Help!!! How to decide on a culinary school??

Joined Oct 8, 2001
Can anyone help me?? I am a student at the University of GA and have decided on going to culinary school. I've been talking with a lot of people in the industry and have a lot of advice on the "best schools" to go to. However, I'm still not sure about where I should go. Currently, I'm looking at J&W, Western Culinary Insitute and CCA. If anyone has some helpful advice, it would be greatly appreciated! Thanks alot!
Rebecca Stephens
Joined Jul 31, 2000
Hi Rebecca,And welcome to cheftalk.
You have come to the right place.

First I would advise you to read as many posts on in this forum as you can,Theres a great deal of imfo in them.

There are so many Culinary schools out there these days it can make your head spin.

I am a big fan of J&W as well as the N.E.C.I in vermont.

Rebecca,What is the driving force behind you wanting to go to Culinary school?

If you are looking at the C.C.A in California I would suggest you also check out C.I.As campus in Napa Valley.

They have a fantastic program and the perfect enviorment for study.

Hey Greg..what do you think?
PS Greg moderates this forum.
Joined Sep 28, 1999
I recommend a school that has a
restaurant(s) servicing the public and/or a school in an area populated with good restaurants. I'm finding a lot of my experience will come from what I learn outside the classroom.

Also, I'm finding there is a balance between tuition and education that I am finally ok with. I'm at J&W in the "GArnish" program (for those who already have a degree) and I'm finding myself a little disappointed in the amount of a la minute cooking we do. I wish there were more of it instead of following a recipe and tossing it into a steam table. But at the same time, the program is $22,500 ($16,200 for me after grants/free money) and I don't see the value in paying $32,000+ to go to the CIA, CCA or NECI to have the experience of working for a couple weeks in a public restaurant. I'm getting that same experience outside of school.

FYI, as far as I know, the CIA in Napa offers only a pastry/baking certificate, not a culinary arts degree/cert. They only offer continuing education classes.

Hope that helps...
Joined Dec 12, 2000
Hey Rebecca!
Choose one that can give u real hands on experience in kitchens such as work experience out of the school itself. One that has tutors that have real experience in the cheffing industry. One that encourages u to push yourself, such as entering competiotions. And one that has the best reputation for that area. I chose my school for those very reasons and I've nearly finished my first sucessful year, have a brilliant job and have one a culinary competion :)
Joined Dec 8, 1999
I agree with Cape Chef, J&W and NECI are my top two picks. Cape Chef and myself are a little biased, however; we both are J&W grads. NECI's edge is in their low student-to-teacher ratio (7:1, gauranteed) and the fact that most, if not all, of your "classrooms" are open-to-the-public foodservice outlets. Also, the NECI program features two externships; most programs only do one.

The plusses of J&W are a quality culinary education, the shortened "garnish your degree" program that thelogg mentioned and their many locations. I attended the Charleston, SC campus; I can definitely recommend at least that one location for it's facility and instructors.
Joined Oct 30, 2001
Hi Rebecca,
I'm new to Chef Talk and noticed your inquiry about culinary schools. Are you looking for a degree program necessarily. I am affiliated with the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City (formerly known as Peter Kump's New York Cooking School.) We offer a 6 month diploma program which includes a 6 week externship in a New York City Restaurant. If you are interested in more information about our school, let me know!:bounce:
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