Houston Matters

Culinary schools can help aspiring chefs, but are they worth it?

An area chef and alum of the recently closed Art Institute of Houston’s culinary school shares his thoughts.

A man cooking food in a frying pan.
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The Bayou City's vibrant restaurant scene has built up over the years, in no small part, due to the rise of a generation of talented area chefs. Many of them have spent years in kitchens – and at schools – developing their craft.

Many Houston area chefs trained at The Art Institute of Houston's culinary school, which closed suddenly back in September.

Among the school's alumni is Chef Ryan Lachaine. He's the co-owner and executive chef of Riel, located on Fairview. The restaurant serves what Lachaine calls ‘globally inspired Gulf Coast cuisine.'

In the audio above, we ask Lachaine about the value of culinary school training. He says it was important for him, providing a place to learn the basics of professional cooking, but that it’s not for everyone, and can be expensive.

Plus, Lachaine notes the importance of gaining practical experience in professional kitchens, especially for a generation of aspiring chefs inspired by popular cooking shows on television that don’t give a full picture of the commitment required to pursue a career in the restaurant industry.