13 Best Culinary Schools in the World: A Friendly Guide

Pursuing a culinary career requires not only passion, but also the knowledge and technical skills to thrive in the competitive food industry. Many chefs find that enrolling in a culinary school gives them the necessary tools and expertise to succeed in their chosen field. Formal culinary education provides not only essential cooking techniques, but also the mental discipline to excel under stress.

Attending a top culinary school offers more than just world-class techniques and methods, you’ll also gain access to industry connections, management skills, and even guidance in launching your own restaurant. Tuition costs and your early career salaries may be a consideration, so researching scholarships and ensuring a culinary career is the right path for you is important.

Key Takeaways

  • Culinary schools provide technical skills and mental discipline for a competitive industry.
  • Top culinary schools offer additional benefits such as connections, management skills, and restaurant ownership guidance.
  • Considering tuition costs, early career salaries, and researching scholarships is essential for success.

1. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, USA

The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts has campuses located in the picturesque settings of Boulder, Colorado, and Austin, Texas. This esteemed institution holds the name of the legendary chef Auguste Escoffier, the pioneer of modern French cuisine, who made significant contributions to the culinary world.

As a student at this accredited culinary school, you have the opportunity to specialize in culinary or pastry arts education. Diploma and degree programs are available for both disciplines, along with dedicated career services to help you during your training and after graduation.

At the Boulder campus, you’ll be immersed in the cherished farm-to-table philosophy. This approach teaches you the importance of local resources and sustainable practices, while empowering you to become an exceptional chef under the guidance of Escoffier’s principles and methods.

Financial aid options are available, subject to eligibility, to support you in pursuing your passion at the campus of your choice. Below are the course fees for the Austin campus (excluding books and on-campus room and board):

  • Associate of Applied Science Degree in Culinary Arts: $30,285 + $650 supplies, total $30,935
  • Pastry Arts Diploma: $17,635 + $450 equipment and supplies, total $18,085
  • Online Diploma in Culinary Arts and Operations: $17,770

Embrace the opportunity to learn from the best and excel in the world of culinary arts at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts.

2. Culinary Arts Academy, Switzerland

Culinary Arts Academy in Switzerland, a prestigious member of the Swiss Education Group, is known for its excellent reputation in the realm of culinary education. With a strong focus on both kitchen skills and entrepreneurship, this elite school accepts only 300 students on its two campuses situated in Lucerne’s historic center and lakeside at Le Bouveret.

As a student, you have the option to choose from various study programs ranging from one-term courses to three-year Bachelor’s programs. Some of the offered courses include:

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts
  • Swiss Grand Diploma in Culinary Arts
  • Swiss Grand Diploma in Pastry and Chocolate Arts
  • Diploma in Vegetarian Culinary Arts (starting mid-2020)

Moreover, they plan to introduce a new postgraduate degree program: Master of International Business in Culinary Business Management, either by the end of 2020 or at the beginning of 2021.

The Culinary Arts Academy’s teaching approach blends modern culinary trends with traditional techniques, allowing trainees like yourself to master international cuisine, from foundational basics to fine-dining methods.

In addition to that, you’ll have unique internship opportunities with industry giants such as Ritz Paris and Ritz Escoffier. Scholarships in the form of merit-based and financial support are also available.

The course fees – which include student accommodation and either one or two terms per year – are as follows:

  • Bachelor’s degree program – from 19,543.00 SFr/term
  • Swiss Grand Diploma programs – from 17,000.00 SFr/term
  • Diploma in Vegetarian Culinary Arts – from 17,000.00 SFr/term
  • Master program – starting from 18,850.00 SFr/term

Embrace your culinary journey at Culinary Arts Academy in Switzerland, and let their comprehensive programs help you achieve your aspirations in the culinary world.

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3. Culinary Institute of America, USA

The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) has a rich history, dating back to 1946 when it opened in New Haven, specifically for training World War II veterans. Today, it’s expanded to several locations, including Hyde Park (New York), San Antonio (Texas), Napa (California), and even Singapore.

At the CIA, you can find a wide range of programs to suit your culinary interests. The Hyde Park campus is noteworthy for offering bachelor’s degrees to culinary students, while the California and Texas campuses provide associate degrees.

While studying at the CIA, you’ll have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience at the various on-campus restaurants. The Hyde Park campus stands out with four public restaurants, each specializing in different cuisines like Italian, French, and American. Work opportunities are also available at the California and Texas campuses’ on-site restaurants, but with a smaller variety of cooking styles.

