Self-Education

As an aspiring food writer, chef, and molecular gastronomist, I have a multitude of items on my platter (no pun intended). trying to find the time to complete everything involves stretching every minute of every day. Unfortunately, not everyone has time for this like I do. For those of you out there who want to educate yourself and aren’t able to go to a full on culinary school, there are many different books and methods you can do.

Firstly, there are many great books out there to beef up your cooking skills right away. My personal favorite, the one that got me going on this path, is “Everyday Cooking” by Jacques Pepin. Now as a CIA student, I don’t often advocate for FCI grads but in all honesty Chef Pepin is one of the best alive, and his book is no small order. Front to back, his book will teach you everything from the basic cutting techniques to desserts to advanced haute cuisine. Next, everyone in the culinary world owns or has read from “The Escoffier” by August Escoffier. The chef of kings wrote the bible on modern haute cuisine, and it is a mainstay for anyone trying to be a self taught cook. Lastly, no one, and I mean no one, should not own a copy of “Food Lovers Companion” by Ron and Sharon Herbst. Any technique, item, food, or term is easily explained in simple terms in a codex that spans the entire culinary world. Currently in its fourth edition, it is a great gift for any aspiring cook. Of course there is a new favorite of mine, called “The Flavor Bible” by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. A rather new book, is an adventurous romp in the land of flavor combination. Extremely user-friendly and clearly designed, this book connects any food with compatable ideas for spices and herb and sauces. The better the connection the bolder the font in the book. It also lists common and rare but equally delicious flavor groupings. Even as a culinary student, this book continues to amaze and re-educate me.

Finally, my personal favorite, is just going to the grocery store. Whole Foods and Wegman’s both employ full time chefs who design meals and recipes for everyday cooking. If you have a question about anything and they can either guide you in the right direction or explain the answer in clear terms. Not to mention both have an excellent selection of organic foods, and a diverse range of international cuisines. So the next time you feel the need to be spontaneous in the kitchen, take a look at one of these and see if they don’t give you some inspiration.

Featured Culinary Schools

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5 Program(s) Found
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
  • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
  • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
  • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
Le Cordon Bleu Schools of North America , Online (campus option available)
  • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
  • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
  • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
  • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
  • Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
3 Program(s) Found
  • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
  • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
  • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
  • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
Penn Foster , Online
  • Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
  • Profiled in many publications such as The Boston Globe, Fox Business, and  Inside Higher Ed.
  • Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
  • Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
  • Founded in 1890 in Scranton, Pennsylvania    
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  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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  • Online Courses