A culinary degree will jump-start your career. Two to four years of solid educational experience can cover what it might take years of work experience to learn. In school you will study under many chefs and gain the benefit of their experience, knowledge, and connections. Many successful chefs did not get a formal culinary degree, but the world of food service is becoming more competitive and professional. Today many executive-level positions in the industry require a degree. In the management field a degree is nearly always a requirement.
Look at student-to-teacher ratio and class size. Cooking is a learned, physical skill and you need the opportunity to practice and be coached by an instructor who knows your strengths and weaknesses. Talk to faculty, current students and alumni, not just the admissions staff. Does the faculty stay in touch with students? Do they have a range of experience and expertise? How would current students and alumni rate their experience? Find out how much time will be spent in a classroom vs. production classes. Ask about the quality of the externship sites and what you will be expected to learn on externship. If you are interested in an externship with a particular restaurant, you may want to call the chef and ask what he or she thinks of the various culinary schools. Be wary of any school that pressures you to take out a certain kind of loan or to work with a specific lender. The school should take the time to work out an individualized financial plan that works best for you.
A culinary education is expensive. However, no student should hesitate to apply because of financial concerns. We will work with you to develop an individualized financial aid plan. Your education is an investment. We know you will graduate from New England Culinary Institute with the skills to be successful and to continue to grow your earning power.
The field of food service is growing rapidly. Food communications, teaching, sales, and research and development are all new career paths for culinarians. Attending NECI is a good way to get a feel for whether the kitchen is the right place for you, since you will get the real-world experience while you are in school. Completing the program through the Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality and Restaurant Management can open additional options for you. NECI graduates have gone on to become food writers, consultants, test kitchen managers, research chefs, entrepreneurs, and sales executives.
I watch these students grow and gain experience and confidence in their ability to turn their visions into reality. I tell them that baking is a mindset and a set of skills. The most important qualities for any good baker are curiosity and accuracy. You can’t be afraid to try new things. And you have to follow through with accuracy and precision. It can’t hurt if you really like desserts!"
We have a real opportunity at NECI to create generations of chefs who believe in the importance of using ingredients that are sustainably raised, harvested, and distributed. This means fostering respect for ingredients and teaching skills that minimize waste. At NECI, sustainable practices are woven into our curriculum. Being in Vermont puts us on the front lines of exciting changes in the way we think about food."
It’s the perfect school for me—small town, small classes. I love Montpelier and I really thrive in a close community. I need the encouragement that comes from having close relationships with your teachers. The small classes also make it easier for me to ask questions without feeling like an idiot!
NECI offers the most rigorous, standards-based programs available in culinary education. Everyone in the industry understands this. We know our students by name and we expect nothing but the best from each of them. That’s why, after NECI, our students get jobs around the world in commercial and private kitchens, in corporate dining, in hotels. NECI graduates are everywhere."
I’ve worked in the food industry for thirteen years, but realized that a degree would give me better job security. I looked at Johnson and Wales, but felt that I would get a better education at NECI. At NECI, I can takes courses, for example, in Farm to Table and Sustainability that I would not receive at a larger school. I felt that that I would make better connections here. The people who work here knew my name before I even interviewed!"
NECI was the best decision I ever made, both because of the professional network it opened up for me and the skills I learned. Some of these were simple skills—others, like how to have a professional attitude and how to focus on ingredients and treat food respectfully are much larger. Some people go to culinary school to become star chefs—it takes different qualities to run a restaurant like A Single Pebble. You have to know how to create schedules that work and how to work with people. You have to have the spirit of a craftsman—to tell the story of the food you serve. It takes professionalism but also a certain passion and craziness.”
Food connects to everything in our lives. If you have a good culinary background, you will have tremendous opportunity in the food industry. I chose NECI because of the intense education, which I knew would prepare me for any path I chose.”
I wanted to be a chef. NECI gave me the training I needed, and opened a wide variety of possibilities—after NECI, you can go out and get any job in the industry you want. One of the great benefits of a NECI education was the hands-on approach to everything. You don’t just watch it, you do it! After all, it’s not easy to learn about meat fabrication in a lecture!”