March 25, 2023

A Brief History of the Culinary Arts

The history of the culinary arts and institutional instruction in cooking is a very new enterprise. Throughout the ages, cooking has been taught at the apron strings for untold generations. The brewing of wine, ale and spirits, the distilling of medicines, baking of bread, butchering of livestock and the harvest of produce and cereal history of the culinary artscrops were essentially all overseen by the head mistress of the household.

In these times, all manner of handling and processing consumables was taught through immersion. The mother toted the daughter along as she worked, at times enlisting her aid in stirring, ladling and serving. Thus, teaching was done through a form of osmosis.

Formal Education

In the US, there came to be a form of tutelage that resembled apprenticeship. One cook taught another to cook, mostly in order to lighten his own considerable burden. The Boston Cooking School was one of the first institutions in America to place the instruction of the culinary arts in a classroom.

In 1877, Fannie Farmer began there as a student and progressed to the position of instructor and then principal. In 1896, Fannie published The Boston Cooking School Cookbook. In an age when measurements were very imprecise, Fannie attempted to set forth the importance of exact measurement in cooking. This is seen by many as the turning point in the history of the culinary arts.

From Cooking to Culinary Arts

The move from people regarding the preparation of food as a chore to seeing it as the culinary arts began with Fannie’s book. In the 1940’s, culinary arts schools began to gain a foothold. The innovation of the television set in 1946 brought James Beard to the airwaves.

history of the culinary artsAt the same time, he began teaching the art of cooking in his home, where the headquarters for the James Beard Foundation is still located today. The history of the culinary arts blossoms from there.

The Culinary Institute of America in 1946, Julia Childs in the 1960’s and the birth of the American Culinary Federation Educational Institute, whose apprenticeship program in 1976 (sponsored by a government grant) gave a fabulous advantage to aspiring cooks. Today we are the beneficiaries of the hard work and vision of these cornerstones of culinary history.

history of the culinary arts

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Culinary Arts, be sure to check out our featured Culinary Arts Schools. Online degrees are available as well, yes, even in the culinary arts!

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