If you’re interested in the business side of the culinary world, the Napa Valley campus hosts a unique Food Business School. This program guides aspiring restaurant owners through challenges in the food industry.

For those who fancy shorter term options, there are programs available for enthusiasts interested in food and wine. These sessions can be a few hours long or span multiple days.

One program offered at the Greystone campus is their 21-month Associate Degree in Culinary Arts. While the tuition rate mentioned in the background information is outdated, you can find up-to-date tuition and fee details on their website, along with scholarships and grants opportunities for eligible culinary arts students across the New York, California, and Texas campuses.

The Culinary Institute of America is also known for its successful alumni, including Anthony Bourdain, who has a scholarship named in his honor. Other famous graduates include Charlie Palmer, David Burke, Michael Mina, and more. These accomplished chefs contribute to the CIA’s reputation as an excellent choice for aspiring culinary artists.

4. Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, France

At Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, you can immerse yourself in the world of culinary arts, particularly French cuisine. As a prestigious institution known for preserving French techniques, this school has produced notable alumni, like the esteemed Julia Child, who graduated in 1949.

You’ll find that Le Cordon Bleu extends its expertise beyond Paris with more than 40 campuses spanning five continents, from Tokyo to Lima. If you’re an amateur chef, you can benefit from one- to four-day courses and workshops offered at most locations.

When it comes to comprehensive culinary training, the Le Grand Diplôme® stands out. This intensive program combines Diplôme de Pâtisserie and Diplôme de Cuisine, providing the foundation and skills you need in classic French culinary techniques.

You have a wide variety of programs to choose from, including:

  • Pastry & Confectionery
  • Cuisine
  • Cuisine of the World
  • Hospitality Management & Gastronomy
  • Wine & Spirits
  • Gastronomy & Nutrition
  • Culinary Arts & Business
  • Continuing Education & Professional Development
  • Gourmet & Short Courses
  • Bakery, Danish Pastries & Artisan Breads
  • Cheese
  • Tourism, Conventions & Events
  • Le Petits Cordons Bleus
  • Online Learning

Beyond the exceptional culinary education, Le Cordon Bleu Paris also offers scholarship opportunities to new applicants and students, regardless of their nationality, making it accessible to aspiring chefs around the world.

5. Institute of Culinary Education, New York, USA

Located in the heart of Manhattan, New York, you’ll find the award-winning Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). Recognized as the best culinary school in 2016 by The Daily Meal, ICE first opened its doors in 1975 as Peter Kump’s New York Cooking School. With additional campus locations in Los Angeles, California, this esteemed institution offers various programs such as:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Pastry & Baking Arts
  • Culinary Management
  • Hospitality Management

ICE hosts around 1,500 classes each year, accommodating all interests and skill levels, from recreational cooking courses to continuing education classes. The New York campus inspires culinary creativity with its cutting-edge facilities, including:

  • The first education-focused bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab
  • An indoor hydroponic herb garden and vegetable farm
  • A Culinary Technology Lab, featuring a tandoor, hearth oven, vertical rotisserie, and modernist equipment
  • Dedicated spaces for mixology and wine studies

To support your educational journey, scholarship opportunities are available at ICE. You can find updated tuition and fees upon request.

The institute boasts an impressive list of notable alumni, such as Vivian Howard, Ed Behr, Rachel Yang, Gail Simmons, Marc Murphy, Mashama Bailey, Elisa Strauss, Zac Young, Denisse Oller, Carl Ruiz, Brad Leone, Catherine McCord, Anne Thornton, Gail Monagham, and countless others. As you can see, ICE has cultivated a rich culinary tradition that you could become part of!

6. Apicius, Italy

Nestled in the heart of Florence, Italy, Apicius International School of Hospitality has been offering exceptional education in the hospitality industry since its inception in 1997. As the first international hospitality school in Italy, Apicius has developed a reputation for providing comprehensive, career-oriented programs in culinary arts, wine, and management.

Throughout their academic journey at Apicius, students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, including the Ganzo, Sorgiva, and Dimora learning labs. These spaces allow students to gain valuable hands-on experience by connecting them with the local community in the field of hospitality, catering, and management. Apicius also boasts their very own pastry shop, Fedora, which highlights the exceptional work of its students.

