French Cooking Schools: How to Choose

Aspiring chefs can pursue studies in the French culinary tradition at a number of cooking schools across the nation. Programs in French cooking are available for amateur cooks as well as those seeking careers as restaurant chefs.

Very few cooking schools in the U.S. focus solely on the French culinary style. However, a number of culinary schools pattern their programs after French cuisine preparation, and most cooking schools offer courses in this type of cuisine.

Schools with French Cooking Programs

These schools offer programs in French cooking, which often include hands-on experience in campus labs and kitchens.

College/University Location Institution Type Programs Offered Tuition 2015-2016*
International Culinary Center New York, NY < 2-year, private Certificate $47,900
L'Academie de Cuisine Gaithersburg, MD < 2-year, private Certificate $29,775
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Austin, TX < 2-year, private Diploma, Associate's degree $17,450 (culinary arts diploma), $21,225 (pastry arts diploma), $29,300 (associate's degree)
Le Cordon Bleu Multiple states 2-year, private Certificate, Diploma Varies by location

*Sources: School websites and National Center for Educational Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Students should consider these aspects when choosing a school:

  • Certain locations, such as New York or San Francisco, allow for a wider range of food experiences and culinary techniques, and may boost entry into a career.
  • Look for a school that partners with restaurants in their area to allow hands-on experiences.
  • Students may wish to look for a program that instructs students in how to plan, build and run a restaurant from a managerial perspective.
  • Find out if a program has a professional-grade kitchen and equipment that parallels what students will encounter in the field. Schools may even feature a student-run restaurant to further give students real-world experience.

French Culinary Arts Curriculum

Students enrolled in French cooking programs start with the basics and eventually move to full immersion in the French culinary arts. Some schools provide state-of-the-art kitchens and student-run restaurants, allowing students to learn in a true professional restaurant setting. Upon graduation, alumni networks and partnerships with restaurants and cooking societies help students launch their careers in the French cooking industry.

French cooking programs are available from the certificate to associate's degree levels. Students should look for a program that offers hands-on experience, in addition to a professional-grade kitchen where students can learn skills needed to work in a restaurant setting.


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