Cook your way to the top with culinary scholarships

The typical college scholarship has a few entry requirements -- an application, an essay, maybe even an interview. But to win one of the culinary scholarships to Le Cordon Bleu, one of the world's premiere cooking schools, you'll have to cook to earn your tuition.

Le Cordon Bleu gives away more than $250,000 each year in culinary scholarships to would-be chefs who demonstrate their cooking skills for the school's judges. Culinary scholarships make sense in a profession that's all about how you can perform in the kitchen.

Culinary scholarships are important because the cost of culinary school can be steep -- anywhere from a few thousand dollars a year at a community college to $45,000 a year at a private university. Fortunately, many different organizations offer culinary scholarships for students who are interested in working in the culinary arts.

State restaurant associations are a good place to start your search for culinary scholarships. Many, like the Colorado Restaurant Association, offer culinary scholarships for students looking for training in food service and hospitality. The American Hotel and Lodging Education Foundation is also a great source for culinary scholarships. They give out culinary scholarships every three months, reaching more than 370 students a year who are looking to work in the hospitality industry. The American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences offers the Jewell L. Taylor award, giving out a $5,000 scholarship to a student working in the field each year.

Some famous chefs offer culinary scholarships in their name, such as Chicago-based chef Charlie Trotter, who offers culinary scholarships through the Charlie Trotter Culinary Education Foundation, The Chefs4Students foundation offers working chefs a way to give back to students, giving out 10 grants of $1,000 each to students enrolled in a culinary institute. Students who want to master the art of baking can also win a full scholarship to the American Institute of Baking's 16-week Baking Science and Technology course.

A good culinary education can be important for those seeking to make it as a top chef. Competition for jobs can be fierce, and turnover in the industry is high. Still, the outlook for those who want to work in a restaurant's kitchen is good, with job openings aplenty for the next decade. For students who hope to land in a premiere restaurant, culinary scholarships are a great way to get there.
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