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Professional Culinary Schools in the UK

Professional Culinary Schools in the UK

by Great British Chefs 04 September 2015

Thinking of becoming a chef? With so many options it can be difficult to make a decision Here we list four of the best professional courses offered by independent, private culinary schools.


Great British Chefs is a team of passionate food lovers dedicated to bringing you the latest food stories, news and reviews.

If food is your passion there is no better time to learn. According to restaurateurs and chefs across the country, there is a major shortage of trained chefs throughout the industry — from Michelin starred restaurants to gastro pubs. Graduates of culinary schools are not only confined to commercial kitchens, with a variety of other food-related careers also available, including; food styling, writing, and product development, to name just a few.

Le Cordon Bleu

With a reputation the world over for culinary excellence Le Cordon Bleu is the largest hospitality education institution with over fifty schools and 20,000 students worldwide. Located in Bloomsbury Square, just two minutes from London’s Holborn station, students don’t have far to go for culinary inspiration or even potential jobs with Michelin-starred restaurants all around them.

Inspiration may also be found by scrolling through the school's impressive alumni list. Best-selling author and restaurateur Yotam Ottolenghi attended, as did fellow writer and broadcaster Allegra McEvedy. Internationally, Rachel Khoo studied at their Paris counterpart as did the great Julia Child, celebrated as one of the first writers to introduce French cooking to the American masses.

Le Cordon Bleu offers a range of professional courses to its students from culinary and pâtisserie, to wine and hospitality management. With a focus on on cuisine and pâtisserie, Le Cordon Bleu offers three professional courses to its students. The Diplôme de Cuisine course provides students with a rigorous and comprehensive foundation in classical French cookery, the Diplôme de Pâtisserie - as the name suggests - offers students a programme focused on classic French pastry techniques. Finally the Grand Diplôme, a three-term Cordon Bleu Qualification and the most prestigious qualification, combines the study of the Diplôme de Cuisine and Diplôme de Pâtisserie. Students have the option of completing the the Diplôme de Cuisine and Diplôme de Pâtisserie in nine-months or in a condensed six-month course.

Le Cordon Bleu
Le Cordon Bleu

Tante Marie Culinary Academy

Based in Woking town centre, just twenty-five minutes from central London, Tante Marie has the unique honour of being the UK’s longest established independent cookery school, celebrating its sixtieth birthday last year. Instead of sitting back and relying on its excellent reputation, the school has pushed ahead with several exciting changes recently. Moving out of its Victorian mansion on the outskirts of Surrey and relocating to a new home in central Woking, the school’s new premises boast brand new state of the art kitchens and a training restaurant staffed by its very own graduates.

Students at Tante Marie have the option of a one-term Cordon Bleu certificate in foundation level cookery and two professional diploma courses - a three-term Cordon Bleu or a two-term intensive Cordon Bleu. On completion of either course graduates will receive a CTH level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts - a qualification which Tante Marie actually created with the exam awarding body and is also used today by both Leiths and Ashburtons.

Tante Marie pride themselves on the amount of practical cooking time their students receive, some schools offer a 50:50 split between classes and demonstrations, whilst Tante Marie students spend 80% of their time in the kitchen. With notable alumni including Great British Menu’s Neil Rankin, Cook Yourself Thin’s Harry Eastwood and Absolute Taste founder Lyndy Redding, it’s hard to argue that the extra kitchen time isn’t working!

 
 
Tante Marie Culinary Academy
Tante Marie Culinary Academy

Leiths School of Food and Wine

For anyone looking to kickstart a career in food Leiths provide excellent and varied professional courses in food and wine. Located ten minutes walk from Stamford Brook underground station, Leith’s are unique by offering separate certificates in foundation, intermediate and advanced cookery, as well as their two-term and three-term diplomas. This gives prospective students the opportunity to tailor their studies according to their skill level.

Guest chefs are a regular occurrence at Leiths and have in the past included Atul Kochhar of Benares, Bruce Poole of Chez Bruce and Peter Gordon of Providores. As part of their course students will have the opportunity to make guided trips to Billingsgate fish market and Smithfield meat market to learn how to buy from suppliers. Leiths provide their students with a grounding in world cuisines and food trends with specialist lectures in Italian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, gluten-free, vegan and wild yeast bread making. Students will also complete a Level 2 Intermediate Certificate in Wines and Spirits

The alumni list of Leiths is like a who’s who of British food culture. Lorraine Pascale is a former student and so is Sam Clark, joint founder of Moro. Another Leiths trained chef is Henry Harris who was famously executive chef at Harvey Nichol’s The Fifth Floor restaurant.

 
 
Leiths School of Food and Wine
Leiths School of Food and Wine

Ashburton’s Chef Academy

Based in a town on the edge of Dartmoor, South Devon, Ashburton’s is a relatively new school, having only started to offer a professional qualification recently. They are a school very much on the rise, however, with plans to expand to a second venue in Halifax for 2016. With a picturesque location in an old Georgian market town, the main Ashburton school provides their students with unrivaled access to the incredible produce found in abundance all over Devon. The school has also assembled an impressive array of experienced teachers from some of Britain’s best restaurants - ready to pass on their knowledge to the next generation of chefs.

Students may choose between a CTH Level 4 Professional Culinary Diploma, a Diploma in Professional Patisserie or a four week Professional Cookery Foundation certificate. Whilst the other culinary schools offer to help their students find accommodation nearby, Ashburton go one step further by offering an option of shared accommodation for a set price at Finlake Lodges, a luxury holiday park that provides free transport to the school and access to all its leisure facilities.

Graduates have gone on to to work in a variety of food related jobs including pastry chef at Gordon Ramsay's Maze restaurant, as a chef at Riverford Field Kitchen and have set up their own event catering companies.

 
 
Ashburton’s Chef Academy
Ashburton’s Chef Academy

For more information on the full range of courses available at the schools mentioned above, including shorter courses and introductory classes, please contact the schools directly.

 
 
 

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