Art of Cooking: Coursework Summary

The art of cooking is generally studied through certificate and degree programs. Coursework helps students develop cooking and baking skills and prepares them for careers in restaurants and bakeries.

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Essential Information

Community colleges and cooking schools most commonly offer culinary arts certificate and associate's degree programs that include coursework in cooking. These hands-on programs provide students with opportunities to practice their cooking skills during an internship or externship, as well as in the classroom. Students sometimes also prepare for food safety certification, such as the ServSafe exam offered by the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

Programs usually include an overview culinary arts course that introduces students to food preparation, basic cooking, recipe design and sanitation. Associate's degree programs often cover advanced topics, such as supervisory management, hospitality purchasing and types of cuisines.

Here is an outline of common concepts taught in cooking courses:

  • Cooking techniques
  • Sanitation and safety
  • Pastry arts
  • Serving etiquettes
  • Nutrition and diets
  • Food presentation
  • Dining room planning

Graduates may go on to work as cooks, baking assistants or chefs. Those interested in food service management may continue their education with a bachelor's degree in culinary arts management, which may provide the opportunity to specialize in a type of cuisine. Admission to such a program may require a culinary arts associate's degree.

List of Common Cooking Courses

Culinary Arts Course

Introductory courses will teach basic cooking skills and techniques. Preparation of stocks, vegetables and meats may be introduced, along with the fundamental concepts of table service and kitchen sanitation. Coursework may also introduce recipe creation and menu design, which require a demonstration of proficiency in cooking and service on a large scale.

Baking and Pastry Course

Baking and pastry courses begin by covering the principles of baking science, including ingredients, measurement and scaling. Purchasing, cost control and production management may also be introduced during this course. Students learn how to make breads, cakes, pies, tarts and puff pastries, while advanced coursework covers classical patisserie and artisan baking techniques. Students may have the opportunity to prepare showpieces.

Table and Beverage Service Course

This course will introduce the various types of table service and standards for wait service personnel. Students may practice in lab settings, learning French, American and Russian table service, as well as banquet service. The proper ways of serving wine, along with an understanding of types and regions of wine would be covered here. Additionally, students will be taught the principles of dining room organization, management and supervision.

Nutrition Course

This course serves to introduce students to basic nutritional guidelines and topics, such as proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. A variety of diet types will be studied, with an eye toward preparation of healthy food. The diversity of the eating public and varying niche-market foods, such as vegan, ethnic or gluten-free foods, will be explored.

Garde Manger and Catering Course

Garde manger courses cover the preparation and presentation of cold food, generally for catering events. This food preparation is usually done for buffets or appetizer and dessert presentations. Canapés, terrines, salad and appetizer preparations are common topics, and students will practice buffet layout and menu planning.

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