Liberal Arts College vs. Cooking School

If you’ve been trying to decide whether or not it’s right for you, your passion, and your career to pursue a college or university that focuses on the liberal arts or attend a cooking or culinary school, this quick guide shows you the major differences between the two.

This is done to hopefully give you the “inside information” you’re looking for to make the right decision, a decision that will have impact on your life for years and years to come!

What is the difference between liberal arts and culinary arts?

There is a world of difference between the liberal arts and culinary arts, even if it may not seem like there is much of a difference on the surface.

After all, liberal arts is mostly used as a “umbrella” or “catchall” designation for specific areas of study and do not fit some of the more specialized fields of study like the sciences, math, and other degree programs.

Liberal arts programs can be beneficial if you are interested in pursuing a career down that path, but as far as a career in the culinary world is concerned they just aren’t going to cut it. Obviously, if you have a liberal arts degree and then decide to attend a culinary school we’re talking about something completely different.

Is culinary arts considered liberal arts?

If you’ve been wondering whether or not culinary arts are considered liberal arts, hopefully the above information gives you the extra insight you need to understand that they aren’t one in the same – though some people certainly try to lump them into gather.

In reality, culinary arts share much more similarities to the math, science, and engineering side of advanced and higher educational opportunities because of all the science that goes into fundamentals of cooking.

Should cooking school be considered liberal arts as far as education is concerned?

This is quite an interesting question, and really comes down to how you feel about the culinary arts world in particular and whether or not it has a place integrated in with the rest of the liberal arts.

Most people are quite happy with the set up as it is arranged today, with culinary arts schools, institutes, and universities hosting their own programs with their own resources, and liberal arts solutions doing the same thing.

If I am interested in entering the culinary field, should I attend liberal arts school?

If you are interested in pursuing a culinary education, you’re going to want to find the right culinary school in your local area (or the best culinary school nationally), as a liberal arts school or a liberal arts program may not be able to deliver you the kind of foundational education you are searching for. For example, at NECI, you “learn by living it.” This means that you learn culinary skills in a real restaurant kitchen with real customers. This will not only prepare you for the everyday demands of a culinary career, but it will also make you a more desirable candidate when applying for culinary jobs (just see what Tom Colicchio had to say about NECI graduates). At NECI, we also offer courses to teach you the business acumen that is specific to the culinary field. Running a restaurant and handling its finances is quite different than any other business. Because of our vast network of culinary alumni, we also have the resources to help you find employment when you’ve graduated from NECI.

If you’d like more information about a culinary education at NECI, give us a call or send us an email.

Phone 877-223-6324 or 802-223-6324


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How to Buy Chefs Whites

If you are just beginning your career as a professional chef, there are going to be a number of very specific things you need to tackle before you are ready for “prime time”.

Not only will you need to have all of the tools and technologies a modern chef will use on a day-to-day basis on hand and accessible (including a top-notch knife set), but you’ll also need the clothes and uniform of a chef as well.

Almost all professional culinary schools will require you to purchase a chef uniform (or multiple chef uniforms, more precisely) and require you to wear them to each and every class. And since you’ll be wearing these chef uniforms throughout your career, it’s a good idea to make sure that you know exactly how to choose a new chef uniform, how to figure out where to buy chef uniform components from, and all of the other “ins and outs” of this critical part of your career.

A chef uniform is not just something to help you “play the part”

The first thing that you need to understand is that a chef uniform is not designed just to help you “play the part” or look like a professional chef – though it might seem that way to the outsider.

Chef uniforms are in fact very, very functional pieces of clothing in a number of different ways. On the one hand, the right uniform can help protect you from hot liquids, hot foods, and a whole host of other kitchen items that could cause injury if you weren’t protected with this heavy duty and durable material. At the same time, they have pockets and other features that allow you to keep your tools on hand and easily accessible – without cluttering your workplace.

Make sure you are purchasing high quality chef uniforms that are as usable as they are attractive

Another thing that you’re going to want to keep in mind before you focus on where to buy chef uniform components is that you need to invest in high quality uniforms over cheap or extremely affordable options no matter how tempting it can be to go in that direction.

The more expensive options are almost always going to be manufactured to a higher level of quality and consistency within you’ll find anywhere else, and will offer you that much more protection and that much more capability. On top of that, they’ll fit better, they’ll look nicer and more professional, and will give you the confidence that you’re looking for every single day you cook.

Where can I buy chef clothes?

If you’ve been trying to figure out where you can buy chef clothes, you’re going to find an almost unlimited amount of options available to you, both online as well as off. Your culinary school will probably have a catalog that you can order supplies and uniforms from, but you can also find chef uniform solutions from online retailers, uniform suppliers in the local area that your culinary school is located in, or you can contact chefs and that you have a relationship with to see where they purchase their uniforms from as well. The following is a list of reputable vendors that sell well priced quality chef whites:




Now you just need to read up on how to keep your Chef Whites “white”.



