The Top 10 Culinary Schools in America

Culinary School StudentsIf you’ve decided to funnel that love of food into a cooking career, or growing up watching disney’s Ratatouille has piqued your interest in a culinary education, then you might be trying to make up your mind which culinary school to attend. After all, chefs make a pretty decent salary, according to

Be aware, however, that it’s not all fun and flan in the culinary world. Rather, most chefs put in years of training as line cooks and sous-chefs under sometimes-tyrannical head chefs. If you’re still looking, here is our list of the top 10 culinary schools in America.

1. Le Cordon Bleu

The granddaddy of them all, Le Cordon Bleu started in France back in 1895. Famous graduates include Julia Child and Giada De Laurentiis.  Today, you no longer have to go to France to graduate from Le Cordon Blue, as the esteemed institution has locations throughout the world, including 16 schools throughout the United States. Classes are taught by Master Chefs and award-winning chefs schooled in the art of French cooking and other international culinary methods.

2. Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America―known as the CIA in culinary circles―was founded in 1946. Not just a cooking school, the CIA is a college where students can receive associate and bachelor’s degrees in Culinary Arts, Culinary Science, Baking and Pastry Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts Management, and Culinary Arts Management. The institute has three campuses in the U.S. and one in Singapore. The CIA is one of the most esteemed cooking schools in the U.S.

3. Johnson & Wales

Johnson & Wales is located in Providence, Rhode Island, with campuses in Denver, Charlotte, and North Miami. This culinary college offers associate and bachelor’s degrees similar to those offered by the Culinary Institute of America, with the addition of Culinary Nutrition and Food Service Entrepreneurship. While Emeril Lagasse may be the college’s most famous alumni, many other graduates have gone on to win the coveted James Beard award and other accolades.

4. Kendall College

Chicago is home to Kendall College, which offers degrees and certificates in Culinary Arts, as well as Hospitality and Business. Kendall’s campus features 12 teaching kitchens, as well as an on-site restaurant. The college’s two campus restaurants are certified “green” restaurants, and the school maintains a sustainability garden where students grow their own produce for use in their cooking, teaching them the basics of sustainability and the food-to-table ethos. Kendall has many James Beard award winners among its alumni.

5. The International Culinary Center

Originally founded as The French Culinary Institute in 1984, the International Culinary Center (ICC)  has locations in both New York City and Campbell, California, as well as culinary arts programs in Italy and Spain. The school has advisory committees comprised of restaurant chefs and owners to ensure that its curriculum stays up-to-date. The ICC’s dean list is a Who’s Who of cooking, including: Jacques Pépin, Alain Sailhac, Alan Richman, and Emily Luchetti. Programs include Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts, as well as Restaurant Management, Cake Design, and Bread Baking.

6. The Institute of Culinary Education

New York City is also the location of the Institute of Culinary Education, a four-time winner of the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Awards of Excellence for Culinary Schools. The school offers eight to 13-month training programs in Culinary Management, Hospitality Management, Pastry & Baking, and Culinary Arts. ICE boasts that 82% of graduates who want a culinary or hospitality job, get one.

7. New England Culinary Institute

The New England Culinary Institute (NECI) enrolls less than 300 students a year, with a faculty of nearly 50. It’s smaller size is by design, and each of its students also participates in an internship in an industry during their time at the school. The school operates NECI on Main, a restaurant where students learn every facet of the culinary industry, as well as La Brioche Bakery and Café. NECI’s location in Vermont means students are able to interact closely with local cheese makers, farmers, and other local food growers and providers.

8. The Arizona Culinary Institute

Aspiring chefs and restaurant managers looking to go somewhere warm will appreciate the Arizona Culinary Institute, located in Scottsdale. The school offers a diploma in culinary arts, choosing to focus on a single, “well-balanced”, eight-month intensive program. Classes include Basic Culinary Arts, Saucier and Meat Fabrication, Basic Baking, Restaurant Operations, and Advanced Cuisine, which is hands-on experience in the schools Du Jour public restaurant.

9. L’Academie de Cuisine

If you’re looking to attend a cooking school in the nation’s capital, look no further than L’Academie, which was founded by Chef Francois Dionot in 1976. For those looking to pursue a career in the culinary arts, L’Academie offers two one-year training programs: the Culinary Arts Program and the Pastry Arts Program. The school also offers recreational cooking classes for people who simply love to cook, but don’t plan to make a career out of it.

10.  Stratford University School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management

While Stratford University is not solely dedicated to the culinary arts, it does have a School offering a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Management, as well as associate degrees in Advanced Culinary Arts and Baking and Pastry Arts, as well as a diploma program in Advanced Culinary Arts.  The university is located in Baltimore, with locations throughout Virginia.

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