Learn to Cook in Carolina: NC Culinary Schools

Find Culinary Programs

North Carolina culinary schools will surprise you with their diversity and respectability. The list below reflects the demand for well-trained food service professionals. Consider some of the popular locations: Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, Wilmington, Winston-Salem, and the Outer Banks. Each of these locations draws large numbers of new residents as well as vacationers annually. Perhaps this is why various areas of the state are consistently voted among America’s “Most Livable” communities.

Explore the list below, you’ll find good culinary programs from one end of the state to the other. Types of schools vary as well.

  • If you’re looking for an affordable, accelerated career-driven program focus on the community and technical colleges in North Carolina.
  • If you’re set on a 4-year program look at the state universities and 4-year colleges on the list. Remember, most 4-year culinary degrees will have a management focus to them.

Dive Into the Carolina Food Scene

Wherever you enroll be prepared to explore with abandon the surrounding culinary scene. Immerse yourself in well-reviewed local restaurants, discover new and exciting dishes, up and coming chefs, learn about the area’s seasonal ingredients and nuances of flavor you can’t find anywhere else. Recognize that economic growth in an area also is a good indication of a thriving food service industry. Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and Asheville all are excellent proving grounds for new chefs AND offer a bounty of excellent restaurants, from top-notch fine-dining to “best of” Mom and Pop barbeque pits. Barbeque, by the way, is a NC specialty and secret sauce recipes are kept under lock and key.

Sink your teeth into these popular NC food and wine events—perfect settings for sampling a ton of local fare, meeting the chefs, pairing wine and even watching or participating in recipe and chef competitions:

  • Charlotte Shout Culinary Arts Experience
  • The Barbeque Festival, Lexington
  • National Gingerbread House Competition, Asheville
  • Celebrate NC Wines
  • Carolina Chocolate Festival, Morehead City
  • Outer Banks Taste of the Beach

Finding a Chef’s Job in North Carolina

A thriving economy really is key to your chances at a good chef’s job out of college. Use your school internships as a stepping stone directly to a job or a means of making solid industry connections in Raleigh or Charlotte or Asheville. Stay in touch with professional chefs you meet and work under. At this point, though, ensure the school to which you ultimately apply is armed with the equipment and services to propel you smoothly into a first job with lots of avenues for growth:

  • Chef internships/apprenticeships with local or national restaurants/hotels
  • Professional chef/instructors
  • Well-equipped professional teaching kitchens
  • Career guidance and job placement
  • Student-run restaurant catering to a discerning public

Add more career cred to your resume with a membership in a local chapter of a professional association, such as the American Culinary Federation. You’ll find chapters in Wilmington, Raleigh, Beaufort, and Charlotte, as well as a few others. Why a professional association? Gain access to valuable and usually private job lists, meet likeminded professionals, get in on educational events and industry conferences.

What Can You Earn Cooking in Carolina?

Salaries vary widely among chefs for a few key factors:

  • Your professional experience
  • Your education – many job postings look for applicants with a culinary arts education/degree
  • Type of kitchen or establishment (restaurant, hotel, spa, resort, institution, research, etc.)
  • Reputation

Average salary for a sous chef in Raleigh is $40,000+. Executive chefs make much more and line cooks/station chefs make much less.

List of North Carolina Culinary and Cooking Schools

International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes of Charlotte is one of over 30 AI culinary programs in the country, designed in association with The Food Network. This popular and competitive cooking program is designed to put professionally driven student chefs into good careers. Programs of study include: Bachelors Culinary Arts Management, and Associates Culinary Arts.

International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes of Raleigh-Durham offers up one of the most popular culinary school programs around in affiliation with The Food Network. Learn the fundamentals of Western cuisine, international cuisines and traditional cooking methods and techniques. Degrees include: Bachelors Culinary Arts Management, and Associates Culinary Arts.

Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte is one of the only liberal arts colleges that confers a culinary arts degree. This school has been delivering world-respected programs longer than most. The Charlotte campus is one of 4 others located in various regions of the country. Noted chef alumni and spokesperson—Emeril Lagasse.

North Carolina State Colleges, Community and Technical Colleges Offering Culinary, Restaurant Management, and/or Hospitality Degrees

  • Alamance Community College – Graham
  • Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College - Asheville
  • Appalachian State University – Boone
  • Cape Fear Community College – Wilmington
  • Central Piedmont Community College – Charlotte
  • East Carolina University - Greenville
  • Lenoir Community College – Kinston
  • Meredith College – Raleigh
  • North Carolina Central University – Durham
  • Sandhills Community College – Pinehurst
  • Strayer University – various (ONLINE)
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro – Greensboro
  • Wake Technical Community College – Raleigh
  • Western Carolina University – Cullowhee
  • Wilkes Community College – Wilkesboro


ACF Accredited Programs


Alamance Community College
1247 Jimmie Kerr Rd.,
Graham, NC 27253-8597

Phone: (336) 506-4274
Fax: (336) 578-1987
Contact: Brian T. Bailey, CCC - bailey@alamancecc.edu


  • AAS Degree in Culinary Technology
  • Culinary Specialist Certificate

Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
340 Victoria Rd.,
Asheville, NC 28801-4816

Phone: (828) 398-7900


  • Associate Degree in Baking and Pastry
  • Associate Degree in Culinary Technology

Central Piedmont Community College
1325 E 7th St.,
Charlotte, NC 28204-2019

Phone: (704) 330-6723
Fax: (704) 330-6581

Richard R. Kugelmann, CEC, CCA, AAC - kugelmar@faytechcc.edu


  • Associate Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Associate Degree in Culinary Arts

Guilford Technical College
601 E Main St.,
Jamestown, NC 27282-969

Phone: (336) 334-4822 x 50253
Fax: (336) 819-2013
Contact: Albert W.A. Schmid, CEC, CCE, CCA - awschmid@gtcc.edu


  • AAS Degree in Culinary Technology

Wake Technical College
9101 Fayetteville Rd.,
Raleigh, NC 27603-5696

Phone: (919) 866-5990 x 50253
Fax: (919) 662-3529
Contact: J. Jeffrey Hadley - jjhadley@waketech.edu


  • AAS Degree in Baking and Pastry
  • AAS Degree in Culinary Technology

Certificate and Job Training Programs

Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps
3170 Wayah Rd.,
Franklin, NC 28734-8120

Phone: (828) 524-4446
Contact: kent.gibson@usda.gov

Kittrell Job Corps Center
PO Box 278,
Kittrell, NC 27544-0278

Phone: (252) 438-9131
Contact: Christopher Powell - powell.christopher@jobcorps.org

TCK Providence Kitchen
3655 Reed St.,
Winston Salem, NC 27107-5428

Phone: (336) 784-7369
Contact:Jeff Bacon, Cec, Cce - jbacon@secondharvest.org

Find A Local Culinary School With Open Eligibility Today!