For those with culinary dreams of running bakeries or restaurants, or of writing menus and preparing Michelin-star food, the idea of traditional college classes and degrees can be a bit hard to swallow.
Even for those who have already decided on attending culinary school, choosing a school with the right program, reputation, and industry connections can often seem overwhelming.
The 20 culinary schools on this list are considered to be some of the best in the nation. They are located all over the United States. Some, like those in the famed Le Cordon Bleu network, are well-known and established training grounds for some of the food industry’s leading talent.
Others, like the relatively new San Francisco Cooking School, have burst onto the culinary scene with programs designed to prepare aspiring chefs and bakers to work in the industry in as little time as possible.
But despite their many differences, each school on this list prides itself on its mission to protect and train the future of culinary arts, both in the United States and abroad.
1Institute of Culinary Education
New York, New York
Founded in 1975 by Peter Kump, the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) has become the largest culinary school in New York City. The Institute, which is often considered one of the best in the world, credits to its success its “Global Curriculum, ” dedicated chef-instructors, clear focus, and entrepreneurial spirit.
The curriculum (which also happens to include the largest wine education program in the country) is intensive, though most students complete their programs in less than one year.
ICE has been named a finalist and winner in the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ Awards of Excellence in 2002, 2003, 2006, 2008, and 2015. Many of its alumni have become recognized industry leaders, and are regularly nominated or win top industry awards such as the James Beard Award, Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs in America, ” and Dessert Professionals‘ “Top Ten Pastry Chefs.”
ICE offers diplomas in areas such as Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, Hospitality Management, and Pastry and Baking. Most programs last between 6 and 13 months.
2Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park
Hyde Park, New York
The oldest culinary school in America is also oftentimes considered to be the very best. Its main campus is located in Hyde Park, New York, though it also has satellite campuses in San Antonio, Texas, St. Helena, California (which also appears on this list), and Singapore.
Started as a non-profit college, the Institute’s stated mission is to offer the best professional culinary education in the world. It boasts the largest staff of ACF Certified Master Chefs, and more than 300 companies actively recruit its graduates each year. In fact, its long list of successful alumni includes Charlie Palmer and Grant Achatz, among many others.
The Institute offers certificates, Associate, and Bachelor degrees in Culinary Arts, Culinary Science, and Baking and Pastry Arts. Many students choose to complete both an Associate and a Bachelor degree, though the Institute does require students complete the Associate before pursuing the Bachelor.