Classic Culinary Arts
In 600 hours, Classic Culinary Arts takes you from basic knife skills through training on every station on the line, providing you with real-world knowledge that will support you in any field of the culinary industry.
The International Culinary Center was founded as The French Culinary Institute. There’s a good reason for that. Classic French principles have been the foundation upon which all Western cuisine has been built. In our Classic Culinary Arts course, you will be deeply immersed for six to nine months in every aspect of world-class classic training. Those six to nine months begin with basic knife skills and end with you being prepared to walk into any food environment with first-class entry-level skills. It might be a restaurant kitchen, catering firm, TV studio, or top flight magazine food department.
Small Classes, Great Passions
When you study here, your work is under a microscope. Our chef-instructors are passionate people with world-class standards. That’s why our attention on you has to be personal. Every time a student leaves The International Culinary Center, it is our standards that are put to the test, as well as our students'.
Our chef-instructors are all trained in a program developed by Columbia Teacher’s College. This ensures that they are great teachers, as well as great chefs.
We make sure that classes are of a small size. You’ll get used to the eyes of wise and experienced chef-instructors. They’re on you all the time. That’s what happens in great kitchens. Because passion is the main reason you come here and the same reason that they teach here, you’ll find that knowledge is imparted and absorbed far more quickly and with far more intensity
A Preparation for Every Western Cuisine
Talk to any great Western chef and they’ll tell you that all the great cuisines of Europe utilize classic French principles. The French took techniques and codified them. Ferran Adrià might have driven the Western world into wild avant-garde directions, but his heroes were the great French chefs who paved his way. Our method of teaching—we call it Total ImmersionSM —ensures that you will not only grasp the very first knife in the right way, but then follow and replicate the greats in the way they treat sauces and stocks or meat and eggs. There isn’t a world-class kitchen anywhere that wouldn’t expect you to have this preparation.
Learn from the Greats
Jacques Pépin, Alain Sailhac, André Soltner, David Kinch. It is their culinary expertise that is at the core of our program. Our deans have an unparalleled reputation for both talent and standards. It is their guiding hands that ensure that when you come to The International Culinary Center’s Classic Culinary Arts program, you will emerge with the same rigorous principles that were their guiding light.
How We Keep the Classics Contemporary
So many of our alumni have begun with us teaching them these principles and then flown to heights no one could have ever imagined. Wyle Dufresne, Bobby Flay, David Chang, Josh Skenes, Dan Barber, they have shown how you can understand the heart of Western cuisine and then improvise from it. We are lucky that we can gather constant feedback from some of the world’s most famous chefs who make up our Program Advisory Committee. Their input always makes sure we can introduce new elements that are impacting today’s cuisine. No world-class curriculum can possibly stand still. So ours is constantly modified, on the basis of the latest input and the latest culinary developments.
How We Teach
You’d expect classes in the most important principles of cooking to be conducted according to definitive principles. At the beginning of every class, there is a short lesson from the chef-instructor, in which you’ll become familiar not merely with terminology, but with the important reasons why things are done in a certain way. You’ll see dishes being created before being asked to create them yourself. You’ll also see our chef-instructors watching your every move. That might sound daunting, but it’s actually vital. Our commitment lies in ensuring that you grasp these essentials until they are second nature. How better to do this than by ensuring you understand them and that you don’t take on habits that, in a world-class kitchen, will cause the chef de cuisine to raise an uncomfortable eyebrow.
What You'll Cover
You’ll walk out of The International Culinary Center with the skills you need to walk into a successful culinary career anywhere in the world. You begin with knife skills and you end with cooking in a real-life restaurant. In between, you’ll learn everything there is to know about stocks and sauces, vegetables, grains, butchery, technology, poultry and game birds, fish and shellfish, meat and eggs, pastry and desserts, plating, wine, and menu design. You’ll be schooled in the intangibles that come with being a world-class chef. Equally importantly, you’ll also gain the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe® Food Protection Manager Certification.
Prove Yourself in Our Michelin®-Rated Restaurant, L'Ecole
One of the joys of studying at our New York campus is that during the last two months of your training, you will cook lunch or dinner in L’Ecole, our restaurant that has received many accolades from organizations such as Michelin® and Zagat®. The customers are real hungry, picky New Yorkers. They come there expecting the very best and they might even tell you when they don’t get it. This is a real-life, real-world challenge that no one else can offer.
