While locations like LA and New York get most of the hype, other top-class destinations for culinary study are sometimes overlooked. Ohio is a prime example of that, as it is as rich in food culture as it is in talented chefs. With 17 fully accredited institutions, it’s a hotspot for exceptional cooking schools, many of which are based in or around the city of Cleveland. The National Restaurant Association estimates over $20.5 billion in yearly revenue in Ohio comes from the culinary industry, and it currently employs more than 570,000 people.
The Buckeye state has some of the top institutes in the nation, only outweighed by New York and California due to the sheer amount of options there. Pricewise, you can expect to pay less in Ohio than in places like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City. But housing and other monthly expenses are not necessarily cheap, especially in Cleveland.
Ohio Has a Rich, European-Influenced Cuisine
Ohio’s cuisine is influenced heavily by Polish and German traditions. There are also some Swiss and English dishes commonly found in local restaurants. Kielbasa and sauerkraut are often combined with other foods to create meals that are a delicious mix of European and American flavors. However, most schools emphasize learning a diverse mixture of skills and recipes, and instruct on how to make dishes from all over the world.
A few typical Cleveland chef favorites are beef cheek pierogis with crème fraiche, “The Polish boy” (sausage topped with fries and hot sauce), and pork chops. Cleveland is also known for its chili, while Columbus is known for its pork dishes.
Ohio is host to a slew of major food festivals. Annual gatherings include Taste of Cincinnati, Annual Taste of Cleveland, National Hamburger Festival, and more. These are great places for showing off your cooking skills if permitted, and networking important contacts in the field.
Ohio Chefs and Culinary Workers Are Making More Each Year
According to EducationNews.org, culinary professionals are in high demand in the Buckeye state. Average salaries for those employed in the culinary industry are increasing every year in response to the shortage. In 2006, the mean salary for culinary professionals was $23,707 per year. In 2010, it was $24,648 per year, and in 2016, it was $27,843 per year.
Considering the rapid incline for salaries of Ohio culinary professionals, it’s an excellent state to start a career in. Many schools offer job placement programs after graduation. These virtually guarantee positions in restaurants that will help develop students’ skills through real world work. Starting pay may be less than average for fresh graduates, but that’s the norm for the field.
Top Overall Culinary Arts Institutes in the Buckeye State
The list below includes some of the best overall culinary institutes in the state of Ohio. Each has hands-on training and high quality instruction from chefs with many years of experience. Choose one of these state of the art, modern institutions and you’re sure to get a well-rounded culinary education.
Columbus State Community College – Columbus, Ohio
- AAS Degree Baking and Pastry (Exemplary)
- AAS Degree in Chef Apprenticeship (Exemplary)
- AAS Degree in Food Services and Restaurant Management (Exemplary)
Accredited by the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission, Columbus State Community College’s Culinary Apprenticeship major is considered by many to be one of the best in the Midwest. It is a cooperative of the American Culinary Federation Columbus Chapter. It consists of six semesters or 4,000 hours of on the job training as an apprentice to a qualified chef in an approved full service restaurant, club or hotel. It also includes theory-related classroom instruction from highly experienced chefs and qualified culinary instructors.
Participants work with a professional chef for real world, hands-on experience in a fast paced environment. Selected applicants must pass an interview with prospective employers, but work placement is not guaranteed to be offered upon completion of the program. Participants attend classes one day per week toward the Associate of Applied Science Degree, and spend the rest of their time getting firsthand experience at their place of work. The program lasts approximately two years. Upon completion of the program, graduates will at the very least be Certified Culinarians through the ACF.
Baking and Pastry students have the opportunity to learn the art of making all kinds of baked goods, desserts, and more from highly experienced pastry chefs. They’ll be prepared for a successful career working in pastry shops, bakeries, coffee shops, or restaurants. CSCC prepares students to become qualified and highly skilled chefs, bakery and pastry chefs, or managers.
Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College – Cincinnati, Ohio
The Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College has the largest cooperative work and study program in the nation among two-year institutions. Students receive training in a real world restaurant setting and are given ample opportunity to hone their skills to the best of their abilities.
The program is AFC accredited, with two programs being granted exemplary status, AAB Degree in Culinary Arts and AAB in Pastry Arts. MCI also offers a certificate program in brewing sales and marketing, and a certificate in Culinary Arts.
Facilities include a bakery kitchen, garde manger kitchen, pastry kitchen, international kitchen, and a fully functioning butcher shop and fish shop. Training of specific skills pertaining to each setting is given in rich detail. There is also a demonstration studio with a full kitchen incorporated in an auditorium seating classroom. Demonstrations may be broadcast on live radio or television channels.
The Summit, the on-campus restaurant allows students to gain firsthand experience with gourmet food. The restaurant serves a variety of dishes made by student chefs from a dynamic menu. An emphasis is placed on the aesthetics of food and presenting each dish with an artistic touch.
