Online Culinary Training … Really?

Filed under: Bites & Bits , Author: Caron Golden , September 13, 2012

Training is essential to success.

Degrees, certificates, avocational classes, specific experience, externships and stages are all traditional avenues to attain appropriate training to make the pursuit of a career in the food industry a realistic choice.

How and where you obtain a skill set is often an expensive and time-consuming proposition—one that can lead to significant student loans that take years to repay and often can become a crushing weight on the back of a culinary-school grad who comes to the all-too-often painful realization that commercial foodservice is simply not a realizable career path for many of the reasons that are not always explained prior to signing on the dotted line on the student-loan form.

How to avoid this potentially devastating situation?

First, do your homework before assuming the responsibility of a huge student loan and explore all of the options available to acquire a culinary skill set. In addition to traditional two- and four-year culinary-arts programs at culinary schools, community colleges and private institutions that grant certificates and degrees, enter online culinary training.

HOW, you may ask, can an online program train cooks?

That was my initial reaction, but something at the back of my mind kept nudging me. EVERYTHING is going to be available online soon. Don’t dismiss this option without exploring the possibilities.

Some brick-and-mortar schools have converted to demonstration classes vs. hands-on training, so how is this different?

OPTIONS have always been important to me. I have seen so many talented, competent chefs and other professional foodservice workers forced to walk away from the industry because they could not be available nights, weekends and holidays on the line, or were simply burned out by an aberrant lifestyle. The tragedy was there were no options for them to exercise. They simply left the business in the hope of starting over again elsewhere. I was one of them.

And I did start over. Twenty years ago I embarked on an enormous recycling project by creating a new career path called “personal chef.” It was designed to provide an OPTION for women chefs who wanted to not only start families, but be able to be the heart of their households while continuing to cook for a living—chefs of a certain age who wanted to continue to support their families through culinary careers, but who needed to cook on schedules that matched their circumstances. Young chefs who were clear they wanted to own businesses of their own, but could never compete with corporate-backed venues and didn’t necessarily want to own a restaurant with all of the risks and responsibilities when they could start a small personal-chef business with reasonable investment and risk. Second-career chefs who knew they wanted to cook for a living, but were well past the age of realistically surviving commercial cooking situations.

I’ve spent the past 20 years nurturing and developing this alternative culinary career and am proud to have provided a viable, professionally validated OPTION for thousands of professional culinary people who are supporting themselves and their loved ones by cooking on their own terms and celebrating their small-business ownership status. They exercised the OPTION to stay in the industry, but to do it differently than the traditional career progression.

An online culinary program is not attempting to replace a degree from the CIA. It is designed to provide a realistic proficiency so that an individual seeking employment in the foodservice industry can apply for and realistically compete for employment.

At restaurants I’ve worked in, we hired individuals who offered to do ANYTHING to get the job, and learned as they went along. Some of those individuals are still successfully employed in the industry of their choice, even though they could not afford culinary school or the time to complete a formal training program. So often as chefs, we would say, “I could train a dishwasher with the right attitude and commitment rather than a new culinary-school grad without the commitment or discipline to succeed.”

What is so different about the online-trained applicant? They committed to the training program, passed the tests and met the requirements necessary to complete the process, and are anxious to learn to polish their newly acquired skills and work in the industry of their choice. It may have taken them less time to complete the program, and it may have cost them less, but their potential at this beginning phase of their career is no less real than that of a recent culinary- school grad. As we all know, the TRUE education begins in that first position in the back of the house.

The Internet is changing everything. I always contain my prejudices as best I can. I never want to discount a viable OPTION without giving it sufficient thought and consideration. And this is my two cents.

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Caron Golden


Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.


  1. Avatar

    OPTIONS are endless and there certainly are many provided to us on a daily basis. OPTIONS found on the Internet have converted many people’s limitations to opportunities.

    I’m a case in point–as Candy says the basis of our group is varied by each member’s background and/or desire. As a SECOND CAREER-driven convert to the Personal Chef industry, I can attest to the fact that without the OPTIONS on the internet I would not be a successful Personal Chef today. After reading a newspaper article about Personal Chefs I jumped right on the web to research. There were OPTIONS but I chose to fly with APPCA, and 8 years later I am happy to say I got the best of the OPTIONS available.

    Candy, thank you for all you continue to do to validate our OPTIONS!

    Comment by Chef Jim — September 14, 2012 @ 8:32 am

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    Hello chef,l am in the culinary fgield for decade,l need training yo be a privaye and personal chef,what t o do?who to conyact?whay to do to build my personal business?how long yhe training takes?whay are the fees cost?whay to do to be a Appca member?

    Comment by Bernard Akoa — July 29, 2020 @ 1:39 am

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