Making the decision to get your Culinary Arts education could be the first step on a journey to having your dream career as a chef. Learn about what it’s like to go to culinary school and train in the International Culinary Center (ICC) kitchen in New York City or California.
ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts Program
Students spend the first portion of their time in ICC’s Professional Culinary Arts with Externship program learning the skills used by professional chefs through a Total Immersion, hands-on curriculum designed by culinary masters and ICC deans Jacques Pépin, André Soltner and Alain Sailhac. The in-class training, separated into four levels of technique, gives students the skills they will need to have success throughout the program and into their careers.
Levels 1 and 2: Learning Culinary Techniques and Building Culinary Foundations
Before class, students set up their individual workstations with tools from their knife kit, included in tuition that they will be using for the day’s lesson. Once class starts, students gather around their chef-instructors’ workstation to watch him or her complete a live demonstration of the day’s lesson. Returning to their stations, students then work in pairs to recreate the dishes with the equipment and techniques demonstrated by the instructor. Chef-instructors grade each student’s daily performance on their ability to successfully replicate each dish.
After class, students are expected to prepare for the next day of training by copying down the recipes from their ICC textbook and reviewing the tools and techniques they’ll use in the day to come. This daily process is repeated throughout the program to give students a breadth of knowledge covering many cooking techniques and skills that will carry on into their careers. To ensure that students are learning the newest culinary trends and techniques, ICC also has an education department dedicated to creating and updating a curriculum unique to ICC that evolves with changes in the food industry.
Levels 3 and 4: High-Volume Cooking and Skills for Consistency and Refinement
While the first two levels of the program focus mainly on culinary techniques, Levels 3 and 4 focus on teaching high volume cooking, charcuterie, scaling recipes, consistency, refinement and time management. During Level 3, students are actively practicing high-volume cooking by preparing family meal, food served to the entire ICC student body and faculty.
“ICC gives you the tools that prep you for that really big step in your life. It gives you an introduction to all the different things you’re going to have to do [in a professional kitchen] and gives you a great set of rules.” – Rob Anderson, Culinary Arts and Culinary Entrepreneurship graduate
During Level 4, students focus on consistency and refinement by repeating recipes, learn valuable skills in time management by preparing, cooking and plating a variety of dishes in time intervals. Some of the most important techniques will be learned in this lesson, which will be used throughout students’ professional careers.
“Every day I cook in my restaurants, I’m using the techniques that I learned at ICC. Every day. And I always will for the rest of my life.” –Bobby Flay, Culinary Arts graduate
Paid Culinary Arts Externship Training
After completing training in the kitchens of ICC, students have the exciting opportunity to work among the kitchen staff of a real restaurant, test kitchen or catering business in the required externship portion of the program. Each Professional Culinary Arts student works one-on-one with a member of ICC’s career services department to choose a placement for their externship that aligns with his or her career goals.
The search for externship placement often includes a trail—the culinary version of an interview in which students get the opportunity to experience the inner workings of a restaurant. During a trail, students are assigned a role in the kitchen, allowing them the chance to work on the line or help with food prep depending on the needs of the executive chef. Through this process, students get a hands-on view of the specific restaurant’s environment while meeting the kitchen staff and showcasing their own cooking abilities, providing a chance for both the student and the chef to evaluate the fit for externship placement.
“The reason why I chose ICC was the 6-month program that covers not only basics but also specialized techniques, which I liked.” – Soo-jung Choi, Culinary Arts graduate and international student
This 200-hour portion of the program allows students to gain professional experience and make invaluable connections within the culinary industry. Some recent, well-known culinary establishments where students have externed include Daniel, Saveur, The Nomad and Babbo. Students are evaluated throughout their externship by the executive chef at their restaurant of placement as part of their ICC program grade.
Support from Seasoned Chef-Instructors
ICC’s team of chef-instructors bring a depth of experience to share with culinary students each day in the kitchen. The student-to-teacher ratio is 12:1, meaning students get personal attention and direction while they’re completing each lesson. Our chef-instructors are more than experienced professionals, they’re educated teachers too! Beyond regular class time, workshops and tutoring are available for students to get the extra help they need to master techniques for success as professional chefs.
“School was very fun and I learned some valuable lessons from some great teachers.” – Joshua Skenes Culinary Arts graduate and executive chef of three Michelin-starred Saison in San Francisco, from Food & Wine
Successful completion of the Culinary Arts program also allows students to experience ICC’s graduation commencement ceremony held in New York City’s iconic Carnegie Hall. ICC students receive continuous career services support and become a part of the 15,000+ ICC alumni network that extends to all corners of the globe.
Flexible Culinary Program Options to Fit Your Schedule
Whether you’re interested in a traditional daytime program or an alternative track that fits a busy schedule, ICC offers a variety of schedules to help you achieve your goals no matter what. Professional Culinary Arts with Externship is offered in a six-month, five-days a week daytime schedule and a nine or 14-month evening schedule so you can keep your day job, while training for your dream job. The daytime classes meet five times a week, while classes in the evening program meet two to three nights a week.
“There was something about just the feeling I got when I walked into this building—everybody was so welcoming and knowledgeable. This is where I need to be, and I’ll perfect my skills in nine months. It’s pretty incredible.” – Danielle Marullo, Culinary Arts graduate
Learn More About Culinary School at ICC
To explore the culinary school options that can make your dreams of becoming a chef a reality, request more information by filling out the form on this page or contact us to answer any questions you have about ICC’s professional programs.