Should You Really Go To Cooking School?
Many people dream of attending cookery classes, whether for a complete term or simply a day course. It represents the chance to immerse yourself in an environment of culinary creativity, but above all else it is also an opportunity to learn one of life's most important lessons: how to feed yourself in the best manner possible!
One of the most tricky problems when considering a visit to a cookery class is the strain it can place on your bank balance. Yes, they cost a FORTUNE. When contrasted with driving lessons, language classes and sport lessons, cooking classes are usually at or near the top in terms of fees. It leads one to wonder why they should be so expensive at all. Yet when you think about it more carefully, there’s a heck of a lot of things involved in preparing to run a class. For a start there’s the time required from a qualified professional teacher with tons of experience, aiming to provide you with the best advice he/she can give. Ingredients are usually inclusive, but those can be made cheap when purchasing in bulk. The food itself can’t just be cooked anywhere, so the class will need a reliable kitchen space where the teacher can demonstrate all the crucial details that go into refining your knife skills and so on. This means renting a suitable space can be exceptionally costly when compared to a class that can take place in any regular classroom (or even a coffee shop). Finally, health, hygiene and safety concerns mean that everything needs to be up to scratch and assessed to ensure there are no hazards in the teaching environment, though everyone is bound to burn something at some point! All of these factors combine to push up the price of cookery classes.
Nonetheless, even if you have a high enough disposable income that the fees are not a big concern, there’s the ever-present issue of time. It's rather unlikely that most people will be able to take a sabbatical year out to learn how to cook up a storm, even if that may be one of the best experiences in life. This explains why short courses are a sure route to attracting a healthy number of sign-ups, as the cost in terms of time is so much lower.
As a former student myself and having debated with many other classmates about cooking schools, I wanted to share some valuable conclusions based on my experiences. The main take-home message is that while you can definitely go to school to learn the basic repertoire of the kitchen, one can gain more in creativity by reading cookbooks (good ones only!), practising in the kitchen (including making weird-tasting spaghetti with heaps of salt and pepper), and regularly sampling dishes at different eateries. There is nothing wrong with gaining an education in the field, but it should be considered as more of a fun experience as opposed to expecting that your course certificate will lead directly to a great job or a flourishing business. Cooking schools are a good way to learn the fundamentals of the kitchen, just as is the case with any other field of education. The key thing is what you do with those skills afterwards. The best food journeys have always been started by those who just kept practising in their kitchen as a hobby or means of self-indulgence (more on this another time!). Feel free to attend if you have the spare time and cash, but don’t feel like you are losing out badly if you can't. Now run, don't walk, to your kitchen!"