How to choose the best Chef School for you.

More and more people are choosing to turn their passion for cookery into a career and re-training as chefs.  From working as a chef in top restaurants, to launching their own cafe or bistro, to travelling the world cooking on boats and in chalets – the options for an exciting and rewarding career in food are endless, and qualified chefs are in great demand.

So, once you have made your mind up that you are going to become a professional cook (chef), how do you choose the best training provider to give you the skills and confidence you need to launch a successful career?

The common choices ahead of you are:

Catering College

cateringState-funded catering colleges offer a wide range of vocational courses for young students and offer access to grants and student loans. Catering college will typically offer a younger learning environment with the majority of students around 16 to 19 years old, and their courses will generally be less intensive with fewer contact hours per week than private culinary school and so you should expect to take a longer to complete an equivalent course at catering college. Class sizes will typically be larger and often be less well resourced than private culinary schools. However there may be more flexible learning options such as work based assessment (NVQ)’s or part-time and evening courses, and course fees will be less than a private culinary school.

Our Advice:
Catering college is a good option for young people that require access to grants and student loans and also have the additional time required to complete a college course.  More mature students are likely to enjoy a private culinary school experience more.

Paid Work Experience

Nothing can replicate the buzz of a real service in a professional kitchen and if you are considering a career as a head chef we certainly recommend getting a taste of professional cookery through work experience before committing to catering as a career.

placementPaid work experience is a relatively new option with providers offering to place you in a professional kitchen for a fee with the promise that your experience will open doors to a career as a chef. Paying for work experience can get you access to a good restaurant kitchen, but be aware that you are unlikely to gain any accredited qualifications (beyond the basics such as food hygiene).

Restaurants are tough working environments that have little time to focus on your needs as a learner – most chefs have no experience in teaching and you will likely be working on junior level tasks for most of your time.  At the end of it all you may have work experience on your CV but no qualifications to show.

Nowadays, employers are increasingly looking to recruit qualified chefs and at the Chefs Academy many of our graduates go on to start their careers as paid junior chefs in top restaurants after becoming qualified.

Our Advice:
Approach paid work experience with caution and ensure you have a clear understanding of the outcomes and structure of the training, which ideally should lead to a recognised qualification. Qualified chefs can expect to secure paid junior chef jobs in top kitchens immediately after graduating thus being paid for the experience rather than paying for it.

Private Culinary School

The Ashburton Chefs Academy is a private culinary school offering our unique chef training programmes developed by our team of expert chef tutors. As a private culinary school we are able to create a world-class adult learning environment, recruit the best teaching talent, and develop our own course content.

Our courses also incorporate accredited chef qualifications that are recognised qualifications.  Accreditation means we must meet high standards of delivery, training and student welfare, and are regularly inspected to ensure we meet these standards,  The Ashburton Chefs Academy is one of only 3 UK culinary schools to be accredited by the British Accreditation Council and the Confederation of Hospitality and Tourism to deliver some of the highest level chef qualifications in the UK.

academyWe develop our courses to be intensive and highly practical, with small class sizes. You can expect to become qualified in much less time on our courses. Because we are independent our courses are not state funded, however we offer low-cost finance on our courses, and a Career Development loan option.

Graduates of the Ashburton Chefs Academy can expect to be taken seriously within the catering industry at the highest levels and our Graduates have gone on to achieve great success. Formal chef qualifications not only offer you a structured learning path but by earning a qualification you demonstrate to employers your commitment and skill as a chef.

Our Advice:
Private culinary schools typically appeal to more mature students who are looking for an intensive, quality training programme in a modern adult learning environment.  The courses are more expensive and do not qualify for state funding.  Ensure that the culinary school is accredited and check class sizes, the amount of guided learning hours you can expect per week, the reputation of the school and the success of past graduates.

Click here for further information on chef courses as the Ashburton Chefs Academy.

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