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Learn to become a chef at one of our top rated culinary arts schools. If you've always loved to cook, why not consider making a career of it?
SchoolGuideUSA's Top Culinary Schools

Below you will find a listing of what we consider to be amongst the best culinary Schools. All of these schools feature outstanding culinary arts programs. Please click the links to REQUEST INFORMATION about each of these fine culinary arts schools. Be sure to fill out the online applications that each of these culinary arts schools provide to get all the information on their programs.

Culinary Academy of New York
Culinary Academy of Long Island
Scottsdale Culinary Institute - Scottsdale, AZ
California Culinary Academy - San Francisco, CA
California School of Culinary Arts - Pasadena, California
Orlando Culinary Academy - Orlando, FL
Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago - Chicago, IL
Atlantic Culinary Academy at McIntosh College - Dover, NH
Western Culinary Institute - Portland, OR
Pennsylvania Culinary Institute - Pittsburgh, PA
Texas Culinary Academy - Austin, TX

So you want to be a chef! The culinary arts are a great choice for a career. It helps if you have a previous interest in cooking.

Most people that decide that they would like to explore the great field of the culinary arts already seem to have the pre-disposition for it. Of course, that is not always the case.

Some chefs come into the profession later on in life. Of course, if you want to be at the top of your field, you should at least know that there are quite a few things that you should ask yourself first.

What it comes down to is that not everyone can be a chef. Before you even consider going any further, you should ask yourself the following questions first.

Am I creative?
Creativity is necessary if you want to stand out as a chef. Often a meal is made all the more interesting by the way it is presented on the plate.

Creativity will also be necessary in dealing with your staff’s problems. One thing a chef is responsible for is coming up with new and exotic dishes. A great sense of creativity can help with this and also with finding new ways to prepare old dishes.

When the average person goes to a fine restaurant, it is rare that they consider the amount of work that goes into the preparation of a meal. A good chef is good at making everything look easy and keep things running smoothly.

It takes a great deal of creativity to give everything the appearance of being unaffected.

Am I prepared to study the craft?
The only real way that you can become a good chef is to put a great deal of effort into improving yourself; not only as a cook, but as a person as well. To do this, you must study the craft.

You must be willing to study the art of cooking, preparation, and presentation. For all of the studies that will be done in books, you need to also practice these things in a hands-on manner to get the full effect of the study.

No matter what anybody says, no chef has ever mastered any dish without constant study and practice. As a budding chef yourself, you need to be prepared to put a great of effort into learning the craft, as well as spending a great deal of time doing so.

If you want to make the kind of money that goes with any successful profession, you will need to log in the hours and experience, and you must be willing to start small.

Do I have the motivation and desire to learn to be a chef?
Being aware of the amount of time and study that it takes to become a chef, you need to keep yourself motivated if you are to complete your study with the credentials that you are hoping for.

As with all things that require so much effort, sometimes you really have to talk yourself into continuing. If you can stick with it, you will be happy in the end. And you will be a chef.

Can I multi-task?
You will often be required to do many things at once, so be prepared. As you will learn, working in a kitchen is a fast paced environment. It helps if you can keep up.

You will soon realize that working in a kitchen requires you to do many things at once, and it also requires you to be able to do this with a clear head and decisive manner.

Most jobs require you to be able to do more than one thing at a time, but none so much as working as a chef. It can be quite frustrating at times, but very rewarding at others.

Multi-tasking is never more important than to those that wish to run their own establishment and kitchen. Keep reading if you really want to know what it takes to be a chef.

Am I good at making split second decisions?
When cooking more than one thing at once there is always room for a disaster. You need to be able to think quickly in order to avoid any complications.

Thinking on your feet is a necessity in working in a kitchen as there is always something going on around you. In order to be fully functional, you will need to able to make decisions at the drop of a dime, and they will have to be the right ones.

This may not sound very difficult, but you must consider that a kitchen is almost always filled with people and many things are cooking at the same time.

In this case, there is always a chance that something on the stove can go overlooked and begin to burn, a fire could break out with the simple misplacement of a dish towel, and confusion can easily break out among the staff.

A quick decisive chef will try to keep everything running smoothly.

Think of it this way; unless restaurant serves only one dish, you can have a great many items cooking at the same time, especially on a busy day.

As a chef, you will need to monitor everything that is being prepared and still keep up with your various other duties. To do this, you will need to be a split second decision maker.

Do I handle criticism well?
Unfortunately you will encounter some people who will not like your cooking for any reason and they will likely send their food back. It helps if you can take the criticism in stride. Food critics will also have opinions so be prepared for that as well. If you are not able to handle the criticism of others, it will not leave you much room to improve.

A good chef will always know that improvement begins with criticism. In this profession the old adage is definitely true; “The customer is always right”.

How is my business sense?
Cooking is a business; you will need to know the basics of business in order to run a kitchen on your own. It really doesn’t matter if you are running your own kitchen or someone else’s.

To be a good chef, you must be able to handle the business aspect of a restaurant; especially if you are planning to be an executive chef or run your own place someday.

By the business aspect I mean that you will often be expected to handle everything in the kitchen. That includes dealing with shipments and stocking of food items, the management of other employees, and the direct correspondence with the head honcho or proprietor of the establishment.

Am I a people person?
Being a chef requires you to be in touch with many people during the day, you will need the ability to deal with them in a diplomatic fashion.

Many people think that being holed up in a kitchen all day doesn’t really require you to be in much contact with the public, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

As the chef, you will encounter many people during the course of your day. You will be talking to delivery personnel, other employees, and often customers will wish to speak to you either in a congratulatory fashion or for criticism.

It’s all a part of being a head chef and you will do this every single day, so be prepared for it.

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