When Julia Child took her first culinary arts course in Paris, she was only looking for something to do during the day. But life had bigger plans for her. First, she co-authored a cookbook with friends. Later they opened their own cooking school. When she and her husband returned to the United States, Child embarked on a long and illustrious career as a food writer and TV personality. Today, we know Julia Child as the woman who brought French cuisine home to the United States and made it accessible to the everyday home cook.
Whether you're looking for a hobby or a new career, a culinary arts course can open some surprising doors. And if you're living abroad, you have a unique opportunity to learn your country's cuisine from the people who invented it. What sorts of courses are available in your country? How much do they cost? How long do they take? And what can different kinds of courses prepare you to do? The culinary arts is a diverse and expanding field, and, whatever your interest, you can be part of it. It all starts with the right education.
What Kinds of Culinary Arts Programs Are There?
There are almost as many different kinds of cooking schools as there are cuisines. You can take a seminar that lasts a few hours or a single day. There are mini-courses that may last a few days or weeks. If you're looking for something to help you into the field, you can study for a certificate, a diploma, or even a degree.
SEMINARS, WORKSHOPS, AND SHORT COURSES
If you're a hobbyist or looking for a fun afternoon learning new skills, you might like a short seminar. You could learn how to make one specific type of food, like pastry. Alternately, you might get an introduction to the cuisine of a certain region. You might also learn a new set of cooking techniques. Some courses may be for credit, but most are for the joy of learning. Some places to look for short culinary arts courses include community centers, cultural centers, and adult education organizations. Cooking schools may also offer short courses for people who are interested in learning new things but aren't looking to go pro. And of course, you will find many schools around the world devoted to teaching the enthusiastic hobbyist.
DIPLOMAS AND CERTIFICATES
Diplomas and certificates are one way for people already working in the field to build their skills and get ahead. They're also a good way to get your foot in the door. You can find diploma and certificate programs at commercial schools for restaurant and hospitality management. Many professional cooking schools also offer them. How long does it take? It depends. Most diploma programs will take less than a year to complete. Many teach professional kitchen skills and techniques, such as knife skills and hands-on food prep techniques. This option aims at increasing students' employability, so quite a few of them offer internships and externships as well.
If you're looking for a way into the kitchen, or even into management, a degree in culinary arts may be the way to go. An associate's degree is the most commonly chosen option. It takes two years to complete, and many programs cater to working professionals specifically in course design. Bachelor's degrees and Master's degrees in the culinary arts are also available. In addition to kitchen skills, degree-seeking culinary arts students may learn about food safety and sanitation, menu development, kitchen staff management, and wine studies. Some Bachelor's and Master's degree programs may also include general skills like writing and math.
Where to Study the Culinary Arts Abroad
Many countries have schools and institutes where you can study local or international cuisine. You can also study the culinary arts online. Where can you study the culinary arts abroad? Wherever your imagination takes you.
Are you living or working in Africa? Then you know that this continent boasts hundreds of unique regional cuisines. Take advantage of where you are, and learn about some of them.
FAIM D'EPICES, MOROCCO
Faim d'Epices in Marrakech offers hands-on workshops in various aspect of Moroccan cooking. The school's name means "hunger for spices," and Morocco's unique spices are just one thing you can learn. This school offers full-day and half-day workshops for beginning, intermediate, and advanced hobbyists. Faim d'Epices offers classes in English and French.
AFRICAN RELISH, SOUTH AFRICA
African Relish is a recreational cooking school in Prince Albert, South Africa. You can take a full-day or half-day course on such themes as vegetarian cooking and traditional cuisine from the Karoo region. They offer scheduled classes but are also willing to put classes together for students on the fly. One of the perks is English language teaching.
Would you like to study Chinese cuisine right at the source? How about Korean, or even Vietnamese? You can, and there are plenty of programs to help you.
THE HANOI COOKING CENTER
The Hanoi Cooking Center in Vietnam is a well-organized school for hobbyists in the city of Hanoi. They offer classes in both Vietnamese and international cuisine for individuals, groups, and children. You can learn how to make specific dishes, such as spring rolls, or focus on a subset of Vietnamese cuisine, such as food from the south coast region. Their website doesn't explicitly say that they offer classes in English. However, the website itself is in flawless English, and the classes appear to cater to English speakers.
ROYAL KOREA CUISINE
Are you crazy for kimchi? Bananas for banchang? Then you might enjoy a class from the Royal Korea Cuisine school in Seoul. You can take a one-off workshop, where you learn to prepare a series of traditional dishes. You can also take a nine-week certificate course. Classes are in Korean, with translators.
