For kashrut-observant Jews seeking a fully-immersive professional culinary school education, options have historically been very limited. There are programs in Israel, as well as a handful of recreational kosher cooking courses. But for the most part, those serious about seeking a strong foundation in the culinary arts have had little choice beyond enrolling in a conventional culinary school, knowing that―among many other potential obstacles to a full experience― they'll be unable to taste what they cook.
The Only Kosher Culinary School in North America
But when the groundbreaking Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA) opened its doors, that changed. Located in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, New York―and area that's home to a thriving Orthodox Jewish community―the school generated tremendous interest not just locally, but internationally; to date, program graduates have hailed from Australia, Panama, Canada, Israel, and the UK, among other countries.
The Career Tracks
The Center currently offers two career-oriented tracks, a 200-hour Culinary Arts program, and a 152-hour Pastry Arts program. Catering and Management training tracks are also in the works. Graduates of either program are awarded a Certificate in Baking and Pastry Arts; those who successfully complete the Food Safety and Sanitation course and related exams gain additional ServSafe Food Protection Manager and New York City Food Handler certifications.
A six-week externship in a professional kitchen or, on occasion, in another arena of the culinary world, rounds out the program. Though the externship is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged as a vital way to develop on-the-job experience and proficiency.
On the Syllabus
The 50 class culinary course covers classical technique, international cuisine, plating and presentation, and specialty topics including charcuterie, smoking, pickling, and sous vide. All of this is done with a unique focus on the challenges of the kosher kitchen, such as cooking for Shabbat and Yom Tov or adapting classic pastry or sauce recipes to create pareve versions.
Enrollment is open to men and women ages 16 and up. There are no prerequisites or degree requirements. An interview is required for admission; this may take place in person or over the phone.
Admission to the career programs is rolling, however, each professional program accepts only 12 students per course, and enrollment closes once course capacity is reached. The CKCA, therefore, recommends early application to ensure that students aren't locked out of the program schedule they'd prefer.
Courses are offered year-round at CKCA's Brooklyn headquarters. During the summer, courses are also offered at a satellite location on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Job Placement Assistance
The Center is also committed to aiding students with job placement after graduation and works toward cultivating relationships with chefs, restaurateurs, and others in the kosher foodservice arena who may be able to provide employment opportunities. To that end, the Center launched a website, KosherCareers.com, which serves as a portal for connecting job seekers and employers via job and resume listings, a blog, and kosher company profiles.
200-hour Career Culinary Arts Program: $6,500
152-hour Career Pastry Arts Program: $5,500
Mail: CKCA, 1407 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11230