Top Culinary Schools in North America

The mystique of international cuisine is well-known, but not every chef-to-be can afford to move overseas and seek the tutelage of a world famous European chef. What’s an aspiring but continentally constrained chef to do? The good news is that there are many phenomenal and well-respected culinary schools right here at home. Here we’ll survey some of the top-tier programs and review some of the unique and interesting opportunities each one has to offer.

4. Le Cordon Bleu

Le Cordon Bleu has been around and teaching future chefs for over 100 years, and over that time has garnered and impressive reputation for turning out quality graduates and numerous internationally known stars. Renowned chefs  Mario Batali, Giada De Laurentiis, Simone Beck, and even Julia Child all graduated from Le Cordon Bleu (interestingly, Jeff Probst—of Survivor fame—also graduated from Le Cordon Bleu!). Le Cordon Bleu is a multi-campus school with locations in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Miami, Orlando, Pittsburg, Portland, Sacramento, Scottsdale, Seattle, and St. Louis. This means that wherever you live, there’s a Le Cordon Bleu near you, ready to help you enter the world of professional culinary arts. The Boston school, in particular, has recently been receiving high praise for its educational quality.

3. The International Culinary School

The International Culinary School at the Art Institutes is another well-known and well-respected multi-campus American culinary school, with locations in the cities of Atlanta, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Indianapolis, Detroit, Minneapolis, New York, Portland, Philadelphia, Nashville, Washington DC, Houston, Seattle, and others. One of the unique features of the International Culinary School at the Art Institutes is its focused association with the Food Network. This special relationship means that the quality of curriculum and faculty is top-tier, and allows the school to bring in some of the stars of the Food Network’s programs to mix elbows with its students and offer career and culinary advice.

2. The French Culinary Institute, New York City

Want to learn to prepare and serve traditional French cuisine, but can’t afford to move to France and learn from their native chefs? Look no further than the French Culinary Institute, New York City. Voted Best Vocational Cooking School in America in 2010, and called “the finest cooking school in America” by famous chef and writer Anthony Bourdain, this school has a well-deserved reputation, known internationally as offering one of the top culinary programs outside of Europe. The French Culinary Institute, New York City is a part of the International Culinary Center.

1. The Italian Culinary Academy, New York City

The Italian Culinary Academy, New York City is another division of the International Culinary Center, and is known for teaching some of the most authentically Italian culinary techniques of any cooking school outside of native Italy. The Italian Culinary Academy for its course “The Essentials of Italian Cooking,” and 8 week course that trains students in the basics of Italian cuisine—pasta, antipasta, sauces, cheeses, etc.

There are many other options for culinary schools in North America, but these schools represent the best of the best. Anyone looking to learn some of the best international styles of cooking while remaining close to home should look to these schools first and with the confidence that they’ll be able to provide the education needed to succeed.

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