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How Do I Become A Chef After the Military?

If you decide that you’d like to learn how to become a chef after the military, you’re going to want to start the process of getting your culinary education and pursuing this career opportunity as soon as possible.

With the culinary explosion happening in the United States right now, culinary jobs are being created on an almost daily basis – but it also happens to be one of the most competitive fields with so many different culinary students looking to jump headfirst into employment.

As a military member (or former military member), you are going to have tremendous advantages and opportunities to pursue culinary careers after the military – but you need to make sure that you are doing everything you can to streamline this process.

Invest in high quality cooking textbooks and culinary classes while you’re still in the military

If you are still in the service, you can begin to establish your culinary education by investing in high quality cooking textbooks, cooking programs, and culinary classes that are available in your local area or online. You don’t have to spend millions on them. Check out Amazon for used books, Craigslist, Bookfinder, Abebooks, Slugbooks, and Uloop.

There are a number of culinary textbooks that you can order from websites like (the same textbooks that many culinary schools issue to their students) to start building up a foundation of culinary skills and knowledge, it is recommended that you invest in these types of learning aids as early in the process as possible.

Taking some culinary classes that are provided on-base or off base will also be tremendously helpful, and there are even some online-based cooking schools that you can leverage as well.

Pursue an education from one of the top culinary schools in the United States after leaving the military

After you have left the military, you’re going to want to avoid focusing first on how to find a cooking career after military service and instead focus on getting the education from one of the better culinary schools in the US. There are many, but we’d be flattered if you considered New England Culinary Institute. We have a department dedicated to assisting military veterans in getting financial aid and a job after graduation. At NECI you will get the culinary skills and knowledge and we’ll help you with plans beyond your education.

Figure out what type of culinary education will work for you

At NECI we offer different types of education to fit each individual. You can choose to go the “traditional” route, and attend courses in our New England campus. You can also go “high-tech” and learn online – works great if you already have a job or a demanding schedule.

If you have more questions about how NECI can help you to reach your culinary dreams, please contact or call (877) 223-6324

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Residential Life at Culinary School

If you’re excited to get started with your culinary education but are a little nervous about your first time in a culinary school residence hall, you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

This whole process can feel rather stressful at the start, but once you discover how easy and enjoyable it is to live in a residence hall for culinary students – with some of the helpful hints, tips, and tricks provided below – you’re going to be able to embrace life in a culinary school dormitory and all of the big benefits it has to offer!

What is resident life like in cooking school?

If you’ve been trying to figure out what life is like in a cooking school, it’s a lot like the life at any other major college or university. You’re going to be living with new people that you may not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise, and while it can be a little bit strange living in the residence halls for culinary students, you’ll find that you strike up relationships and friendships with your fellow dorm mates at that can last a lifetime. The connections you make at NECI will follow you throughout your personal and professional life.

Important tips for making the most of life in the residence hall for culinary students

To help you make the most of your life in a culinary school residence hall, we’ve created the following list of tips and tricks included below. Hopefully you’ll be able to use them to make the most out of your life on campus!

Find out who you are living with as soon as possible

The most important thing you can do is figure out exactly who you are going to be living in the dorms with as early as you can. You’ll want to contact the admissions office to figure out who you’ve will be living with, and get as much of their information and contact details as you can. You’ll also want to find them on social media and strike up at least an early conversation, as this effort right off the bat can really make the transition to life in the residence halls much easier than it would have been otherwise.

Create “Room Rules”

Once you figure out who you are living with in the residence halls for culinary students, it’s time to begin creating “room rules” so that everyone is on the same page. It’s going to be a little bit new for everyone to adjust to living with strangers that become their friends, and the best way to eliminate any headaches or hassles down the line is to set ground rules as early as possible. This keeps the lines of communication open, and will really help you enjoy dorm life that much more.

Get to know the campus and the surrounding area

Try not to fixate only on what campus life is like in cooking school, as you’ll be spending only a little bit of time in your room (hopefully). You’ll also want to check out the rest of the campus and the surrounding area for all kinds of fun activities, events, and other hobbies or groups you can take part in – helping you get the most out of your time at culinary school. We’re in New England so we have amazing skiing, mountain biking, hiking trails…you’ll never get bored.

So, to get back to the original question of what is residence life like in cooking school – it’s incredible!

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Top Cooking Schools in the Nation

If you’ve been searching for the best culinary schools in America to begin your culinary education and career path to becoming a professional chef, we’ve compiled a list of five schools that we feel represent the very best of the best.

Obviously, with the culinary boom happening in America right now, there are more schools and programs popping up left and right – but these five schools below are established top cooking schools that have gained a very favorable reputation for culinary education (not just in the US, but throughout the world).

