Many people consider attending a culinary school, either because they want to pursue a culinary career or because they just want to learn to cook for their own enjoyment. Sometimes, though, people can be skeptical about whether a specialized culinary education, or even a few cooking classes, is really necessary. If you are among the latter group, here is a list of five important things you will learn in culinary school.
Basic Nutrition: Nutrition is about more than what the label on the back of a package tells you. In fact, food labels can be appallingly misleading. Your body needs a host of vitamins and minerals every day in order to maintain its good health, as well as other things such as calories and fiber. Unfortunately, food labels are usually geared to sell, and can sometimes confuse and mislead consumers.
Think, for example, about the subcategories listed under the total carbohydrates: sugar and fiber. Often, however, these amounts don’t add up to the total carbohydrates. What does this mean? How do sugar and carbohydrates differ?
In addition to confusing packaging labels, you have to worry about how to ensure that your family is getting the necessary amounts of nutrients, even though many of the vitamins and minerals we need aren’t listed on most food labels. How do you make sure that a meal is nutritionally sound, yet still delicious and satisfying?
These are the kinds of nutritional questions that an education from a culinary school can answer.
Chemistry: A cooking education will also teach you about chemistry. However, we’re not talking about beakers and smelly chemicals, like in high school. At a culinary school, you will learn about applied chemistry.
Every time you cook something, whether it is meat, vegetables, or pastries, a chemical reaction happens. That chemical reaction can change or enhance the flavor and texture of the food. For instance, the chemical reaction can be as simple as the softening of tough vegetables when you boil them in water, or as exotic as lighting the top of a pie or an alcoholic drink on fire.
Being able to control these chemical reactions is an important part of being a good cook. A culinary school will teach you different ways of cooking foods, and how each method can affect the taste and texture of the food.
Spices: Spices are a mystery for most people. Indeed, many people never venture beyond salt, pepper, and maybe some basil and parsley. Cooking with spices is an art, however, and can be used to change and enhance the flavor of food in any number of ways.
There are dozens of different spices to choose from, though, so how do you know what spices go best with what foods, let alone with each other? An education from a culinary school will teach you how to use spices to the food’s best advantage, enabling you to enhance flavors in ways you never dreamed were possible.
Visual Arrangement: You’ve probably heard it said before that cooking is an art. Well, the culinary art is about more than simply preparing the food. It is also about how you arrange it. The visual presentation of a dish can make a difference between your basic restaurant food and an exquisite dining experience.
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Visual arrangement is a vital skill for professional chefs. A culinary school can teach you how to arrange food to look the most pleasing and artistic, delighting your guests and enhancing their enjoyment beyond mere taste sensations. Even if you aren’t going to pursue a career as a chef, however, food arrangement can be a valuable skill. Just think about how you could impress your friends and family, perhaps even coaxing a picky child into eating his or her vegetables.
Wine: Connoisseurs know that the ability to match the perfect wine to an exquisite meal is one of the finest culinary arts. Choosing wine is a study in subtlety, as every wine has a slightly different taste. The minor variance can make all the difference in whether a wine goes better with fish or pasta, steak or chicken.
It is vital for anyone in the culinary industry to be knowledgeable about wine, but many people are interested in wine regardless of their cooking skills. Wine has always been a symbol of culture, with connoisseurs attending wine tastings and collecting exotic wines in their own homes. Taking classes from a culinary school is the best way to learn all about wine, its subtleties and how to match it successfully with different foods.
As you can see, an education from a culinary school has value for many people, whether you intend to pursue a culinary career, cook for your own pleasure, or provide delicious and balanced meals for your family. You can sign up for just a few cooking classes, or for the specialized degree, but either way you are bound to learn things you never knew before.