Best 15 Culinary Schools in California in 2024

January 26, 2024 | Admin

Culinary Schools in California
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The California state is a hotbed in the culinary industry, with over 1.6 million restaurant jobs and food services. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate in this division is projected to grow by 6percent by 2029. That means there will be a high demand for high-quality dishes and at various dining venues. However, this can only be made possible through professional employees with quality academic credentials from accredited culinary schools. 

The Culinary schools generally equip students with knowledge such as knowing how to prepare new dishes, how to run the kitchen efficiently, food preparation techniques, and how to prepare international cuisines. 

Top 5 Culinary Schools in California

Rank School Location
1Long Beach City CollegeLong Beach, CAalifornia
2Bakersfield CollegeBakersfield, California
3Los-Angeles Trade-Tech CollegeLos Angeles, California
4The Culinary Academy at Contra Costa CollegeSan Pablo, California
5American River CollegeSacramento, California

What You Learn in Culinary School

The culinary program entails a lot than just learning how to become a professional chef. It offers well-rounded education – whether you need the skills as a professional chef or just a home-kitchen expert. Below are a few examples of what is taught in culinary schools:

  • Culinary studies provide you with a deep and comprehensive understanding of nutritional science with a greater understanding of the nutrients, sources of food, and body’s ability to process them.
  • In culinary school, you will learn budget and resource management. The skills include inventory control, cash-flow management, and short and long-term budgeting. 
  • Learn how food is closely related to culture. You will learn about different types of food available all-over-the-world and how different cultures prepare types of food. Interesting!
  • How to appreciate food as a form of art: you will learn how to combine aromas and tastes to create different feelings. In the same way, learn how to plate your dishes in an art form. Customers take pleasure in this a lot. 

Besides, proficiency in culinary skills will help you spread your horizons in many ways. For instance, instead of working in a local restaurant, you could secure an opportunity in any place around the world. Moreover, you can share your personal experience with people in the same field globally. 

Best 15 Culinary Schools in California


Long Beach City College

  • Long Beach, CAalifornia
  • Graduation Rate: 78%
  • Points: 93

The department of culinary arts at the Long Beach City College offers an intensive and practical experience through hands-on in the daily operation of a professional kitchen. The main focus of the course includes kitchen safety and sanitation, catering and budgeting, menu and planning, food preparation and production, international cuisines, and problem-solving skills in a dynamic culinary environment. The college offers associate degrees and certificate courses in culinary arts and baking and pastry to prepare students for higher-level education, advanced training, and a life-long professional career.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $1,472
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Bakersfield College

  • Bakersfield, California
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Points: 93

Bakersfield College offers culinary programs that integrate theoretical and practical courses that prepare students for the foodservice workforce. As a student, you attend lectures on basic cooking skills then subsequently apply those skills in a lab setting (the Renegade Room Restaurant). The culinary courses provide various techniques to students such as nutrition understanding, food production techniques, and management procedures. Here, you’re not only taught by some of the lecturers but, also pass through the best program to ensure you come out well.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $1,325
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Los-Angeles Trade-Tech College

  • Los Angeles, California
  • Graduation Rate: 27%
  • Points: 92

Founded in 1925, Los-Angeles Trade-Tech College is home to the oldest continually operating culinary school in the nation. It is a credited institution that offers culinary programs such as a Degree in Culinary Arts, a Degree in Professional Baking, and Restaurant Management. The programs are accredited by the America Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFFAC). Thus, if you graduate with an associate of arts (AA) degree, you can apply for the first level of the industrial certificate with the America Culinary Federation (ACF). This certificate gives you recognition and allows you to practice.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $1,220
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The Culinary Academy at Contra Costa College

  • San Pablo, California
  • Graduation Rate: 24%
  • Points: 92
Culinary students at Contra College

The Culinary Academy at Contra Costa College, you will learn the intricacies of many different cuisines and styles hand-on. With their wide training in culinary programs, you are not only guaranteed of becoming a top-notch chef but, also master all the skills you need to be successful. Their certificates and diploma course include Associate Degree in Baking and Pastry, Associate in Science Degree Culinary Arts, Certificate in Restaurant Management, and Certificate in Modern Food Preparation. There most common programs are certificates in both basic and advanced culinary arts and Associate in Science Degree. If you go through college, you can rest assured that you’ll come out all rounded. The Culinary Academy provides students with a well-rounded, practical training experiences in food service principles and baking fundamentals. The academy’s curriculum offers participants opportunities to practice skills and techniques in the culinary arts field through lab work, catering experiences, and a student operated fine dining restaurant. Please visit us on our social media and sites or contact us on: CulinaryArts@contracosta.edu

*Most 1st year student qualify for tuition waiver.