BEIJING COOKING SCHOOL
The Beijing Cooking School in Beijing teaches traditional Cantonese, Hunan, and Szechuan cooking. They do offer courses in English. You can take single three-and-a-half hour classes, or purchase a package of ten. There are also special classes for making noodles and dim sum.
Some of the world's most beloved cusines come from Europe. And if you're in Europe, you can learn them too.
THE AWAITING TABLE, ITALY
Do you love pasta? Would you like to learn how to make it yourself? The Awaiting Table in Lecce, Italy can teach you that and more. These classes, aimed at the hobbyist, include day-long and week-long courses. You'll learn not just how to make pasta, but also how to shop for produce and make a traditional Italian tomato sauce from scratch. There are wine courses and special courses such as Jewish-Italian cooking. And it all takes place in the lovely, historic town of Lecce.
KITCHEN IN THE CASTLE, IRELAND
Irish cuisine? Sure, but at this cooking school located in a real Irish castle, you'll learn a variety of world cuisines. Asian, Italian, Spanish, Middle Eastern -- the world is your oyster to cook and to eat. And you can do it all from inside an eight-hundred-year-old Castle in the Irish countryside. Choose between day-long and evening classes.
LE CORDON BLEU, FRANCE
If you're looking to enter the field professionally, you'll need a top-notch education. And Le Cordon Bleu in Paris is the gold standard. Le Cordon Bleu has been training French and international students for over 120 years. The Grande Diplome program is highly competitive. They only admit four students per year. The course is a grueling 36 hours per week for nine months. Graduates typically work in restaurants, as food critics, open their own restaurants, and more. Le Cordon Bleu also offers diplomas and degrees in hospitality management, business management, and more.
LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Latin America and the Caribbean are increasingly popular places to be an expat. And lucky you, this area boasts a stunning diversity of regional cuisines. Would you like to learn how to cook them like a native?
MAUSI SEBESS ESCUELA DE COCINA, ARGENTINA
If you have a working knowledge of Spanish, you can take advantage of a number of different programs at this cooking school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Mausi Sebess offers short courses in various world cuisines. Additionally, they offer professional courses for people who work in or want to work in the restaurant industry. The duration of these courses is anywhere from a few hours to several months.
THE INTERNATIONAL KITCHEN, PERU
If you're visiting Machu Pichu, why not indulge in a combination tour and cooking class? The International Kitchen offers "cooking vacations," which include introductions to various Peruvian cuisines and field trips. These classes last four to six nights and include transportation, food, and lodging, too.
CARIBBEAN INSTITUTE OF HOSPITALITY, JAMAICA
There are plenty of Caribbean cooking classes for hobbyists throughout the islands. But you can get a fine professional culinary arts education in the Caribbean as well. The Caribbean Institute of Hospitality is one of the places you can do it. You can study for a culinary arts certificate or diploma in areas such as Culinary Management, Culinary Arts, and more. You can also learn to design wedding cakes and make pastry. And you can do it all in beautiful Jamaica.
the middle east
The Middle East hosts a large number of expatriate workers. And if you're among them, you're in a unique position to take advantage of some unique programs.
SCAFA CULINARY ARTS SCHOOL, DUBAI
Scafa offers a wide range of courses, from professional training to fun classes for amateurs. Their professional courses prepare students for certification and local guild membership. There are full-time courses and a part-time, three-month intensive course for students who want to enter the field but cannot study full time. Dubai is an international center of business, and one of the safest cities in the world. It is also home to a large number of expatriates from around the globe.
No tour of world culinary arts schools would be complete without a visit to Oceania. If you find yourself in Australia, New Zealand or Polynesia, you can visit these schools in person.
VANILLA ZULU, AUSTRALIA
Vanilla Zulu, located near Brisbane, offers courses on several different levels. Amateurs can take three-hour workshops in various world cuisines like Thai and Italian. You can focus on specific kinds of cooking, like meats or desserts. They also offer a six-week course in chef skills.
AKAROA SCHOOL OF COOKING, NEW ZEALAND
New Zealand is famous for the kiwi fruit, the kiwi bird, and providing the lush setting for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movies. And if you find yourself there, you can take some terrific cooking classes, too. The Akaroa School of Cooking offers half-day seminars for enthusiastic amateurs. You can choose from a variety of world cuisines, seasonal cooking, desserts, and more. The Akaroa School is on New Zealand's south island.
Let's Get Cooking!
If you're living abroad, you're in a great position to immerse yourself in local culture -- and that includes local cuisine. Wherever you find yourself in the world, you'll find workshops, seminars, programs and schools waiting to teach you. Do you want a fun way to fill up a few hours? Do you want to learn some new skills? Or are you looking for an entry point to start a new career? Either way, a culinary arts education can help you meet your goals. And you'll find quality programs in every corner of the world.