Make it To Carnegie Hall
Our graduation ceremony takes place at a New York iconic landmark, Carnegie Hall. There, you’ll be able to look around, see your peers, as well as outstanding alumni.
You’ll be part of a tradition and a group of people whose main goal is to move world cuisine to untapped levels of excellence.
The Classic Culinary Arts curriculum is organized into six levels structured around The The International Culinary Center's core principles of quality and discipline and are designed to prepare you for the pace and rigors of the restaurant kitchen. Here is an overview of the topics you'll cover:
Quality: Introduction to Culinary Techniques
Quality: Building Culinary Foundations
Discipline: Skills for Consistency and Refinement
Discipline: Techniques in Buffet, Charcuterie, and Volume Cooking
Reality: Introduction to Restaurant Service
Reality: Confidence, Control & Creativity in Restaurant Reality
Here the standards will be set. You'll begin to learn the culinary techniques and the discipline that will serve as the foundation, not just for your time in class, but for your entire culinary career. You'll become oriented with using the equipment and tools of the professional kitchen and gain an understanding of the brigade system of organization and teamwork, which is at the heart of every serious kitchen. You'll build your confidence as you learn the basics, which include:
Knife skills and classic methods for cooking vegetables: To become an efficient member of the kitchen, you need to gain control over your knife set. You'll learn which knives are best for which jobs, and how to properly care for them. Through a series of intensive, repetitive exercises, you'll become comfortable handling your knives, allowing you to produce uniform pieces that will cook evenly and have visual appeal. Through talliage (cutting vegetables into even sizes and shapes), you'll learn a variety of different techniques, including émincer (thin slice), batonnet (small sticks), brunoise (small dice), and paysanne (tile shaped), to name a few. You'll move on to tournage, where you'll learn techniques for shaping vegetables. During these lessons, you'll put everything you’ve cut to good use, cooking your vegetables á l’anglaise, á l’étuvée, and glacer (glazed).
Food safety and hygiene: Safe handling of food is critical in all kitchens, but most of all in the professional kitchen. We'll teach you general rules of hygiene, as well as comprehensive food handling and safety issues so that you’ll be prepared to work responsibly in the kitchen environment.
Ingredient identification: In order to learn how to create dishes that employ a variety of flavors, textures, and colors, you need to be able to identify and understand how to use a number of ingredients. You'll use all your senses as you familiarize yourself with a wide range of proteins, vegetables, starches, grains, herbs, and spices.
Stocks: Stocks are perhaps the most basic and most important kitchen preparations any chef will learn—and the quality of stock you prepare will have a direct impact on the quality of the sauce or preparation in which it is used. You'll learn how to combine seemingly humble ingredients, such as bones from chicken, beef, veal, or fish, with aromatic vegetables and a bouquet garni (a mixture of herbs) to create brown, white, fish, marmite (white beef stock with blackened onions), and vegetable stocks.
Sauces: You'll be able to use your newly achieved stock skills to make sauces that will complement, but never overwhelm, a dish. You'll see how some sauces function as condiments, by contrasting with foods or amplifying their intrinsic flavors, and learn how to marry stocks with binding elements, such as starches and proteins, to create the five “mother” sauces: velouté, Espagnole, hollandaise, béchamel, and tomato, as well many of their derivatives.
Soup: You'll continue to explore the versatility of stocks, as you use them as the foundation to make a variety of soups. Create classic consommés by clarifying stocks with proteins and aromatics and delve into the variety of ways to garnish them. Prepare rich, velvety bound soups such as crèmes and veloutés by combining stocks and sauces, or use vegetables and liquids to create a variety of flavorful vegetable purées.
Food preservation: While brining, pickling, confit, and dehydration were used initially to prevent food from spoiling in the days before refrigeration and pasteurization, today we rely on these methods for the complex flavors they impart to dishes.You'll create gravlax, duck confit, and preserved lemons, as well as learn to reconstitute preserved foods, such as dried salt cod as you create brandade de morue.
Salads and vinaigrettes: Salads—a mix of foods accompanied or bound together by a dressing—require a chef to think carefully about flavors and make them work harmoniously on the plate. You'll explore the range of salads from simple greens to composed salads such as salad niçoise, where several ingredients are prepared and seasoned separately, then presented together on one plate. Because no salad is complete without dressing, you'll learn how to combine oils and vinegars to make vinaigrettes.
