Georgia Cooking Schools
The relaxed food tradition in Georgia is certainly able to stand on its own against any region’s cuisine, but the modern culinary environment in the state promotes a progressive understanding of food that departs from some longstanding southern traditions. For student chefs, that means the state is full of educational opportunities at cooking schools, universities and community colleges.
Shrimp and Grits is a Georgia dish most closely aligned with the bountiful shrimp waters off the coasts of cities like Savannah. Seafood stews and other ocean dishes have become national treasures for savvy foodies who recognize Georgia’s unique coastal cuisine. But BBQ is equally as famous in a state that features sub-regional preparations that coax unique flavors from beef and pork.
The agricultural presence in the state boasts strong poultry, dairy and vegetable sectors that provide Georgia chefs with plenty of fresh ingredients to plate. Pecans and peanuts are perfect canvases for accomplished confectioners who lace them with salty caramel and chocolate.
Atlanta is a sprawling urban outpost that supports diverse culinary experimentation and a wide range of ethnic influences. Food runs the gamut from down-home comfort food to Spanish tapas and nouvelle French food. Soul food was born of the South, and it is proudly featured on the Georgia food landscape. Greens and Black-eyed Peas are served alongside slow-cooked Barbecue and grits for a classic southern experience, but Georgia chefs also test their creativity with progressive interpretations of modern dishes.
Wherever you land as a culinary student, it is important to become vested in the local food culture. In Georgia, tap larger cities for the widest range of food offerings, but don’t forget regional food events that allow chefs to push the envelope of inspired cuisine.
Georgia Food Festivals For Culinary Learning
Culinary school extends beyond the four walls of your student kitchen, so if you know what’s good for you, you’ll find ways to add to your education by soaking up some of Georgia’s food culture. Get to know the best restaurants and chefs in your area, so that you have a handle on where you might fit in. Dissect local trends and identify regional ingredients that make the area’s cuisine unique. Whatever food knowledge you absorb during school, finds its way into your emerging culinary point of view, so checking out the local food scene is an education in itself.
Local festivals and regional food events provide opportunities to interact with local chefs and other like-minded foodies. Volunteering in a festival kitchen is a fun way to learn from local pros firsthand, and lots of festivals now include student categories in cooking throwdowns and other competitions.
- Vidalia Onion Festival – For 35 years, this locale food gathering has celebrated the local culinary celebrity known as the Vidalia Onion. People come from far and wide to indulge in this springtime delicacy, as prepared by standout Georgia chefs. Students gain valuable insight into a staple crop that helps define regional cuisine. Chef competitions offer venues for rising stars and students to showcase their culinary prowess with creative Vidalia creations.
- Celebrity Chef Tour
- Taste of Atlanta – The taste showcases the best local creations in the wine, beer, food and cocktail categories. Food ranges across the spectrum from Thai and other international cuisine, to local favorites like BBQ. Barcraft and other beverage throwdowns are put forth alongside culinary competitions for a complete foodie experience that will not leave guests hungry OR thirsty.
- International Dairy-Deli-Bake Expo
Professional Culinary Associations in Georgia
Remember that as a student you may qualify for nice discounts on student memberships to regional professional associations. Use these organizations to gain discounted entrance to national and regional conferences, and members-only seminars and educational programs. Networking with like-minded industry professionals leads to a cross-pollination of culinary knowledge, and future employment opportunities for passionate students.
- Georgia Chef’s Association – The Atlanta chapter of the American Culinary Federation was honored as the organizations best chapter of 2008
- Georgia Restaurant Association
- Georgia Hotel and Lodging Association
Compete for a Chef Job in Georgia
Getting a culinary education is about mastering classical kitchen techniques, and applying them in a skillful and consistent manner. Whatever school you choose should have the tools in place to facilitate your theoretical and practical growth as a chef.
- Career assistance and job placement success
- Internships/externships and apprenticeships with industry leaders
- Student-run kitchens that are equipped with the essential tools of the trade
- Chef/instructors with strong ties to the local industry
- Public restaurants that place students in real life culinary situations
- Noted Alumni
Be on the lookout for special programs and partnerships with the private sector. For instance, If you attend either the Atlanta Collaborative Kitchen or Gwinnett Technical College then you may be a candidate for an internship with Publix supermarkets.
