Learn at a Top Culinary School in Pennsylvania
If you are in the market for a culinary education, you’ll find a few of the best culinary schools in the country right here between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. You might also choose from a long list of community colleges and technical colleges that offer chef’s training in the state. Bachelor’s Degrees in food related disciplines are also dispensed by four-year universities that serve industry sectors like nutrition and dietetics.
Pennsylvania’s food associations are well known. Cheesesteaks from Philly, chocolate from Hershey, and a snack-food industry that sends pretzels and potato chips across the country are prominent features of the state’s food signature. Pizzas and other ethnic contributions are dispensed in an authentic nod to PA’s immigrant culture. Inside the classroom-and beyond, culinary students are exposed to a higher-than-average food quotient that makes for a complete food education.
Chef students learn from the best working pros at school, but other venues offer unique opportunities to learn. Chef competitions are great ways for students to get a handle on local food trends and progressive cooking techniques. In PA, there are several:
- Philadelphia Magazine’s ‘Philly Cooks’ chef competition.
- Pennsylvania ‘Taste of Elegance’ competition
- Mid-Atlantic Young Chef Competition at York Technical Institute
- PA Preferred Culinary Connection Chef Competition promotes local agriculture
Your Education Includes Local PA Food Scene
Your culinary education must include a comprehensive exploration of the local food scene. Whether it’s Philly, Pittsburgh, Altoona, or Hershey – each locale has a unique perspective to contribute to your culinary pool of knowledge. Each has a certain local flavor that is defined by the creative and inventive food offerings put forth by the best local chefs.
Local food festivals offer high concentrations of culinary excellence. Regional fare that highlights prominent local ingredients is provided in tasting-sized portions perfect for discerning culinary students to dissect. Local “best of” restaurants, chefs, and dishes provide valuable insight for students striving to find a place in Pennsylvania’s culinary mix. Add these, and other food events to your curriculum:
- Good Taste! Pittsburgh Food and Cooking Expo
- Pittsburgh Wine Festival
- Pennsylvania Food and Beverage Show, York
- Taste of Pennsylvania Wine and Food Show, York
- Pittsburgh Farm to Table
Getting a Chef’s Job in Pennsylvania
Ultimately your career is a priority, so choose a cooking school armed with the tools and services you’ll need to transition smoothly to a good job, with growth potential:
- Internships/externships and apprenticeships in settings that provide training and access to full-time employment
- Well-equipped teaching kitchens that get your hand dirty with the same tools you’ll find in commercial production facilities
- Career guidance and job placement services, including job boards and industry connections
- Working chef/instructors who bring wide experiences to their campus kitchens
- Student-run restaurants that let you work while you learn, in fast-paced production roles like those you will play on the job.
Consider a student membership in a local chapter of a professional industry association. The popular American Culinary Federation has 12 chapters statewide, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh. Organizations like these give you access to local pros, who share your passion for the craft. Networking with seasoned industry veterans quickly elevates you to insider status-and that’s right where you want to be at job-hunting time.
Promoting culinary education is a commonly shared mission statement for food industry organizations, so getting involved early in your career often leads to scholarships and training-inside the network. Access to members-only seminars and conferences bolsters your understanding of the field, while private job postings and career fairs add further value to your membership.
Salaries for chefs and cooks fall along a wide of annual compensation-based on a few key factors. Experience, location, type of kitchen and general economic climate are important considerations, but there is no doubt that a decent education is paramount to your long-term success.
Target urban areas for the highest annual salaries and most progressive cuisine, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box, for employment that is off the beaten path. Successful culinary arts graduates work at hotels, resorts, casinos and in institutional settings like schools, health-care facilities and corporate centers.
List of Pennsylvania Cooking Schools
International Culinary School at the Art Institutes of Philadelphia is one of two AI culinary campuses in PA. These ultra-popular programs continue to turn out highly qualified chefs and pastry chefs. Students learn international cuisine, including classical French cooking. Experience in high-volume student-run restaurants and internships augment classroom instruction. Programs on the Philly campus: Bachelor’s Culinary Management, Associate’s Culinary Arts, Culinary Arts Diploma, and Baking and Pastry Diploma.