Potatoes: Enduringly popular, potatoes are a perfect complement to many a dish. You'll learn why starchy potatoes work well for fried, baked, and mashed preparations, while waxy potatoes are better suited for gratins, stews, and salads. You'll create a number of classic dishes, including the deep-fried pommes gaufrette and pommes pont neuf, preparations based on pureed potatoes such as pommes duchesse and pommes croquets, buttery pommes Anna, and the baked gratin dauphinois.
Principles of cooking and introduction to fish: Your study of cooking proteins begins with understanding the science behind it: how texture, appearance, and taste change depending on how heat is applied and whether it's dry (as in grilling), moist (as in poaching), or a combination of both. Your practice starts with fish—first learning how to classify them, based on whether they are lean, medium, and fatty, as well as the water they come from. With your trusty knives at the ready, you'll get hands-on experience in cleaning fish, as you learn to fillet and portion fish for serving. Your fillets will be the centerpiece as you prepare recipes, such as poisson en papillote (fish baked in parchment paper) and filet de limande bonne femme (flounder braised with white wine, shallots, and cream), that employ a variety of cooking methods.
Shellfish: You'll learn to identify, handle, and prepare a wide variety of shellfish, including lobsters, crabs, oysters, scallops, octopus, and sea urchins. You'll prepare shellfish in the à la américaine style, in which the crushed shells are roasted and used to flavor the sauce, as well as by poaching in a delicate court bouillon.
Poultry: As you continue to practice the various methods of cooking proteins to proper doneness, you'll also expand your butchering knowledge and skills. You'll learn the different classifications of chicken and game birds, and how to truss or quarter them. Your chef-instructor will present a demonstration of canard rôti à l'orange (roast duck with orange sauce), and you'll prepare a variety of chicken, duck, and quail dishes.
Beef: You'll learn about the primal and subprimal cuts of beef, USDA grading, and how marbling and aging contribute to the overall flavor of beef. You'll grill a strip loin to serve with compound butter you've created from a combination of butter, herbs, and lemon, as well as fashion beef medallions to serve with a sauce bordelaise. You'll learn how to distinguish doneness (rare, medium, well-done, etc.) by evaluating texture and measuring temperature.
Pork: Currently one of the most popular proteins on the food scene, pork has a long history as the basis for the culinary preparation known as charcuterie. You'll be introduced to such products as hams, sausages, pâtés, and terrines, which you’ll study much more extensively later in the program. You'll learn how marinades, brines, rubs, and pastes can be applied to impart flavors, and you'll try your hand at making a ginger marinated pork fillet in a sweet and sour sauce.
Lamb: You'll learn about the primal and subprimal cuts of lamb and revisit direct and indirect cooking methods, including the technique for making navarin, a French stew featuring lamb. Your chef-instructor will also demo another favorite: roasted leg of lamb with Provençal herbs.
Additional items you’ll make in this level include:
- potage cultivateur (rustic vegetable soup)
- duck confit
- filet de truite a la grenobloise (trout with brown butter, capers, and lemon)
- moules a la marinere (mussels steamed with white wine, shallots, and parsley
- Coquilles Saint-Jacques, coulis au persil (seared scallops with parsley coulis
- escargot Bourguignon (snails in the style of Burgundy)
- poulet sauté chasseur (sautéed chicken, hunter style)
- pan-roasted quail with rice and sausage stuffing
- côtes de porc charcutérie (pork chops with sauce charcutérie)
- côtes d’agneau avec ratatouille (marinated lamb chops with vegetable ragout)
You’ll build and expand upon the knowledge you developed in Level 1 as you continue to practice cooking, butchering, and knife cutting. While you explore a range of new ingredients and techniques, your chef-instructors will encourage you to think critically about the composition of your plates—a skill that will be increasingly emphasized as you move closer to cooking in L’Ecole.
Game, veal, and mixed cooking techniques: You‘ll expand on earlier lessons on game birds with the study of other game meats, including venison, bison, and rabbit, as well as veal. Although game meats are generally leaner than other farm-raised meats, and veal more delicate, both can benefit from mixed cooking techniques, such as braising or poaching.
