Top Cooking Schools

A closer look at some of the nation's top culinary arts institutions

Some of the most common questions that come up among prospective students include: "Which school is the best?" and "Is there a ranking system for the top schools?" US News & World Report and the Princeton Review both issued rankings of the top colleges and universities in the US, but no such list exists for cooking schools (at least not in any official, objective capacity).

What matters more than finding the very best cooking school is choosing the right cooking school to suit your personal and professional needs. There are hundreds of schools out there, and most of them can provide you with an excellent education. Even the most prestigious chef program isn't worth enrolling in if it doesn't focus on the aspects of the culinary arts that suit your personality and interests.

Another important consideration is location. Do you prefer to study close to home or would you like to venture off to a new place? Some cooking schools often focus on regional flavors and food trends, while others specialize in certain genres of food like game or sauces. Ensure the school has the right "mix of flavors" for you.

Cooking schools in the US are different in many ways from cooking schools in countries like France and Italy because conventional American cuisine is different from French and Italian cuisine. The same difference is found in different regions in the US. New York cooking schools may be completely different than Texas cooking schools or California cooking schools. Even within a state like California, there'll be regional influences that will appear on cooking-school curriculums, and you'll be taught slightly different things depending on whether you choose to study in San Francisco or San Diego.

Fortunately, there are great schools in various regions all across the country, and there's sure to be one close to where you live. Again, the focus should be on finding a place that fits your needs!

For those who aren't as concerned with location and are interested in finding out what cooking schools have the very best reputations, there are some notable names. These schools are famous in the food-service industry and are known to provide an education in the culinary arts that's of the highest quality. Some of these schools include:

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