The United States has a whole lotta land–but according to a handful of “best culinary school” ranking sites, the very-best and most-frequently-mentioned schools are all concentrated in the Northeast, making it a doable excursion for any long weekend.
Read on for a little more about what you can expect to see at each of these incredible culinary locations, and whether or not you’ll be able to get a peek at some of the behind-the-scenes magic.
Located in Hyde Park, New York, this gorgeous culinary school overlooks the Hudson, so you can get breathtaking views while you’re taking in breathtaking food smells. Pick one of the four on-campus restaurants for a meal–the American Bounty Restaurant, The Bocuse Restaurant, the Apple Pie Bakery Café or Ristorante Caterina de’ Medici. (Check their hours and availability here.)
At each of the restaurants, you’ll get to experience the students in both the front and back of the house, and you’ll get your pick of cuisines; more traditional American food at the American Bounty, French cuisine at Bocuse, Italian (duh) at Ristorante Caterina de’Medici, and some of the best desserts in the country at the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe.
Plus, you can drop in for a cooking class, taught by the world-class chefs who walk these hallowed halls.
Our Notable Alumni Pick: Anthony Bourdain.
Drop by the Institute of Culinary Education’s open house events to check out their New York, New York location and the oh-so-impressive culinary faculty and recent graduates. There’ll be live cooking demonstrations performed by the students and teachers–plus, you’ll get tours of the kitchens, classrooms, and cooking labs.
The Institute of Culinary Education has a handful of interesting programs; they have the traditional ones you’d expect, like Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts, and then they have a few others like Artisan Bread Baking and The Art of Cake Decorating. Stop in for a sample class and the hustle and bustle of the city!
Our Notable Alumni Pick: Gail Simmons.
Also in Manhattan, not far from the ICE, you can get a taste of the International Culinary Center. Known for their rapid-fire curriculum that can get you a degree in as little as 6 months, their tours are similarly jam-packed and designed to give you a once-over of the whole facility.
See the school and the kitchens–of course–but you’ll also be able to check out places like the library and the student lounge, featuring their “chef ‘wall of fame'”. The ICC Theater is another stop on the tour, and that’s where hardworking students and alumni can come for visiting chef demos.
There’s also an opportunity to sign up for a sample class–they describe this as a “test-drive” of their curriculum. Whether you’re interested in pastries, sauces, or other techniques, this is your chance to try it out.
End the tour with a Pastry Arts student-made dessert–honestly, what more could you ask for?
Our Notable Alumni Pick: Christina Tosi! (Exclamation point because she’s the favorite pastry chef of this particular blog writer.)
Johnson & Wales has an honest-to-god agenda on their website, so you can take a look at exactly what your tour schedule will look like.
This culinary extravaganza has an AM and a PM version, and both include dining experiences at their on-campus restaurants, along with tours of the Providence, RI campus, and cooking demonstrations by the faculty in the Cuisinart Center For Culinary Excellence.
Our Notable Alumni Pick: Emeril Lagasse
For your final stop on the tour, stop up to Montpelier, Vermont for a sweet little getaway (in more ways than one). On this tour, you can expect fairly similar treatment–you’ll get to meet faculty and current students, you’ll get to hear about the programs they offer and get whisked around the incredibly beautiful campus.
The New England Culinary Institute is also home to two restaurants, NECI on Main and La Brioche, where you can stop in for a bite either in the middle or at the end of your long academic day. Plus, you’ll get to see a demo from one of the instructors. No sample classes here–but I have a feeling you’ll have gotten your fill of cooking after your first four stops.
Our Notable Alumni Pick: Alton Brown