Offal and forcemeats: You’ll learn about the composition, cleaning, and preparation of a wide range of offal (organ meats), which includes kidney, liver, tripe, sweetbread, and tongue. You’ll transform these often overlooked proteins into a variety of tasty dishes, featuring them on their own in such dishes as pan-fried sweetbreads with brown butter caper sauce and creamy goat cheese polenta, or combining them with bases, textures, flavorings, and binding agents to create forcemeats, including pâtés and galantines.
Eggs: Eggs are a chef’s staple, and the basis of many popular dishes. Understanding the chemistry and versatility of eggs will help you develop command over a number of egg preparations, including omlettes and poached and baked eggs. With eggs, you’ll begin to explore the sweeter side of the kitchen. You’ll combine eggs with additional ingredients and various cooking methods to create stirred custards (crème anglaise), starch-bound custards (crème pâtissière), baked custards (crème brûlée), and molded crème and gelatin custards (crème bavaroise). You’ll learn to make crème anglaise, which you can use as a plating sauce or as the custard base for ice cream, and you’ll learn the correct techniques for whipping egg whites, so you can make light-as-air meringues, mousses, and soufflés.
Pastry: From your introduction making egg lightened and leavened desserts, you will move on to learning basic pastry doughs. First, you’ll work with pâte à choux (cream-puff dough), a versatile dough that can be baked, fried, or poached in water, making it adaptable to many sweet and savory presentations. Then you’ll move on to making pâte brisée, a flaky pastry crust that you’ll use to make quiche Lorraine, and pâte sucrée, a sweet pastry crust that’s perfect for dessert tarts of all kinds.
Cake & puff pastry: You’ll be introduced to basic types of cakes, including génoise (a whole-egg foam cake) and biscuit (a separated-egg foam cake). You’ll also make simple syrups and buttercreams for flavoring and decorating your cakes. Next, you’ll move on to the art of making pâte feuilletée (puff pastry). This flaky, layered pastry is created by incorporating the dough with a block of butter through a process of repeated folding and rolling of the dough. Used to mark tarts, palmiers, and napoleons, this dough also has great application in the savory kitchen.
Desserts in the restaurant kitchen: Although crêpes are most commonly served as savory appetizers, they may also be served as a dessert, as you’ll see when you prepare and flambé crêpes with brandy to create crêpes Suzette. Here, you’ll round out your dessert experience by making banana fritters and learning various techniques for tempering chocolate.
Cheese, wine, and spirits: You’ll explore the vast world of cheese—gaining an understanding of the cheese making process, as well how to classify and select it. As with wine, there is a similar tasting protocol for cheese, and you’ll use all of your senses to identify flavors. You will also gain the tips you will need for determining portion size and presenting cheese for restaurant service. You’ll learn about wine and spirits and how these beverages work to complement a dish and enhance the dining experience.
Grains and pasta: It’s been a while since you’ve worked exclusively with starches, and now it’s time to increase your expertise. You’ll learn about the varieties and basic methods for cooking rice for such applications as pilafs and rich, creamy risottos. Your pasta making skills will be put to the test, as you learn to make fresh egg pasta, by hand and with a machine, and use the resulting silky sheets to create ricotta-stuffed ravioli and hearty meat lasagna.
Seasonality, sustainability, and nutrition: With buzzwords like locavore and organic being discussed in culinary circles, it’s time for you to learn about the growing influence of seasonal and sustainable products and how they can enhance the dining experience. You’ll also learn nutrition fundamentals and the principles for planning nutritionally balanced meals.
Food costing and menu planning: For all the craft and creativity that go into being a chef, it’s vital to also have an understanding of the financial health of your operation. Through a number of exercises, you’ll learn about recipe development and costing, menu development and pricing, as well as how to determine the costs that go into food preparation and service.
Menu and plating design: You’ll learn how the art of plating has evolved over the years and explore how composition, garnishes, sauces, and color add to the diner’s enjoyment of a dish. You’ll also spend time looking at the bigger picture, learning how aesthetic considerations, practical issues of physical and personnel resources, and product availability and utilization all factor into menu composition. Keeping those considerations in mind, you’ll complete Level 2 by creating your own menu consisting of items you’ve cooked in Levels 1 and 2, plus your own special dish using assigned ingredients.
