type of certification is only available for the culinary arts and restaurant management courses. For the other types of courses available, alternative certifications are awarded.

Studies don’t have to end there, either. Alongside a degree or course, the New England Culinary Institute offers students the chance to enhance their learning if they so desire. While undertaking their full-time course, students can opt to choose a “specialization” that will be an area of study that the student is passionate about, and would like to gain more experience within.

Generally speaking, though, these specialty modules are intended to help students gain more insight and knowledge into a specific career focus. For example, there is an option to choose a specialty module that covers everything there is to know about sustainability within the food industry.

This module can be conducted alongside the full-time course without any disruptions or overlapping of class timetable and will allow the student to learn about a variety of food sustainability best practices, including how to source local foods. This is ideal for students who wish to go into restaurant management upon graduation.

As a side note, if you do choose to attend the New England Culinary Institute, then you’ll be in good company! This school has produced some well-known culinary powerhouses - most notably, the founder of the delicious ice cream company Ben and Jerry!

Interested in learning more about this school? Click here to visit their website.

10. Hattori Nutrition College, Japan

The Hattori Nutrition College is one of the most celebrated culinary schools in Asia, and for good reason, too! One of the most sought-after schools for prospective students, the Hattori Nutrition College was first established way back in 1939, by a well-known chef known as Yukio Hattori.

Just like the name might have already suggested, besides courses within the culinary arts, the Hattori Nutrition College also provides students with an in-depth knowledge of nutrition and dietary needs that is based on the practice of Shokuiku, which focuses on food education.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the Hattori Nutrition College prides itself on its values of knowledge, excellence, and health, which are each applied to each course offered by the school.

According to the president of the school, the Hattori Nutrition College education system is based upon a clear focus on nutrition and health, and how these two elements can be incorporated into their professional work as a chef.

Throughout the course of their studies, students will be given the opportunity to gain experiences both in theory and practice and will be taught how to create flavorsome and delicious food without compromising on both the health and safety of the environment and the consumer.

The main course offered by the school is the Nutrition Course, which aims to teach its students how to create food dishes that will be able to maintain one’s health, while also being tasty and delicious.

This course is mainly taught via the facilities of the school, although practical training is also provided in order to help the students develop their technique and ability to work under pressure.

If you’re interested in learning more about this school, find their website here.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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