The School of Food and Wine Studies offers diverse courses in areas such as Baking and Pastry, Culinary Arts, Dietetics and Nutrition, Food and Culture, Food, Family, and Consumer Sciences, Wine and Culture, and Wine Expertise. Additionally, the School of Hospitality includes programs in Hospitality and Tourism Management, Hotel and Lodging Management, Restaurant, Food, and Beverage Management, and Spa Management.

As an affiliate of the Florence University of the Arts, Apicius provides students with the opportunity to earn one of two four-year bachelor’s degrees in either Hospitality Management or Food and Wine Studies. International students can benefit from being part of “The American University in Florence,” allowing them to transfer their coursework to a US bachelor’s degree program.

Apicius truly sets itself apart with its one- or two-year Certificate Career Programs, each boasting a blend of in-class instruction and hands-on field experience. These programs feature four core areas of study, with each area offering a choice of four specialization areas during the second year. Students can even choose to directly enroll in a second-year specialization if desired. This flexibility ensures that the education provided at Apicius is tailored to the unique career goals and aspirations of each individual.

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7. A Glimpse at Westminster Kingsway College, London, UK

Located in the bustling heart of London, Westminster Kingsway College is a renowned institution operating across four campuses: King’s Cross Centre, Victoria Centre, Soho Centre, and Regent’s Park Centre. Being a part of the Capital City College Group, it is highly regarded for its Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs, with a rich history dating back to 1909.

At Westminster Kingsway College, they offer Wine & Spirit Education & Training that cater to individuals of all ages and career stages. For teenagers aged 13 to 16 who aspire to become a chef, the Young Chef Academy provides a five-week Saturday course for £100 per person, including everything needed to kickstart their culinary journey.

For those seeking higher education, the Grand Escoffier Diploma presents six kitchen-based modules. Students can choose either a patisserie track – Breads & Viennoiserie; Pastes, Tarts, Pies & Quiches; and Hot & Cold Desserts; or a culinary track – Pasta, Rice & Seasonal Vegetables; Nose to Tail, Meat, Game & Poultry; and Fish, Shellfish, and Sustainability. To obtain the diploma, students must pass the RSPH Certificate and a minimum of three modules. Course fees are approximately £9,000 for the culinary degree and £8,500 for patisserie.

This esteemed college boasts notable alumni such as Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriot, Kathy Burke, and Michelle Collins, among others. As you explore Westminster Kingsway College, you’ll find yourself walking among the footsteps of these successful industry professionals.

8. Exploring Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts in IL, USA

Located in vibrant Chicago, the School of Culinary Arts at Kendall College is renowned for developing comprehensive culinary skills and fostering an understanding of business management and communication. Their three specialized programs include Culinary Arts, Baking & Pastry, and Hospitality Management.

Remarkably, the Michelin-recommended and Zagat-rated Dining Room at Kendall College is operated and managed entirely by Kendall students. The Culinary Arts program offers diverse courses with Associate of Applied Science degrees supporting aspiring chefs and bakers in acquiring essential skills in areas like nutrition, kitchen operations, and food safety.

The Bachelor of Arts is a four-year commitment, combining intense culinary training during the initial two years with a robust foundation in business skills and general education during the latter two years. In the program’s junior and senior years, you’ll have the opportunity to explore various world cuisines, including Latin, South American, Mediterranean, and Asian. Additionally, you’ll gain hands-on experience through a restaurant internship in Chicago.

For people seeking a career change, wanting to start a small business, or desiring to enhance their current work experience, the Culinary Arts Certificate is an ideal choice. The Baking and Pastry program also offers a variety of degrees and certificate options, such as the A.A.S. in Baking and Pastry, Baking and Pastry Certificate, and Culinary Arts Certificate.

To address the financial needs of students from diverse backgrounds, Kendall College provides financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study opportunities. Terms are tailored to each applicant’s individual circumstances.

Notable alumni of Kendall College include Michael White, Mindy Segal, and José Garces.

9. Culinary Studies at BHMS, Lucerne, Switzerland

Located in the picturesque city of Lucerne, the Business and Hotel Management School (BHMS) is renowned as a top Swiss culinary school. Here, students dive into the exciting realm of culinary arts, mastering essential skills required in professional kitchens, from food preparation to kitchen management.

BHMS provides a comprehensive range of culinary qualifications, starting with a one-year Diploma in Culinary Arts. This program is an introduction to food production, focusing on European cooking techniques, patisserie, and food safety and nutrition.