Additional items you’ll make in this level include:
- venison loin with sauce bordelaise and pommes darphin
- pot au feu, sauce raifort (simmered beef with horseradish sauce)
- rabbit ragout with vegetables and pommes purée
- foie de veau (sautéed calf’s liver)
- paupiette de volaille (stuffed escalope of chicken)
- oeufs cocotte à la crème (eggs baked in cream)
- crème reversèe (crème caramel)
- chocolate soufflé
- tarte aux poires à la frangipane (pear tart with almond cream)
- bar raye sur lentils (striped bass over lentils)
- fresh ricotta
- mushroom risotto
- gnocchi aux pommes de terre (potato gnocchi)
Up until now, you’ve worked mainly on your own or with a partner. Level 3 introduces you to the organization of the French brigade, a system of kitchen organization that is prevalent throughout the restaurant industry.
You’ll rotate through garde manger (salads and cold preparations), poissoner (fish and seafood), saucier (sauces and meat), and pâtissier (pastry and desserts), all the while participating in team exercises that will prepare you for the demands of the professional kitchen, where cooks are required to deliver dishes both on time and with consistency to your customers. As your dishes are evaluated by your peers and chef-instructors, you’ll receive valuable feedback that can be applied to future lessons. You’ll also be introduced to the basics of sous-vide and low temperature cooking, discuss practical information, such as job searching skills, and continue to build your butchery skills, filleting and boning fish, breaking down chicken and other poultry, and fabricating steaks, racks, and chops from primal cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal. Level 3 concludes with a practical and written midterm exam.
Additional items you’ll make in this level include:
- aile de raie à la Grenoble (sautéed skate wing with brown butter, capers, and lemon)
- escalope de saumon grillée, sauce au vin blanc et aux herbs (grilled salmon with white wine herb sauce)
- bouef bourguignon
- côte de porc, sauce au poivre vert (sautéed center-cut pork chop with green peppercorn sauce
- choux à la crème chantilly (cream puffs filled with whipped cream)
- pots de crème with tuiles
- tarte aux citron (lemon tart)
You’ve made it through the midterm and are ready to tackle new challenges in the kitchen. Level 4 is broken down into two sections, which will give you and your classmates the opportunity to continue to sharpen your techniques as you grow your skills in organization, time management, and working as a team.
Staff meal: You’ll delve deeper into high-volume cooking by preparing the daily “family meal” for your fellow students and staff, which includes a menu of seasonal dishes and a menu of ethnic vegetarian dishes Beyond continuing to practice your technique, you will also be able to hone your meal planning, portion sizing, and kitchen math skills. You’ll prepare a range of vegetable, salads/starches, and entrées—and if class size permits, you'll gain experience as a sous chef, assisting your chef-instructors with managing the duties of the day.
Buffet and charcuterie: Your group will be called upon to plan, budget, and execute a themed buffet to serve 50 guests, and you’ll be asked to pull out all the culinary stops—making a soup, an assortment of canapés and hors d'oeuvres, five different types of charcuterie and accompanying condiments, three appetizers, a carving station, side dishes, and desserts. When all the preparation is done, you’ll be responsible for manning a buffet station and serving the guests (your fellow classmates). You’ll also be able to enjoy watching them savor the results of your labors. Although you’re sure to get immediate reactions from people on the scene, your entire performance—planning, production, timing, event flow, and presentation—will be reviewed and assessed by your chef-instructors.
The specific items made in this level are determined by your chef-instructor; they may include:
- confit d’oie ou de canard (preserved duck or goose)
- country pâté
- foie gras terrine
- saucisson à l’ail
- saumon poché en gelée, sauce andalouse (chilled poached salmon with aspic, tomato-red pepper sauce
- saumon o bar en croute dorée (salmon or bass with mousseline of pike in pastry)
- terrine d’aubergines arc-en-ceil (eggplant terrine with roasted vegetables)
- roasted leg of lamb with green olives and lemon crust
- Thai green curry with eggplant, zucchini, and peppers
- red wine braised short ribs
- choucroute garni with herbed spaetzel
Now, it’s showtime—the moment you’ve been waiting for! You’ll be challenged to put everything you have learned literally “on the line,” by cooking in a real-life restaurant setting.
