As the home of fine dining, Europe attracts many budding international chefs, and a range of culinary arts programmes and levels are offered.
“Tante Marie Culinary Academy is the UK’s oldest independent cookery school and is now part-owned by [TV chef] Gordon Ramsey,” enthuses Andrew Maxwell. Based in Surrey, UK, the school has developed its own professional Tante Marie Cordon Bleu Diploma course, which also provides students with a level four Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts. “We have developed an international reputation for the quality of our training which is why the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality were interested in working with us to create the level four diploma this qualification is now being offered around the world.” Maxwell adds, “We offer an unsurpassed level of personal support and teacher: student ratios.”
Another culinary programme with celebrity links is Westminster Kingsway College (WKC), London, where alumni include Jamie Oliver. With over 100 years’ experience, informs Jeff Hyland, traditional and modern techniques are combined. “The college recognises the importance of traditional, classical craft skills, as well as contemporary groundbreaking research.”
WKC offers a range of courses. The International Culinary Diploma and International Patisserie Diploma are 24-week courses with small class sizes and continual kitchen assessment. Students have access to all the facilities and specialist kitchens for butchery, patisserie, baking and preparation. The Advanced International Chef Diploma is a 48-week course with culinary arts and patisserie pathways, providing an accredited City & Guilds level three qualification. “This course brings together classroom and kitchen tuition at the college and a monitored work placement, which accounts for 20 per cent of the assessment,” Hyland explains. Finally, international students can progress to BA honours degrees in culinary arts or hospitality management, where they develop a range of key business and culinary skills. There is also a foundation degree and a BA honours as a one-year top-up for students already holding a level five diploma.
Gary Hunter, Head of Culinary Arts and Hospitality at WKC, praises London as a culinary study destination. “London is a gastronomic capital and with our reputation for unique and inspirational teaching alongside the most envious industry contacts, WKC is the training destination of choice.”
The London School of Hospitality and Tourism at the University of West London (UWL) offers a suite of honours degrees including Culinary Arts Management, Food and Professional Cookery, and International Culinary Arts. “The school has achieved many accolades,” explains Lee Bryan. “The Academy of Culinary Arts, The Association Culinaire Francaise, The Craft Guild of Chefs and The Master Chefs of Great Britain all recognise the London School of Hospitality and Tourism as a centre of excellence, quality and innovation.
“Culinary arts and hospitality students train in one of the school’s two training restaurants Feast and Pillars, says Bryan. “Both restaurants are fitted with industry standard equipment, enabling students to learn in an environment that reflects real industry practice.” He adds that instructors come from backgrounds including five-star hotels and Michelin-star restaurants.
The Culinary Institute Switzerland opened earlier this year as a fusion of DCT’s European Culinary Centre and the César Ritz Culinary Arts Academy. Mark Reimer enthuses that students benefit from a focus on European cuisine, chefs with Michelin-star restaurant experience, new state-of-the-art facilities in Lucerne and Le Bouveret, and small, hands-on classes. The institute offers a progressive programme: the Swiss Advanced Certificate in Culinary Arts (year one); the Swiss Higher Diploma in Culinary Studies (year two); and the Bachelor of Culinary Arts (year three). A 22-week Certificate in Swiss Pastry and Chocolate Arts is also available. Courses incorporate a leadership programme to prepare future chefs for the management side of the business. Years one and two also include six-month paid internships at top restaurants and hotels.
Maxwell notes that Korea has always been a strong source country for Tante Marie. “We already partner with a number of Korean education agents and are always looking for new agents.” WKC’s main markets are Korea, China, India, Japan, Brazil and Mexico. “Working with agents means that the international students coming to WKC have access to local advice and guidance and pre-departure support,” Hyland attests. UWL has a recruitment strategy including exhibitions, school visits and relationships with agents. UWL has strong student numbers from South East Asia, and is looking to increase applicants from China, advises Bryan. Meanwhile, Latin America and Asia are reliable student sources for Culinary Institute Switzerland, which has an extensive agent network.
Lee Bryan at the University of West London advises alumni can be found at the Hilton chain and well- known hotels like the Savoy, while many are executives of leading catering companies. Mark Reimer at the Culinary Institute Switzerland says, “Many students will start after graduation as a commie [trainee] or chef de parti in a four- or five-star hotel; they go on to become assistant chef and chef after a few years’ experience.” Jeff Hyland at Westminster Kingsway College informs that their courses have an outstanding placement rate, with London’s hospitality industry eager to hire chefs of the future. Career paths can be diverse, informs Andrew Maxwell at Tante Marie Culinary Academy, noting that alumni include the editor of a UK food magazine, the manager of a leading Moroccan guesthouse, and a top cake decorator in Sydney.