What Do You Learn in Culinary School (Besides Cooking)?

What do you learn in culinary school? Working in the culinary field hinges on your ability to prepare beautiful food, but it also requires you to learn about other disciplines. A strong education outside of sauces and pastries will endow you with a breadth of knowledge about each aspect of the service industry. Here are some important topics you will cover in a culinary program besides cooking:

Sourcing and Purchasing

The best culinary education will teach you about the importance of sustainable and local produce when sourcing ingredients and how to properly purchase it. How do you know how much of a product to buy? What do you do when your product arrives and it's lacking in quality? With the guidance of trained professionals, you'll learn to navigate these tricky questions before it's ever your professional problem.


If you've wondered how the culinary industry evolved from ancient times to "Downton Abbey" to now, grab a course catalog. Culinary history classes are a great place to discover the origin of certain foods and traditions, and how technology and advanced cooking techniques led to culinary improvement. Learning about how different cuisines influence each other and complement other cultures only makes you appreciate the food you eat and cook more. You may even find actual cultural diversity and sociology courses on the menu.

Nutrition and Food Science

The culinary arts offer opportunities to influence people's lives by sharing healthy and wholesome food. Working alongside chefs, you''ll learn how to adjust your recipes to meet different dietary restrictions, as well as how to maximize the nutrients of your dishes. Food nourishes and supports everyone's well-being — with the emerging emphasis on whole foods, learning the science behind how nutrition actually works will help you master that trend!

Management Skills

As Anthony Bourdain told the Harvard Business Review, "The kitchen is one of the last true meritocracies, where you are judged entirely on job performance." Bringing out the best in the unique environment requires strong management training. Not only do you need to be able to work with a team every evening, you should prepare for unexpected challenges. Particularly, learning how to receive and give feedback from staff and customers is integral to any restaurant's success.

Beverage Selection

Beverage selection is an important aspect of the best restaurants in the world. Regardless of your job, you should have a strong understanding of the role of beverages — liquors, beer, wines, teas and coffee — in contributing to a menu. You may be surprised by the amount of creativity you can infuse while concocting a craft cocktail or beer list. A great, unexpected food and drink pairing can make someone's day. Just like every other part of the meal, beverages are worthy of extra attention.

Put your assumptions aside when asking, "What do you learn in culinary school?" By investing in your education and your career, you give yourself the opportunity to learn about aspects of the culinary business besides the basics.

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