Applying to Culinary School

Culinary schools offer the opportunity to elevate cooking from a fun hobby to a lucrative career. However, applying to culinary school can be intimidating for aspiring chefs. Below are a handful of tips that can help you start cooking up a delectable future in a field you'll love.

The Application Process

The first step of applying to a school is choosing the institution you want to attend. Different culinary schools have different requirements. Some will only require an application and fees, but others might need a great deal of paperwork. This is particularly true with high-end, competitive institutions like Le Cordon Bleu.

Once you are aware of the application requirements of your prospective school, you can begin gathering the appropriate materials. This often requires speaking to former teachers and employers to receive letters of recommendation. If you're applying to a competitive institution, make sure to outline your prior work experience in detail in a professional-looking resume. People who can show they have an aptitude for cooking stand a better chance of being accepted than those who leave a school official wondering if they can even boil water.

Improving Your Chances

If you want to increase your chances of acceptance into the culinary school of your dreams, make sure you find work in a kitchen. Working as a sous chef or line cook greatly increases your chances of being accepted, because it will display a knowledge of the basics. Excellent performance on the job combined with letters of recommendation from employers gives an enormous advantage. Many schools require some amount of work experience from applicants.

You should also learn to prepare dishes quickly. Ultimately, becoming a talented chef is about how fast you can produce quality food. If you can't produce a delicious dish in a short amount of time, a school can find someone faster. Another crucial skill that can give you an applicant edge is knife handling. Many rookie chefs understand flavor and texture balances, but few are as skilled with a knife as they should be. Learning how to properly handle different knives with elegance, grace, and safety will take you very far in the culinary industry.


While culinary school is a fine alternative to the traditional college experience, it is not a necessity for becoming a chef. Plenty of famous chefs have never attended culinary school and have been entirely self-taught. However, if you dream of working alongside other students who are all learning how to prepare delicious, savory meals, then start applying for a culinary school that will help you reach your goals.

Last Updated: April 22, 2015