Regardless of which of the top cooking schools below you decide to move forward with, you are practically guaranteed to get the kind of foundational education you need to become a world-class chef.

Sure, we’re biased when including ourselves, but we take pride in offering a high quality culinary education that will get you hired in the job of your dreams.

We hope that you consider us as well as these other culinary schools when doing your research – and if you have questions for us – just give us a call us at 877-223-6324 or 802-223-6324 or send us an email at

Culinary Institute of America

Widely considered to be one of the best culinary schools in USA history the Culinary Institute of America has certainly earned its reputation as the number one school for building new chefs. Not only will you get a world-class culinary education from CIA, but you’ll also find that the doors to new culinary career positions almost seemed to open up on their own when you have a degree from this cooking school.

New England Culinary Institute

Located in Vermont, the New England Culinary Institute is second to none as far as the best culinary schools in America that blends a modern approach to cooking with local, sustainable ingredients – giving you the ability to develop your cooking skills in a very friendly atmosphere. If you want to focus on farm to table approach while also developing a rock-solid foundation of culinary skills, the New England Culinary Institute is where you’ll want to focus your educational efforts. At NECI, we offer two types of learning:

  • Learn by Living It: Our more traditional type of learning. You take classes on campus and learn technique by working in our campus restaurants with real customers. This means that when you graduate you will not only be prepared for the fast pace of the culinary field, but that you will be a more enticing candidate for jobs. Think of this more as you would a medical residency…where you learn by doing (this was the chosen path for Alton Brown). NECI also sets up students with internships so that they can gain more experience and fatten up their resume before entering the workforce. Once you graduate, you have access to our extensive list of alumni AND our job portal – so that it is always easy for you to gain employment.
  • Online Learning: Maybe you’re looking into switching careers, or you are a single parent with a time constraint, or maybe you are already a culinary professional looking to gain more skills. Our online programs could be the solution for you.

Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America

Another of the top cooking schools in America, Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America will give you a distinct edge and advantage when you want to learn classic French style cooking methods blended with more modern approaches to give you a fantastic culinary education.

The French Culinary Institute

The French Culinary Institute focuses specifically on the French style of cooking (with some more modern approaches added in), and also offers a fantastic program for those that want to learn pastry arts and baking techniques as well.

Johnson and Wales Culinary Program

Regarded as one of the most affordable culinary schools in USA, the Johnson and Wales Culinary Program should stay on your radar if you’re looking for a foundational education in the culinary arts.

Hopefully this list of top cooking schools is the extra info you need to find the right program for your specific needs!


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How To Get on the TV Show Chopped! and Win Everything!

Almost everyone that has an interest in developing a culinary career has seen the TV show Chopped on Food Network.

Chopped is a television program that pits four different chefs from around the United States (and sometimes from across the world) in a head to head battle where they need to prepare world-class meals and dishes from ingredients that aren’t revealed to them until the last moment. Chopped is seen as a culinary “Iron Man” competition – and definitely separates the professionals from the amateurs.

The Executive Chef at New England Culinary Institute, Chef Jean-Louis Gerin, has first-hand experience on Chopped – and he won it all!

Here are just a few things you need to know about how Chef Jean-Louis Gerin got on the show, as well as how Chef Jean-Louis Gerin became a Chopped champion.

Getting on the Chopped TV show on Food Network

The application process was rather simple and straightforward, and is something that you can successfully complete by applying directly through the Food Network. You’ll need to prove your abilities as a chef through a number of different ways, and go through an interview process – but after that has successfully completed, you’ll be able to compete on Chopped.

However, getting onto Chopped is only one small piece of the puzzle. Here’s how to discover two of the insider secrets that led to a world-class chef being crowned a winner on Chopped.

Keeping things simple, but making sure to add excitement, interest, and texture

If you want to know the most important thing that led to the headline reading “Chef Jean-Louis Gerin Winner on Chopped,” it had to be focusing on keeping dishes as simple and as authentic to the basket of secret ingredients as possible – without making them bland, boring, or unexciting.

What you want to do is really appreciate, respect, and leverage the unique ingredients that are provided in each and every basket, trying to find new ways to play up their natural flavors and textures with other outside elements.

Staying cool under pressure was everything to pulling off a successful win

Secondly, and another reason why Chef Jean-Louis Gerin was able to win on the Chopped TV show on Food Network, is that you need to remain cool under pressure – especially when things start to spiral out of control. Each round of Chopped is a time ground, where you’ll only have a limited amount of time to pull off the dish to perfection – keeping cool is far more difficult than it seems.

You have to make sure that your wits remain about you, and that you are able to push forward even in the face of adversity and real challenge to come out on top.

Want to learn more secrets about how Chef Jean-Louis Gerin became the winner on Chopped? Apply to become a student at the New England Culinary Institute and you’ll find out firsthand!


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