Sapana Chandra, Student, Rouxbe Online Culinary School

What made you choose your Rouxbe?

After doing a lot of research, I decided Rouxbe was the best choice for me. While there is a lot of free information available online, Rouxbe is comprehensive and taught me exactly what I needed to learn, helped me build a solid foundation, and saved me a lot of time in the process as I focused on what was most important.

What did you learn from Rouxbe?

I learned HOW to create recipes on my own. The formula. The science. And most importantly, the WHY. I learned how to develop flavor and taste. By the end, I had fallen in love with the process of cooking.

How did Rouxbe help your career?

Learning how to cook, without relying on recipes, may have been the most transformative part of my health journey. It’s not only empowered me in the kitchen, boosted my health, but also given me the confidence to launch a full-time career and build Real + Vibrant.

If your image of cooking school includes folks in tall white hats wielding knives and tongs in a hot kitchen, it may be time for a rethink.

Technology has tossed a disruptor bomb into the culinary classroom, transforming the cooking school experience and bringing the benefits of digital tech to anyone inspired to join the food world.

Traditional brick-and-mortar culinary schools involve commitments that can rival those of an academic institution: years of full-time study, with student loan debt to match. The average cost of culinary school runs from $30,000 to $50,000 for an associate's degree, and a BA can be more than double that.

Community college programs are more affordable, closer to $10,000 for basic training, but considering that a typical starting salary for a graduate of even an elite cooking school is $10 an hour, those sums can be insurmountable.

Enter online programs, which don’t require full instructor staffs, institutional kitchens and all the other overhead (think of the liability insurance alone, right?). Schools such as Rouxbe run closer to $1,000 for a program comparable to a first-year associate’s degree from a traditional school. The courses, usually video-heavy, can be accessed by thousands of students, and include real instructors (as in humans!) who monitor the progress of the students.

And because time equals money, another plus of online education is flexibility. Traditional culinary school means investing months, even years. The student must physically be in the classroom at the times the classes are held — a challenge for career-changers still in other fields or for a young person trying to juggle cooking school with working.

Online courses are there when you want them — days, nights, weekends. Most allow the student to consume the training at their own pace, adapted to their own learning style. Online courses also offer employers an economic way to provide professional development to existing staffs, including specialty training in topics such as plant-based cuisine.

Granted, learning to cook via online instruction may not have the romance of a hands-on course. But for anyone with eyes on the prize of a career in food, adding a laptop to their kitchen toolkit can be a savvy way to go.