How Much Will It Cost To Go To A Top Chef School?

The television phenomenon of celebrity chefs and the demand for good food have inspired many people to enter the culinary industry. With dreams of running their own kitchen or even being on TV, many people begin looking for a chef school to help them start their career.

What are the Top Chef Schools?

The top chef schools in America include the Culinary Institute of America, the Art Institute, Le Cordon Bleu, and the International Culinary Center (formerly the French Culinary Institute), and Culinary Connection. All of these schools have multiple locations, but the Culinary Institute of America and International Culinary Center were both started in and maintain flagship campuses in New York.

Not all chefs go to a culinary school. Many top chefs learned the trade and worked their way up by working in restaurants and learning from other chefs. This often requires starting out washing dishes or doing prep work for very low pay, but many chefs learned this way and it was is as a type of “paying your dues” and working your way up.

How Much Do Culinary Schools Cost?

Most well-known culinary schools are expensive, averaging around $70,000. An education at the Culinary Art Institute of America can run between $30,000 – $120,000, depending on the program a student is enrolled an its emphasis. The International Culinary Center costs $41,000 – $50,000. The Art Institute’s Culinary program is from $30,000-120,000. And Le Cordon Bleu charges from $20,000-50,000.

Culinary Connection charges only $8,400. they are able to do this because they operate moreon a one-on-one mentor type of model, rather than spending lots of money on building a school and classrooms. This replicates the best of the “learn by doing” model that used to be common, while still following a set curriculum and giving graduates a degree as proof of their training.

Will Going to A Top Chef School Help Me Get A Job?

Being a chef is different than being a doctor or lawyer. While education is important, experience and hands-on learning is more important than a degree. It may help but, ultimately, it is more important for a chef or cook to have on-the-job experience than a degree from a top school. The best option is to look for a program that will combine education with hands-on experience in restaurant kitchens.


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