Culinary Scholarships for Future Chefs
Even though for many of us cooking is just a hobby, some of our peers or friends out there are probably considering as we speak going to culinary school. This might sound like piece of cake to the untrained eye, but for those of you that seriously considered this option, culinary school will seem like a huge investment. Since a culinary program can cost as much as $50,000, you probably have considered the option of financial assistance. A scholarship is your safest and cost-effective choice for becoming a top chef without graduating with debt. Here are some of the leading scholarship programs out there that might help you become the next top chefs:
The James Beard foundation administers and runs scholarship programs, awarding a total of $3.5 million in scholarships since it was funded, in 1991. Information on the grants available for the current year is posted on April 1st. and applications for scholarships need to be sent by May 15th. Both cash awards and tuition wavers are available for students and those wanting to change their current careers.
Chefs4Students is yet another program offering grants and scholarships, but is only available for those already enrolled culinary schools or institutes. To be considered, one needs to have a strong academic record and study for at least 6 weeks in this domain prior to applying for the grant. For more information, make sure you participate in the website’s forum.
Best Teen Chef, now in its twelfth year, is a series of local cook-offs competitions for high school students where the best teen chef can win a $5,000 scholarship for a culinary school. To enter, one must cook a two-course meal for the jury, being judged on technique, taste, safety, cleanliness and overall presentation. The meal has been already set by the judges: shrimp cocktail, sautéed chicken breast with rice pilaf and sautéed broccoli. Follow the Best Teen Chef section for forms and videos from the previous competitions.
Les Dames d’ Escoffier International conducts fundraising programs for awarding scholarships at various levels. The LDEI offers scholarships at a chapter level, for schools in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Miami or San Francisco. The list of chapters is updated frequently, so make sure you check their website often to see what the nearest chapter is for you.
The Women Chefs & Restaurateurs association offers numerous scholarships and internship opportunities each year at specific schools or institutes part of the WCR. Applications start in January and end early April. If you are a woman with a passion for cooking, check out their website for more information on the grant program. The recipients for the 2011 grants have been already awarded, but you surely have a chance for next year. The resource section on the Women Chef’s website is a very useful resource in finding even more grants and scholarships in the hospitality industry.
The Culinary Arts Program is another cool competition where you can win a scholarship for the best culinary schools in the country. To enter the competition, you would have to attend a C-CAP partner high school, older than 21 years and must be enrolled in a GED program. If you are good at cooking French classics, this might be your chance to get into a culinary school without breaking the wallet.
The American Academy of Chefs, a society of the American Culinary Federation is offering scholarships to professional chefs, as well as high school and college students to compete at the ACF conferences. For a full list of requirements for the scholarship application, head to the AAC page.
The Restaurant School at the Walnut Hill College awards a $4,000 scholarship to pay one awesome cook’s tuition for studying a 2 or 4-year program. If you want to study Culinary or Pastry Arts and can maintain a satisfactory academic record (2.5 GPA average) in the first year, you might be one of the lucky winners of such a scholarship. A great reason for attending Walnut Hill’s School is that students will be able to participate in a tuition-paid Tour de France lasting one week.
Established in 1990, the Clark E. DeHaven Scholarship Trust provides scholarships to passionate students who are set on a career in the food industry. Set to honor the association’s first executive chef, Clark E. DeHaven, the scholarship is awarded on June 1st to those submitting their application no later than February 15. For more information regarding the criteria applied to the scholarship, visit their website.
Although this is not actually meant only for culinary students, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation supports 1,400 students each year the chance to study for free. After several selection procedures, 250 finalists will give a personal interview for a chance to become either a National Scholar with a $20,000 award or a Regional Scholar receiving a scholarship of $10,000. Awards have been given to culinary students too so the chance is all yours. If you’re currently in high-school, check out the foundation’s website for all the required documentation and eligibility criteria.
The National Italian American Foundation Scholarship Program offers scholarships to highly competitive high-school students that have at least one ancestor that immigrated to the USA from Italy. If you have Italian roots and also a GPA of at least 3.5, check out the NIAF website for more information on their available scholarships.
Tip: For inspiration on foods, technique and flavors, be sure to check out food shows such as Top Chef or Top Chef: Masters, a leading competition featuring some of American’s best chefs.
No matter which scholarship you choose, make sure you apply early to have enough time to get prepared. Ask for recommendation letters well in advance and take some time to write your essay or scholarship application. Don’t wait until the last moment to send the documents – preparing early will surely leave room for the unexpected! Good luck, future chefs!
Wishing you all the best
Luke Tyler is a marketer for EnjoyPrepaid.com, a leading calling card company offering affordable calls to travelers and students abroad.