Following in the footsteps of genius gourmets like Wolfgang Puck and Anthony Bourdain make take you to the best culinary schools in America. Although not always required, culinary school is an indispensable tool for young chefs to get professional experience running restaurant operations. Food lovers heading to culinary schools will find a flavorful job market with faster-than-average growth of 10 percent. According to the BLS, the 14,100 positions created for chefs by 2026 will have median annual pay of $43,180. Chef’s Blade also reported that Denver, San Francisco, Washington DC, Bethesda, and Portland are the top cities for culinary grads. Here are seven of the best culinary schools in America where you can stir a delicious résumé that employers gobble up.
Culinary Institute of America
Opened in 1946 by Frances Roth and Katherine Angell, the Culinary Institute of America is the country’s oldest private, nonprofit food-centric college endowed for $109.7 million under Chairman Jon L. Luther to educate 2,918 chefs in Hyde Park, New York. The MSCHE-accredited culinary school offers eight academic programs, including an AOS in Culinary Arts, BPS in Culinary Science, and AOS in Pastry Arts. Requiring a 15-week externship, the Culinary Institute of America operates the award-winning Apple Pie Bakery Café and American Bounty Restaurant.
Johnson & Wales University
Enrolling 16,095 Wildcats total, Johnson & Wales University is private, NEASC-accredited career institute established in 1914 that’s endowed for $263.8 million under Chancellor John Bowen with campuses in Providence, Charlotte, Miami, and Denver. The famed College of Culinary Arts allows JWU undergrads to complete 13 academic programs, such as the A.S. in Baking & Pastry Arts, B.S. in Culinary Nutrition, or B.S. in Food Service Management. Johnson & Wales University takes students from top-notch learning labs into on-campus internships at Bistro 61.
New England Culinary Institute
Headed by Executive Chef Jean-Louis Gerin, the New England Culinary Institute is a selective nonprofit, ACCSC-accredited vocational school founded in June 1980 that’s grown to enroll 500 trainees at a 10:1 student-faculty ratio in Montpelier, Vermont. Pioneering the Farm to Table revolution, NECI grants 12 academic programs like the B.A. in Culinary Arts, A.O.S. in Food & Beverage Business Management, and B.A. in Professional Baking. The New England Culinary Institute produces chefs in the kitchens of NECI on Main, La Brioche, and National Life Cafeteria.
Culinary Institute LeNôtre
Ranked #3 among the best culinary schools in America on Niche, the Culinary Institute LeNôtre is a private, French-inspired chef training provider with ACCSC accreditation since 1998 to teach 397 students in Houston. Led by Chef Olivier Burgos, the Institute offers seven academic degrees, including an A.A.S. in Culinary Arts, A.A.S. in Baking & Pastry Arts, and A.A.S. in Hospitality & Restaurant Management. The Culinary Institute LeNôtre’s 38,000-square-foot facility includes Le Bistro, an OpenTable Diners’ Choice Award winner, for practicing European delights.
L’Academie de Cuisine
Granted the IACP School of the Year Award, L’Academie de Cuisine was created by Francois Dionot in 1976 as a private, ACCET-accredited career institute with an A+ BBB rating to serve 161 undergrads at its 14,000-square-foot Washington DC facility in Gaithersburg. L’Academie offers 50-week Culinary Arts Daytime, 62-week Culinary Arts Evening, and 50-week Pastry Arts Daytime programs. Instruction at L’Academie de Cuisine is supplemented with the United States’ longest 26-week paid apprenticeships at Petit Louis, Altamarea Group, and others.
Kendall College of Culinary Arts
Owned by Laureate International Universities, Kendall College of Culinary Arts is a private, for-profit HLC-accredited cooking school ranked #1 by Chicago’s Michelin Guide chefs that attracts 1,711 undergrads from 70+ countries under president Paul Lussow. For an average class size of 17, Kendall confers five academic degrees, such as the A.A.S. in Baking and Pastry, B.A. in Culinary Arts, and B.B.A. in Culinary Entrepreneurship. Kendall College has 12 professional-grade kitchens along with a fine dining restaurant, outdoor bread oven, and sustainable garden.
Paul Smith’s College
Occupying a 14,200-acre campus in New York’s Adirondacks, Paul Smith’s College is a private, nonprofit MSCHE-accredited school that’s budgeting $36.6 million yearly to enroll 1,051 Bobcats. Partnering with the C-CAP Competition, the Culinary Management Department has seven academic majors like the A.A.S. in Culinary Arts, B.P.S. in Baking and Pastry Arts, and B.P.S. in Food Service and Beverage Management. Learning among award-winning chefs, including Bruno Neveu, accrues 800+ industry hours in the Adirondack Palm and St. Regis Café.
Remember that the United States certainly isn’t the only country housing supreme culinary schools. For example, Le Cordon Bleu in Paris has an illustrious 120-year history of providing its Grand Diplôme in Cuisine or Pâtisserie. Six thousand miles away, the Ozeki Cooking School in Japan’s Chubu region is notably led by Chef Shuji in the 100-year-old Yamakyu Restaurant. Expanding your search globally from the above best culinary schools in America could introduce you to new cuisines and broaden your palette for crafting dishes worthy of a James Beard Award.