Searching for a certified or accredited college or university for most disciplines is largely a matter of finding a school accredited by a recognized agency. Culinary institutes are a bit different. Because many culinary schools today are associated with or a part of a larger university system, they may be accredited by the licensing agency that approves the school as a whole as an institution issuing bachelor or associate degrees.
However, this type of general accreditation doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the particular division of the culinary institute within that university meets the highest standards for fine chefs and restaurant managers in the United States and around the world. The reason is obvious: no agency focusing on standard educational disciplines fully understands what is essential to a fine culinary learning experience. For that very reason, the American Culinary Federation developed its own accrediting system years ago. This accreditation is given specifically to culinary institutes to designate that they have met or exceeded the additional standards of the ACF for providing a high quality learning experience.
How Accreditation Works for Culinary Institutes
The American Culinary Institute Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFFAC) judges each culinary institute on several criteria, including:
Faculty and staff
Every culinary school wishing to be accredited must go through a process that evaluates all of these things before being approved to carry the ACFFAC seal.
To begin the process, a culinary institute must be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as an institute of higher education. When this has been achieved, the next step is a self-evaluation following the guidelines provided by the ACF. When this is submitted to the American Culinary Institute’s commission for accreditation, they will send a fact-finding team to carefully evaluate the institute to verify compliance to all of the requirements put forth. Any input from the public and graduates is also welcome. The school receives the ACFFAC seal of accreditation only when it has passed successfully through all of these phases.
It is important for culinary institutes to receive accreditation from the ACF. The ACF is the largest not-for-profit organization for chefs and restaurateurs in the United States. It was established as a way to set and maintain professional standards in the food preparation industry over seventy-five years ago. Only an organization of this type can accurately evaluate the quality and value of a culinary institute. Judging and evaluation by a group of peers is simply the only way to truly know that a culinary school is giving each student the best possible training, from pastries and desserts to kitchen management.
If you decide that a culinary institute is how you want to prepare for your future, be sure that you apply to ACFFAC accredited schools. Whether the school is a stand-alone culinary institution or is part of a larger college or university is not as important as knowing that it is approved not only by the U.S. Department of Education as a post-secondary school, but by the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission as well. If the school holds both of these certifications, you can be sure that you will be receiving an outstanding education at one of the best culinary institutes in the country.