A History of Culinary Arts


Authored by Jayant Row in Food and Cooking 
Published on 05-14-2009

Cooking has always been seen as a chore or to some as a hobby. It is a highly priced skill and requires a passion for cooking and deep knowledge of the ingredients and processes that go into it. Food is one of the things that have always been part of everyone’s daily life, and a lot of families maintain their own tradition of recipes that are passed down from generations.

The art of cooking is also called a culinary art. In fact the word ‘culinary’ is something that has a connection to kitchens or cooking. Culinary art is now acknowledged as a separate educational discipline and cooking schools and even universities are quite the norm.

The first cooking school in America was started in Boston in the 1800’s, though this does not predate the formalization of this education in European universities, especially in France. This also led to the first cook book written by Fannie Merrit Farmer in 1896. Even today, this book is in print and has remained a sort of primer for all those starting a new home. It is used as a reference in many cooking schools.

Culinary Arts got a further boost when newspapers and magazines started devoting pages of their publications to recipes and kitchen hints. Nowadays of course you can find any amount of printed glossy literature devoted exclusively to the culinary arts. The history of culinary arts developed further when the first televised programs by James Beard were shown in 1946. Regular classes were held on the art of American cooking and Julia Childs took culinary art further by introducing French cuisine to the American public in the 1960’s. This was mainly through radio which had at the time a much wider reach than television.

Culinary Arts got a further boost when the Culinary Institute of America was established in the prestigious Yale University. It now has its own campus in California. There are similar dedicated universities in England and France and all these institutes vie with each other to give the best education to budding chefs and culinarians.

Before the establishment of these training schools, the teaching of the culinary arts was done by individual professionals who had earned a reputation for themselves with exhibitions of their own prowess in the establishments they worked for. These apprenticeships were much sought after and considered very tough to go through, as quite often it involved a lot of physical hardships and long hours over the cooking fires. For an apprentice to branch out on his own was almost unheard of, and such new chefs had to depend on the patronage of clients to further their own careers.

Culinary arts now include cuisines from all over the world as international borders are no more a hindrance to the spread of different types of food. You can look for an Indian curry or a Chinese chop suey or a Japanese sushi anywhere in the world. You will almost certainly find the food that you hanker for if you look hard enough. The sales of cookbooks of different cuisines all over the world run into millions of dollars every year.


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