School Overview

Cost Per Unit: $46.00 (All California Community Colleges for California Residents)*
Tuition Fee Per Year: $1058*
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American River College

  • Sacramento, California
  • Graduation Rate: 24%
  • Points: 89

Located in Sacramento, American River College is one of the most respected culinary art schools in northern California. Their main focus in class is job skills and professional fine dining cuisine. The culinary programs offered include Degree and Certificate in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management and Certificate in Baking and Pastry. As a student, you get the opportunity to work in the kitchen of The Oak Café, the college’s 4-star restaurant. The experience prefers you for greater responsibilities in your career.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $1,288
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College of the Canyons

  • Santa Clarita, California
  • Graduation Rate: 19%
  • Points: 88

College of the Canyons is a modern, efficient, and accessible learning center where aspiring chefs and sommeliers learn all aspects of culinary art and wine studies. The college’s culinary programs include Associate Degree in Culinary Arts, Certificate in Advanced Culinary Arts, Certificates of Specialization in Wine Studies, Certificate of Specialization in Hospitality and Wine Services, and Certificate of Specialization in Baking and Pastry. Unlike other culinary schools, they have some of the best lectures. You can always get in touch with lecturers who also act as consults in case, you need to inquire about anything.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $1,104 per year
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Saddleback College

  • Viejo, California
  • Graduation Rate: 25%
  • Points: 87

Saddleback College is situated in Mission Viejo, CA. The institution does not only provided basic knowledge in culinary arts but also, prepares students for many contemporary employment opportunities. For instance, students are trained to become professional chefs, cooks, specialty in and ethnic restaurant operation, and food and beverage service. Programs include certificates in both basic and advanced culinary arts and Associate in Science Degree.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $1,330
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Diablo Valley College

  • Pleasant Hill, California
  • Graduation Rate: 23%
  • Points: 87

In Diablo Valley College, students have the opportunity to pursue culinary programs such as A.S. in Culinary Arts, A.S. in Baking and Pastry, and A.S in Restaurant Management. Certificate courses include Certificate in Culinary Arts and Certificate in Restaurant Management. Students pursuing baking and pastry have full access to a fully equipped professional kitchen, demonstration laboratory, and a retail pastry shop. On the other hand, the culinary art students have the ability to work in the Norseman Restaurant and the Express bar. With these amenities, you stand a chance of gaining serving and food preparation experience. With this in mind, you can go out there, open your restaurant or food outlet and succeed in what you are doing.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $1,323
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Institute of Technology, Clovis

  • Clovis, California
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Points: 86
Culinary students featured on graphic from the Institute of Technology Clovis

Culinary programs at the Institute of Technology are intended to prepare students for carrier opportunities within the foodservice industry. These include a Culinary Arts Professional Diploma and Baking and Pastry Specialist. Additionally, the institution offers state-of-the-art culinary training that helps students learn principles related to the preparation of pastry, American and international cuisine, catering, and Garde Manger. When you graduate from the Institute of Technology, you will have the opportunity to thrive in career paths such as executive chef, personal chef, dessert and catering specialist, and sous chef.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $18,912
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Culinary Institute of America

  • St. Helena, California
  • Graduation Rate: 76%
  • Points: 85

Located at Greystone, St. Helena, California, Culinary Institute of America is one of the most prestigious schools for food and wine education. The institution offers Associates Degrees in Culinary Arts or Baking and Pastry, a master’s degree in wine management, and certificate programs in wines and beverages. The university has a state-of-the-art learning environment. That includes the Bakery Café and Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant that allow students to gain professional experience. With notable alumni, such as chef Duff Goldman, Barton Seaver, and Wayne Giessen, it’s perhaps one of the best colleges in California.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $37,630
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Chaffey College

