Culinary Arts Classes Gaining Popularity

By Staff
September 25, 2009

Culinary schools are seeing increased attendance in their non-degree courses both by people looking to hone their cooking skills and those considering new careers.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that at City College of San Francisco, noncredit courses in the Culinary and Service Skills Training Program are filled to capacity. At Napa Valley College's cooking school, nearly half the students say they are there to explore new careers. And the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena recently introduced Career Discovery Boot Camp, which offers five-day programs that provide training in the professional food service field.

The camp was "an opportunity to continue to reinvent myself in the food and hospitality world I escaped to when I ran away from the corporate world," explained Diane De Filipi, a former executive for a naval weapons system manufacturer who now owns a bed and breakfast and gives private cooking classes. "Food is constantly evolving."

The CIA program costs just under $2,000, and some may question the wisdom of investing in a culinary career when the economic downturn has caused many restaurants to close their doors. But according to CIA baking and pastry instructor John Difilippo, job possibilities still exist. "We are constantly getting calls from restaurants, hotels, bakeries, looking for graduates," he said.

The Northwest Herald in Illinois reports that the culinary program at McHenry County College is also attracting a mix of students with a wide range of ages and experience. For example, Jamie Goddeyne, 30, who has a degree in German translation, is eager to learn more about the restaurant business.

"I'm learning a lot of technical stuff, and I hope to use this as a springboard to get back in the kitchen," he said.

Still others are enrolling in culinary classes for economic reasons: The Arizona Republic reports that since so many are cutting back on restaurant meals, people are hoping to polish their cooking skills at home. Martie Sullivan, who operates Sweet Basil Gourmetware and Cooking School, noted that many baby boomers enroll in her classes to help them learn how to create inexpensive meals for entertaining guests.

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