There are several ways to learn cooking: You can read books, or ask your mom or friends. But books are theoretical whilst the best way of learning is practice, and books don’t answer to your questions. And home cooks often don’t know the most efficient techniques and best strategies because no one ever told them. There’s a reason why a chef needs to study further than the home cooking skills passed on from one generation to the next. I was actually shocked how many things I did wrong, and amazed how many battles you could avoid.
If you really want to get proper training, then the best thing to do would be to go to a good cooking school and get training from professional cooks. They will be able to tell you all the secrets of how to cook best, how to do things fastest and how to prepare food the healthiest way.
But you should select your cooking school carefully. Not all out there are of the same quality. You don’t necessarily need to take the most expensive, just make sure you find a good one that meets your needs.
Here are 6 criteria a good cooking school must fulfill:
- Staff qualified in cooking and teaching
- Sufficient modern and good quality equipment
- Comprehensive theoretic curriculum
- Practical exercises
- Small classes
- Match your personal situation
1. Staff qualified in cooking and teaching
The teachers should have received good professional cooking training so that they can offer you more than a home cook. Make sure they are also trained in teaching, since their greatest specialized knowledge won’t give you maximum benefits if they can’t teach you properly.
2. Sufficient modern and good quality equipment
All equipment needed in your cooking lessons should be at hand. There should be enough equipment to ensure that all students get a chance to practice. Also, all equipment should be clean and in excellent working condition.
3. Comprehensive theoretical curriculum
The curriculum should include all major aspects of cooking: meal planning, equipment and its correct use, methods of food storage, food preparation and cooking techniques. Check the curriculum and ensure everything you want to know is part of it.
4. Practical exercises
Learning theory is very important, but it’s scientifically proven that we learn best by doing things. Make sure you’ll be given many opportunities to practice, and that there will be all support you need. The best learning effect is reached when practical exercises soon follow their theoretical. Practice tasks for home are helpful.
5. Small classes
The smaller the class the better since you will get more individual support. This is important especially in the practical part. You then can’t wait long for an answer. When you are cooking, you need help now. Aim for classes with 15 students at most. Some cooking schools might also divide classes into smaller groups for the practical exercises.
6. Matching your personal situation
The best cooking school won’t help you if you can’t get there because it’s too far away, if you can’t afford their fees, or if their lessons are during your working hours. Choose a cooking school that you can reach easily, and that suits your budget and corresponds with your schedule.
Based on these six criteria you should easily find a cooking school that can effectively teach you the mysteries of cooking. Read course description and curriculum of the cooking school you are interested in. Visit and see how it looks like and how they are working. Let them show you around, or ask if you can sit in for a lesson. Or speak to someone who has studied there about her experiences. And make sure to choose a cooking school that teaches you what you want and need – a basic course if you are new to cooking or a more specific one if your aim is to improve your skills in a certain field of cooking.