Whatever school you choose, keep your eye on your ultimate goal of gainful employment. Chef salaries vary greatly depending on location, type of restaurant, economic climate, and your personal level of education and achievement. But experienced chefs can expect to make around $30-50,000 at many properties. The sky is the limit for skilled chefs who develop their brand, or their own restaurant, into recognizable earners.
Georgia Cooking and Culinary Arts Schools
International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes of Atlanta is one of the most prestigious programs in the country. The Atlanta campus is just one of 32 locations strategically placed in metro-areas around the U.S. This particular campus also offers a diverse number of degrees, ranging from diplomas and certificates to full on Culinary Arts degree. The curriculum emphasizes international cuisine and teaching all the skills you’ll need to hit the ground running in a top kitchen. This program puts you to work in state-of-the-art teaching kitchens almost immediately, and graduates you to real life restaurant work in a student run restaurant. Programs include: Bachelors in Culinary Arts Management, Bachelors in Food and Beverage Management, Associate’s of Culinary Arts, Associate’s of Wine, Spirit and Beverage Management, Diploma Baking and Pastry, and Diploma Culinary Skills.
Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Academy – Atlanta - is based on the same curriculum as the world-famous Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France. For serious would-be chefs, this is world-class culinary training. Classic French cuisine and solid kitchen foundations, like knife handling and recipe analysis, help students practice cranking out food in a brigade system kitchen hierarchy. Degree programs include: Associate’s Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts and Certificate Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie and Baking.
The Atlanta Collaborative Kitchen – Atlanta – A unique program that is designed to provide culinary training to financially disadvantaged students who are eager to become cooks, chefs and pastry chefs. TACK instruction is made possible through partnerships with Open Hand Atlanta and the Atlanta Food Bank.
Georgia Colleges Offering Culinary, Restaurant Management, and/or Hospitality Degrees
- Albany Technical Institute – Albany – Culinary Arts Diploma programs are shorter in length compared to the Culinary Arts Degree offered at this school. A combination of theory and practical application of skills is presented in both programs, but the degree requires students to exhibit proficiency in reading, math, and algebra through testing and/or coursework. The school offers a unique certificate for Culinary Nutrition Assistants.
- Athens Technical College – Culinary Arts students choose from a wide range of programs for entry-level kitchen training. Prep cook, food production, and other certificates get you in the door of any kitchen needing trained staff. The Applied Science Associate’s Degree requires deeper understanding of the theory of cooking, as well as proficiency in core subjects. Hospitality and restaurant management is also taught alongside the kitchen skills certificate programs.
- Berry College - Mt Berry
- Chattahoochee Technical College – Marietta – Whether you are new to the industry, or simply seeking greater knowledge in the field that employs you, Chattahoochee has applicable programs in their Culinary Institute. Safety, hospitality, and front of the house management skills are taught in a curriculum that emphasizes the fundamentals.
- Clark Atlanta University – Atlanta
- Coastal Georgia Community College – Brunswick
- East Central Technical Institute – Fitzgerald
- Floyd College – Rome
- Fort Valley State University - Ft Valley
- Georgia Southern University – Statesboro
- Georgia State University School of Hospitality Administration – Atlanta – Advanced studies are not offered at every school, so if you intend to get a degree at the Bachelor’s or Master’s level, this program warrants a close look. Just like any other four-year student, graduates must reach proficiency in core curriculum areas like math, reading, and communication. Business and management principles are emphasized to prepare graduates for low and mid-level management work right out of the blocks.
- Gwinnett Technical Institute - Lawrenceville
- Life University – Marietta
- Morris Brown College – Atlanta
- North Metro Technical Institute – Acworth
- Savannah Technical College – The Culinary Institute of Savannah is the name of the cooking school that promises to prepare graduates to gain certification as culinarians, by the American Culinary Federation. Core competency in basic food production practices is paired with hands on training with all manner of kitchen tools and equipment.
- University of Georgia – Athens
- West Georgia Technical Institute - Lagrange