  • Rancho Cucamonga, California
  • Graduation Rate: 28%
  • Points: 85

Established in 1883, Chaffey College is the oldest institution of higher learning in California. Among other courses, Chaffey College offers incredible programs in culinary arts. These programs include Associate of Science in Culinary Arts, Associate of Science in Baking and Pastry, Certificates in baking and Patisseries, and Culinary Arts Certificates. Over the years, culinary students have gained successful full-time employment at places such as Universal Studios, Kaiser Permanente, Cheesecake Factory, Ontario Convention center, and more. Thanks to its vast partnership in the industry.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $9,000
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Orange Coast College

  • Costa Mesa, California
  • Graduation Rate: 32%
  • Points: 83

Orange Coast College offers both basic and advanced culinary programs. The programs include certificates in advanced baking and pastry, certificates in advanced culinary arts, a degree in culinary arts, and a degree in advanced culinary baking and pastry. All the advanced certificates are recognized by the America Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFFAC). The college provides students with an opportunity to access a modern learning environment that includes a state-of-the-art professional kitchen. At the kitchen, students work alongside culinary staff. Through this, they gain the necessary experience needed to face the world. As a matter of fact, once you pass through college, you don’t need any training again.

School Overview

Tuition (Basic Culinary Arts Certificate): $1,288 (resident tuition); $3,400 (tuition+fees)
Tuition (Advanced Culinary Arts Certificate): $1,104 (tuition); $2,984 (tuition+fees)
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Glendale Community College

  • Glendale, California
  • Graduation Rate: 23%
  • Points: 83

Since 1927, Glendale Community College has earned a reputation for academic excellence that meets the need of the changing world. Among the accredited programs offered by the institution include a certificate and an advanced degree in culinary arts. Through the recognition from America Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFFAC), the college provides you with an exciting variety of vocational, academic, and short-term course programs.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $2,040
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City College of San Francisco

  • San Francisco, California
  • Graduation Rate: 22%
  • Points: 81

Started in 1935, The City College of San Francisco has an impeccable credential in culinary studies. The school of culinary arts and hospitality offers you multiple programs depending on your goal. You can earn a degree or a certificate in Culinary Arts Management, Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Culinary and Service Skills Training, and Baking and Pastry. All the programs are accredited by the America Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFFAC). The Culinary Arts and Hospitality Studies Department’s job placement rate is approximately 85%.

*San Francisco Residents are eligible for Free Tuition

School Overview

Cost Per Unit: $46.00 (All California Community Colleges for California Residents)*
Cost for Culinary Arts Degree at CCSF: $3,220 for 4-5 semesters (70 units)*
Cost for Culinary Arts Certificate at CCSF: $1,518 for 3 semesters (33 units)*
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Columbia College

  • Sonora, California
  • Graduation Rate: 18%
  • Points: 76

Columbia College is located in Sonora, California. It is one of the few public colleges that offer culinary programs for every level of culinary professional. Skills taught at the school include fine dining room management, winemaking, advanced classical cuisine preparation, and beverage management. Moreover, the college equips students with the technical knowledge, and hands-on experience looked for by restaurants everywhere. As a student, you get an opportunity to complete internship opportunities before you join the workforce. That allows you to join the workforce when you are fully baked and ready to work. Their certificates are also recognized all over; hence you don’t need to worry.

School Overview

Tuition Fee Per Year: $19,320
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Ranking Methodology

These rankings were based on the analysis of software data from the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the respective university websites. The schools were ranked based on tuition amounts per year and graduation rate. Both factors were accorded a maximum of 50 points, and each school was assigned points based on how it compared with others on tuition cost per year and graduation rates. The points earned for both ranking factors were then added together to get each school’s total score. The school with the most points was ranked first in the list, with the rest following in descending order. In the case of a tie, the school with the higher graduation rate was ranked first.

We strive to provide current and accurate information to our readers. If you realize an error in the information provided, please feel free to contact us and let us know so we can make any necessary corrections.

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