International Culinary School at the Art Institutes of Pittsburgh provides a world-class culinary education that conveys the skills and techniques you need to make your way up the kitchen ladder. Programs include: Bachelor’s Culinary Management, Bachelor’s Hotel and Restaurant Management, Associate’s Culinary Arts, and The Art of Cooking Diploma.
Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in Pittsburgh employs the Le Cordon Bleu culinary curriculum, similar coursework as that of the original Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, France. This is classical French training with some American influences included. Programs include: Associates Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts, Associates Le Cordon Bleu Patisserie and Baking, Associates Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality and Restaurant Management, and Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Skills Diploma.
The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia strives to set itself apart from other programs with its commitment to study-abroad opportunities. The campus is state of the art and includes multiple student-run kitchens/restaurants. These are intensive academic and practical programs that also impart a generous amount of business savvy. Degrees include: Bachelors Culinary Arts, Bachelors Restaurant Management, Bachelors Pastry Arts, and Bachelors Hotel Management.
JNA Institute of Culinary Arts in Philadelphia is a comprehensive career-oriented culinary school. Expect intensive, accelerated courses that fast-track graduates to good kitchen jobs. Programs: 30-week Professional Cooking and 60-week Culinary Arts/Restaurant Management.
Pennsylvania State Colleges, Community and Technical Colleges Offering Culinary, Restaurant Management, and/or Hospitality Degrees
- Bidwell Training Center Inc. – Pittsburgh Bradford School – Pittsburgh
- Bucks County Community College – Newtown
- Cedar Crest College – Allentown
- Central Pennsylvania College – Summerdale
- Cheyney University of Pennsylvania – Cheyney
- Community College of Allegheny County – Allegheny, Boyce, North Campus, South Campus – The Associate’s in Applied Science Degree requires completion of 67 credit hours of on-campus instruction, combined with a practical externship totaling a minimum of 300 hours worked. Four campus locations offer flexible scheduling for degree candidates.
- Community College of Philadelphia
- Delaware County Community College – Media
- Delaware Valley College – Doylestown
- Drexel University – Philadelphia
- East Stroudsburg University - East Stroudsburg
- Erie Business Center – Erie
- Gannon University – Erie
- Greater Altoona Career and Technology Center – Altoona
- Harrisburg Area Community College - Harrisburg
- Immaculata College – Immaculata
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania - Indiana
- Keystone College - La Plume
- Lancaster County Career and Technology Center - Willow Street
- Lebanon County Career and Technology Center – Lebanon
- Lehigh Carbon Community College – Schnecksville
- Luzerne County Community College – Nanticoke
- Marywood University – Scranton
- Mercyhurst College – Erie
- Messiah College – Grantham
- Montgomery County Community College - Blue Bell-Pottstown
- Newport Business Institute (ONLINE) - Lower Burrell
- Northampton County Area Community College – Bethlehem
- Pennsylvania College of Technology – Williamsport
- Pennsylvania Highlands Community College – Richland, Ebensburg, Huntington, Somerset – Culinary Arts students are inundated with relevant course material that emphasizes management and business principles alongside kitchen training. In addition to earning an Associate’s in Applied Science–Culinary Arts Degree, students are eligible for Certificates from the Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association. By passing proficiency exams in disciplines like sanitation or nutrition, students earn additional resume credentials from the NRA that also serve as qualifiers for scholarship eligibility from the organization.
- Pennsylvania State University - Hazleton-Monaca-Reading-University Park
- Pittsburgh Technical Institute – Pittsburgh
- Reading Area Community College – Reading
- Robert Morris College - Moon Township
- Saint Joseph’s University – Philadelphia
- Seton Hill University – Greensburg
- Westmoreland County Community College – Youngwood
- Widener University - Chester
- Yorktowne Business Institute - York