Culinary Arts History

Tracing the history of cooking schools

Prior to the advent of formal cooking schools in the United States there were professional cooks who served as teachers for individual students. During this period, most chefs learned their craft in apprenticeship programs. It wasn't until the late 1800s that the first schools were founded that were dedicated to educating students in the culinary arts.

In the 1940s, the concept of culinary education was first delivered to a mass audience via the new technology of television. In this post-war period, the American economy was booming and many people became interested in becoming a chef. Subsequently, enrollment in cooking schools substantially increased over the next few decades.

The rapid growth in the cooking school industry created the need for a system to determine the merit of each school. The ACFEI Accrediting Commission was formed in 1986. In 1990, it was recognized by the US Department of Education. Today, nearly 100 cooking schools in the nation are listed as officially accredited.

A Timeline of Important Events in Culinary Education History

  • 1929 - The American Culinary Federation is founded.
  • 1946 - The New Haven Restaurant Institute is founded on the campus of Yale University. In 1951, the institute is renamed The Culinary Institute of America to reflect its diverse student population. It has since relocated to Hyde Park, New York.
  • 1963 - "The French Chef," hosted by Julia Child, airs on television and introduces French cuisine to the American public. Suddenly, a chef is seen to hold a great deal of prestige.
  • 1973 - Johnson & Wales University[Johnson & Wales University] opens its College of Culinary Arts.
  • 1976 - The ACFEI Apprenticeship Program is started. It's the first official cooking apprenticeship program in the US.
  • 1977 - The California Culinary Academy opens.
  • 1980 - The New England Culinary Institute opens.
  • 1984 - The French Culinary Institute opens.
  • 1986 - The ACFEI Accrediting Commission is formed. Five schools receive accreditation in the commission's first year of operation.
  • 1988 – The Shaw Guide publishes "The Guide to Cooking Schools", which is considered to be the first comprehensive list of culinary arts programs offered around the world.
  • 1993 - The Food Network begins broadcasting to televisions nationwide, helping to create the modern celebrity chef.
  • 1995 - The Culinary Institute of America opens a campus in California.
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