Top 10 Culinary Schools in California

Best Culinary Schools in California

Best Culinary – Baking & Pastry – Hospitality Schools in California

California offers one of the largest selections of culinary schools, baking schools and hospitality management programs in the country. If you are living in California and thinking of training to become a culinary chef, pastry chef or enter the field of restaurant management, there are a number of good choices for you to consider.

From the redwood forests to the Golden Gate Bridge, the state of California is a magnificent and exciting place to live. If you’re considering a career in the culinary arts, the Napa Valley and famous wine country offer a variety of culinary opportunity. Likewise, the booming tourism industry in California could mean that it is an ideal location for those interested in hospitality management.

I’ve listed several of the best California culinary institutes below, in addition to detailed information about Sacramento and San Francisco culinary schools. The schools listed below represent some of the best in the state of California based on accreditation, reputations and student reviews. The right one for you will depend on location, courses, tuition and scholarship availability.




Institute of Technology

Institute of Technology Modesto

The Institute of Technology has two campuses in California, Clovis and Modesto.  Since 2004, The Institute of Technology has been a provider of post-secondary education in the western United States.  Courses are designed to prepare students for an entry-level career. Students can learn by doing in this professional atmosphere.

Clovis Campus – 564 W. Herndon Ave – Clovis, also called called the “Gateway to the Sierras,” and within short driving distances are both the Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.

Modesto Campus – 5601 Stoddard Road – Modesto, in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley and the largest city and the seat of Stanislaus County




New School of Cooking

The New School of Cooking base their teaching on a combination of classical and modern cooking through contemporary concepts in a technique-based approach. Recipes are important but mastering skills involves hands-on learning. Their graduates can walk into any kitchen and feel right at home with the training they have received.

Pasadena Campus – 525 East Colorado Blvd – Pasadena, CA 91101

Culver City Campus – 8690 Washington Blvd – Culver City, CA 90232


San Francisco Cooking School

San Francisco Cooking School

The San Francisco Cooking School certificate programs are designed to maximize education value and propel you into your optimal new food career. Based in the culinary epicenter of San Francisco, your academic foundation will be supplemented with industry access. From connecting with food insiders through class field trips to in-class workshops taught by award-winning chefs, you’ll be exposed to a wide diversity of food careers that only a teaching campus like the Bay Area can provide.


San Francisco Campus – 690 Van Ness Avenue San Francisco, CA 94102


International Culinary Center

International Culinary Center Campbell

The International Culinary Center  offers diplomas in Professional Pastry Arts and Professional Culinary Arts. They are located at . Through their award-winning, Total Immersion curriculum, you’ll have the opportunity to learn the fundamentals from experienced chef-instructors who are going to expect the best from you.

Campbell Campus – 700 West Hamilton Ave. Campbell, CA


The Institute of Culinary Education

Institute of Culinary Education New York


After 42 years in New York City, in January 2018 the Institute of Culinary Education opened the doors to a second location in Los Angeles — an urban oasis for food and restaurant lovers and without a doubt one of the most exciting food cities in America. ICE Los Angeles features 38,000 square feet of educational and administrative space, with seven fully equipped teaching kitchens filled with cutting edge kitchen equipment.

Los Angeles Campus – 521 East Green Street  Pasadena, CA 91101


Culinary Institute of America at Graystone

The Culinary Institute of America

The Culinary Institute of America has a history that spans over 60 years, the Culinary Institute of America has been a leader in culinary education and training for decades.

St. Helena Campus – 2555 Main Street – St. Helena, CA 94574


American River College

American River College is among the most respected culinary arts programs in northern California. The program emphasizes business theory and hands on cooking. Classes focus on job skills and professional fine dining cuisine. The program can be completed in 18 months, including a semester working in the kitchen of The Oak Café, the college’s 4-star restaurant.

Sacramento Campus – 4700 College Oak Drive, Sacramento, Calif. 95841





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Culinary, Baking & Hospitality Career Outlook in California

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the outlook for jobs in the restaurant, food service and hospitality industries is good with projected growth rates. The table below demonstrates some important information you may want to consider when deciding if going to culinary school and then working in California is right for you.

Occupation Total Employment in California (2014) Average Salary in California (2014) Annual Hourly Wage
Bakers 27,900 $26,490 $12.73
Bartenders 57,450 $24,720 $11.89
Butchers & Meat Cutters 20,840 $29,740 $14.30
Chefs & Head Cooks 15,840 $45,340 $21.80
Cooks, Restaurant 126,360 $24,750 $11.90
Cooks, Fast Food 109,620 $20,060 $9.64
Cooks, Short Order 19,080 $23,950 $11.52
Food Service Managers 34,600 $52,010 $25.01
Hosts and Hostesses 43,200 $20,650 $9.93

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Culinary & Hospitality Industry in California Statistics

  • – the average culinary salary for job posting in California are 10% higher than the average nationwide in March of 2013.
  • BLS* – In May of 2014, there were 15,840 Chefs & Head Cooks in the state of California
  • BLS *- the average salary for these Chefs & Head Cooks was $45,340
  • BLS* – Average Hourly Wage for Chefs & Head Cooks is $21.80

The Restaurant Industry in California

The restaurant industry in California is a huge part of their economy and generate jobs for thousands of California residents plus important tax revenues to the state. For every dollar spent in California restaurants, an additional 61 cents is generated in the state’s economy.

According to

  • There were 68,144 eating and drinking places in California in 2014
  • $72.3 billion in restaurant sales projected 2015
  • Restaurants will account for 1,605,300 (10%) jobs in California in 2015
  • By 2025 the projections are 1,781,300 jobs, a 11% job growth