The Best of the Best in Culinary Training

No matter your profession, becoming the best often means training with the best. This is especially true for aspiring chefs. Hands-on training and experience are key to a young cook’s success, and will help determine future job opportunities for years to come. Here’s how to distinguish the top-ranking schools:

The Program

The kitchen is the real star of any culinary career or training program. A chef is no one without it. Top schools will have the best kitchens with the best equipment. Some will differentiate with labs for baking, butchering and wine making. An extension of the kitchen should be a student-run restaurant or bakery. Top schools will have fully functional operations that are open to the public and that offer students training opportunities in the front and back of the house. If there is no restaurant, look for other events that are open to the public, such as cooking demonstrations or gourmet-dinner nights. The best schools will emphasize training by providing these opportunities and requiring a high number of cooking hours. Training may also be offered in the form of internships or apprenticeships in the community. Many schools will have established partnerships with leading businesses to give students training and experience.

Faculty at top schools will have experience as chefs or other restaurant leaders. They should also be certified and should represent a variety of culinary traditions. Small class sizes will give students the benefit of learning the most from these instructors.
Vanilla Orange Pudding.

The Results

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and top culinary schools will produce graduates with strong job prospects. You should look for high graduation and employment rates as a measure of a school’s ranking. Note the types of jobs that graduates get and track their career paths. If students are finding long-term opportunities with good salaries, it’s a good indication of the quality of the training program. Top schools with also have a large alumni network – which will be useful to students and recent graduates for networking to find jobs or opportunities for internships.

Our Top 10

There are no comprehensive ranking guides for culinary schools, but a number of surveys have been conducted to get the opinions of students and industry leaders on who make up the cream of the crop in culinary training.
Top 10.

Here’s a list of our top 10, which frequently also make it onto other leading surveys:

JNA Institute of Culinary Arts
1212 S. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA, 19146
Professional Cooking
Culinary Arts/Restaurant Management
ACCSCT accredited

Johnson & Wales University
Campuses in Providence, RI; North Miami, FL; Denver, CO; and Charlotte, NC
Culinary Arts
Culinary Nutrition
Baking & Pastry Arts
Culinary Arts & Food Service Management
Baking & Pastry Arts & Food Service Management
Food Marketing
Food Service Entrepreneurship
Hotel and Lodging Management
International Hotel and Tourism Management
Restaurant, Food and Beverage Management
Sports Entertainment Event Management
Travel-Tourism and Hospitality Management
Accreditations by location

Kendall College
900 N. North Branch St.
Chicago, IL 60622
Culinary Arts
Baking and Pastry
Hotel Management
Event Management
HLC accredited

L’Academie de Cuisine
16006 Industrial Drive
Gaithersburg, MD 20877
Culinary Arts
ACCET accredited

Le Cordon Bleu
35 locations across five continents
Culinary Arts
Patisserie and Baking
Culinary Management
Hospitality and Restaurant Management
International Hotel Management
International Restaurant Management
Accreditations by location

New England Culinary Institute
56 College Street
Montpelier, VT 05602
877- 223-6324
Culinary Arts
Baking and Pastry Arts
Hospitality and Restaurant Management
ACCSC accredited

Tante Marie’s Cooking School
271 Francisco Street
San Francisco, CA 94133-2010
Culinary Course
Pastry Course
No accreditation

The Art Institutes
46 locations and an online division
Culinary Arts
Baking and Pastry
The Art of Cuisine
Culinary Management
Food and Beverage Management
Accreditations by location

The Culinary Institute of America
Campuses in San Antonio, TX; Hyde Park, NY; and St. Helena, CA
Culinary Arts
Baking and Pastry
ACCSC & MSCHE accredited

International Culinary Center
462 Broadway
New York, NY 10013-2618
Culinary Arts
Pastry Arts
Front of House Training
The Art of International Bread Baking
ACCSCT accredited

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10 Responses to “The Best of the Best in Culinary Training”

  1. henry Says:

    I was wondering which school to choose from CIA or gordon bleu I know CIA is very famous because almost all their cheffs work in food network

  2. Maria Teresa Timponi de Moura Says:

    I[m looking for a course in London.

  3. Jessica Hamilton Says:


    I found your website really helpful in knowing what questions to ask when I visit culinary schools this summer, but I am really only interested in vegan cuisine and was wondering if I could get some feedback on the best vegetarian/vegan culinary academies. I am looking for legitimate institutes that are accredited and will offer me a useful degree for actually getting employed. I am having some difficulty finding this type of institute, but I am very excited to pursue a career in this area! Could you help? Thank you for your time!

    Jessi Hamilton

  4. elizabeth Says:

    New England Culinary Institute was big on vegetarian and vegan in ’92 when I attended. It has served me well.

  5. Carol Says:

    Hello,my name is carol and I am an international student in United States’ univity from China. I want to learn cuisine in Unitade States in free time , and be a kitchener in the future . I want to konw that which training colleges or university I can choose. > < Please help me.

  6. KG Says:


  7. BIMBO Says:

    i want cia or gordon ble8

  8. allen Says:

    im looking for online classes, cert im a line cook and will move up i want paper under my belt and on line seems to be the best option, i have servsafe cpr/first aid aed already

  9. keeanna Says:

    Hi I was wondering if you’ve heard of LCI (Louisiana Culinary Institute) located in Baton Rouge Louisiana. . If you have could you give some advice on if its a good accredited school in education in savory food.

  10. Kiley Says:

    I was wanting to know what was required for the CIA to get in. Also how old you have to be, I was thinking about graduating high school early and go to culinary school and then music. I have a lot I want to do. And my number one dream is to open a restaurant.

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