In the second year, you can further enhance your culinary knowledge with the BHMS Higher Diploma in Culinary Arts. This program delves deeper into advanced cold kitchen techniques, innovative dish creation, and presentation, and even includes a dedicated chocolatier course.

For those eager to continue their culinary journey, BHMS offers a third-year Bachelor in Culinary Arts program. This course sharpens your practical, leadership, and business skills while building on your culinary experience. It covers topics like new product development, molecular cuisine, technology application, team management, and food service management.

Completing the full 3-year course empowers you with the specialized knowledge needed to open your own culinary or catering business. The tuition fees are approximately 32,000 SFR per year, making it a worthwhile investment in your future culinary endeavors.

10. Gastronomicom International Culinary Academy, France

Located in Agde, a picturesque town in Southern France, Gastronomicom International Culinary Academy was established in 2005 by Martine Lessault. Welcoming students from across the globe, the academy offers a variety of programs suitable for both beginners and experienced professionals.

At Gastronomicom, you can choose from three main courses: French cooking, pastry, and French language. These courses are available in different program formats, ranging from hands-on classes and internships for a month to a full year. Opt for the one-month Gourmet or two-month Epicure programs, which allow you to either focus on one course or combine two of the options.

Moreover, the Academy grants Diplomas in Gastronomic Cooking or Pastry, which can be completed in either seven or 12 months. These comprehensive programs include internships at luxury hotel-restaurants in France, complete with accommodations.

As a pastry student, you’ll have the opportunity to attend a masterclass held by Johanna Le Pape, the 2014 world champion of sweet arts, thrice a year (March, May, and October). You can also join cooking and wine workshops. Tuition fees start at 2,440€ for a one-month course and rise to 18,000€ for a one-year program.

11. Culinary Institute of Barcelona, Spain

Located in the vibrant city of Barcelona, the Culinary Institute of Barcelona aims to cultivate creativity, innovation, and leadership in the world of gastronomy. The institute takes pride in its distinctive teaching method. Rather than simply having students follow recipe instructions, it emphasizes the three essential aspects of culinary mastery: ingredient knowledge, technique, and situational adaptability.

The institute offers a variety of courses designed to cater to various skill levels and career objectives, including those who want to become chefs, experienced cooks looking to specialize, or individuals seeking to focus on management. For aspiring chefs who are keen on gaining comprehensive knowledge, the Gran Chef Diploma is the ultimate goal.

To obtain the prestigious Gran Chef Diploma, a total of 1,200 classroom hours are necessary. This 20-month program, priced at 32,000€, not only requires successful completion of the Haute Cuisine Diploma, a culinary specialization, and a management specialization but also a six-month internship at one of the 100 partner restaurants associated with the institute. This diploma equips you with the skills and expertise to make your mark in the culinary world.

12. Hattori Nutrition College, Japan

Caroline Williams

As you explore the culinary world, Hattori Nutrition College in Japan stands out among the best. With its focus on nutrition and health, this school offers a unique approach to culinary arts. You will not only develop exquisite cooking skills but also gain valuable knowledge about healthy food and dietary habits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Top Pastry Schools Worldwide

There are numerous pastry schools around the world known for their excellent programs. Some of the top institutions include Le Cordon Bleu, The French Pastry School, and The Culinary Institute of America.

Best Schools for Chef Courses

When it comes to chef courses, schools like The Culinary Institute of America, Le Cordon Bleu, and The International Culinary Center stand out for their exceptional programs and professional training.

Top European Culinary Schools

Europe is home to many prestigious culinary schools. Some of the best include Le Cordon Bleu in France, The Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland, and Alma in Italy.

Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland vs. Other Schools

Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland is a top culinary institution that offers a range of programs and a unique study environment. While it is comparable to other top schools like Le Cordon Bleu and The Culinary Institute of America, each school has its own strengths and specialties that cater to different students’ needs and interests.

Factors That Make a Culinary School Stand Out

The best culinary schools typically share certain qualities like experienced instructors, state-of-the-art facilities, diverse program offerings, and connections to the industry.

Duration of Culinary Programs at Top Schools

Programs at top culinary schools may vary in length based on the level of education and the type of program. Some courses can be completed in a few months while others, like degree programs, may take up to four years to complete.

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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.
Cassie Marshall
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