Under the watchful supervision of your chef-instructors, you’ll flex your culinary muscles at the Michelin- and Zagat-rated L’Ecole and have customers eat—and pay for—what you’ve prepared. Cooking in the only culinary school restaurant in New York City, you’ll have the unique opportunity to work every station on the line. You’ll rotate through garde manger, poissonier, saucier, entremetier (vegetable chef), and pâtissier—working to prep and cook à la minute a number of contemporary dishes. As you work in concert with your classmates, you’ll continue to gain speed and confidence in your abilities and feel a sense of pride that comes from being part of a highly efficient kitchen team. Your chef-instructors will be a constant presence, providing guidance and support while they also evaluate your performance in this setting. In this level, you’ll also have the opportunity to show your creativity off the line, by producing a special project—a creative menu in the cuisine of your choice with recipes, beverage pairings, illustrations, and a food costing summary.
L’Ecole’s menu changes frequently. Items from previous menus include:
- merguez with harissa, couscous, and winter vegetables
- daube of beef short ribs
- boudin blanc with beluga lentils
- smoked scallops with butternut squash puree and caramelized Brussels sprouts crisped branzino with braised endive, radicchio, and white bean ragout
- hanger steak with peppercorn sauce, marrow, and cauliflower purée
- Calvados baba with chestnut ice cream, toasted peanuts, and apple chips
- pumpkin soufflé with eggnog sauce
As you enter Level 6, you’ll continue your rotation through the stations at L’Ecole, but the bar will be raised even higher.
The menu items you’ll be responsible for preparing will be more complex, requiring a higher level of skill and execution of the fundamentals you’ve learned. Your training culminates with the final exam, in which you’ll be asked to prepare and present two menu items selected at random from the curriculum. Every nuance of your dishes will be reviewed, not only by your chef-instructors, who will also be evaluating your performance behind the scenes (assessing your cleanliness, organization, timing, and technique, as well as the progress you’ve made throughout the program), but also in a face-to-face critique by a panel of industry professionals from the New York City food community (it frequently includes award-winning chefs and well-known food critics). This is truly your moment to shine, as you are on the cusp of graduation and the beginning of a new chapter in your culinary career.
L’Ecole’s menu changes frequently. Items from previous menus include:
- lobster consommé with lobster tortellini
- cavatelli with arugula pesto, sundried tomato, and toasted pine nuts
- poached halibut, potato terrine, and spiced chicken consommé
- cod with chorizo, clams, kale, and saffron potatoes
- sautéed breast of duckling with braised duck leg and cranberry and orange sauce
- pork chop with soft polenta and tomato jam
- chocolate-orange parfait
- Bosc pear tart with brown butter powder and chartreuse ice cream
Graduates of The The International Culinary Center have gone on to enjoy success in a variety of settings. Some have opened their own businesses or made their mark in restaurant and hotel kitchens. And others have blazed new trails in careers as food writing and editing, styling, catering, food retail, and countless other positions in the expanding world of food.
Featured Classic Culinary Arts Alumni
Turn Your Passion for Culinary Arts into College Credits at The New School
Graduates of our Classic Culinary Arts program whose GPAs are 3.0 (equivalent to an 85% cumulative average) or higher can now transfer 22 credits towards a
Bachelor of Arts or Science from The New School for Public Engagement, a division of The New School—one of the foremost private universities in New York City. A total of 60 credits from International Culinary Center programs may be applied towards the 120 credit requirement for a degree in Liberal Arts from The New School for Public Engagement.
To get started, speak to your admission representative about how to start earning credits today. Click here to learn more about college credit opportunities in our other programs.
Recent Military Veterans & Their Spouses
Veterans and surviving family members of veterans whose deaths or disabilities were service connected may be eligible for educational benefits, including funds made available through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Additionally, honorably discharged military veterans may apply for International Culinary Center Veterans Tuition Scholarships. Speak to an admission representative for more information.
Students who pay in full the total cost of tuition for this program are eligible for a $500 paid-in-full credit. The entire tuition due must be paid in full by cash, check, or credit card upon enrollment or no later than one week prior to the start date.
Explore Your Financial Aid Options
We have a dedicated team of advisers on hand to help qualified students identify and apply for sources of financial aid funding. To get started, visit the Financial Aid section of the website or contact us for more information.