Representative cooperative and internship sites for culinary arts majors include:
- Marriott Hotels
- Coldstream Country Club
- The Kroger Co.
- Jag’s Steak and Seafood
- Jeff Ruby’s Culinary Entertainment
- Great American Ballpark
- Whole Foods
Pastry students spend time honing skills at Bakery Hill where they learn to prepare and bake items of all kinds. Students learn technical skills and techniques related to baking and pastry, including yeast dough preparation, cold desserts, specialty cakes, and pastry centerpieces.
Cooperative and internship sites include:
- Hilton Netherland Plaza
- The Kroger Company
- Servatii Pastry Shops
- Gigi’s Cupcakes
Hocking Technical College – Nelsonville, Ohio
- AAB Degree in Culinary Arts
- AAB Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts
- Certificate in Baking
- Certificate in Cooking
Aside from the two master chefs on staff, the remaining instructors are either certified chefs or certified culinary educators. The main lecture hall has a complete kitchen situated front and center. Students can view chef instructors’ techniques in real time during each lecture. Facilities also include a pastry kitchen, a full service butcher shop, and a main commissary kitchen area where students get hands-on experience preparing food for the cafeteria and dining services, as well as catering functions.
The vast majority of instruction is hands-on. Students can expect to be learning actively, on their feet throughout the day and getting valuable practice with a simulated restaurant kitchen experience. In place of a traditional internship, students work in a campus-owned restaurant called Rhapsody located in the historic downtown district. Students work in the kitchen to get real world experience at a respected local restaurant.
The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Ohio Cincinnati
Facilities are state of the art and include all equipment necessary to duplicate a real kitchen restaurant environment. Curriculum includes menu development, problem solving, communication skills, teamwork, and more.
Students can enjoy the campus’ location in Cincinnati, which is near to several places of interest. The Art Institute has a national culinary program with locations in several other states. Its world renowned reputation precedes it for arts education of all kinds. This is a top notch, exemplary program that any employer will appreciate seeing an AAS degree from.
Owens Community College – Perrysburg, Ohio
- AAS Degree in Culinary Arts
- Certificate in Baking and Pastry
- Certificate in Culinary Arts
At Owens Community College, the culinary arts program incorporates a mix of management, menu design and nutrition courses as well as fundamental, intermediate and advanced culinary courses. Accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation, the culinary arts program prepares students for successful positions at retail bakeries, fine dining restaurants and hotels, upscale pastry and bake shops, commercial baking and more.
The Terrace View Café, a student run restaurant on campus, allows students to put their skills to use in a real setting. All students must complete a 320-hour co-operative at the Terrace View Café as a required part of the program. Curriculum also includes sanitary food handling practices, ethics within the hospitality industry, and identifying hospitality industry and career opportunities.
Baking and Pastry students learn a range of baking methods and patisserie skills including bread varieties, classical pastry production, unique cake decorating and fine patisserie design, advanced decorating techniques for complex pastry preparation, and creation of showpieces. Baking and pastry students also study intermediate culinary skills.
The culinary program at Owens Community College limits each class to a ratio of 8-12 students to one faculty instructor (10 max for baking courses) with additional lab assistants. All program faculty for technical course material must meet the following three minimum qualifications:
- American Culinary Federation (ACF) Certified as Sous Chef (CSC) level or higher
- Meet the basic faculty requirements of all Owens Community College professors
- Professional preparation relevant to their area of expertise and documented experience
Faculty chefs include: William Powell, MA, CCC – Certified Chef de Cuisine, Gretchen Fayerweather, MA, CEC – Certified Executive Chef, and Kelly Wolfe, BA, CEPC – Certified Executive Pastry Chef.
A hands-on approach with limited class sizes for more personal instruction and a brand new, 14,000 square foot state of the art kitchen facility make Owens Community College an outstanding choice for a well-rounded culinary education.
Zane State College – Zanesville, Ohio
A Career and Employment Services Office offers academic and vocational assistance to all students. According to Zane State’s official graduation report, 84% of program graduates are currently employed with a culinary arts position. Program cooperation, patronage, and partnership includes Kellogg Foods, Mattingly Foods and the New Bakery.
In the very first semester, participants learn the basics of food preparation and food safety procedures. Course material includes topics in classical cuisine and desserts, baking, garde manger and meat technology. Instruction also covers foodservice and small business management strategy, effective cost control, and table service standards. Two unique culinary field experiences occur, once in the summer and once in the final semester.
Operating since 1969, Zane State College offers extensive training in culinary arts that is ACF recognized and offers students a hands-on education from real kitchen experience.
Cuyahoga Community College – Cleveland, Ohio
- AAB Degree in Culinary Arts
- Certificate in Professional Culinarian/Cook
- Certificate in Personal Chef
- Certificate in Baking/Pastry Arts
The Culinary Arts program is broken up into three main focuses, hands-on experience through active learning in a kitchen setting, management and supervision skills, and an academic approach that uses a traditional classroom for teaching the fundamentals of the industry. Kitchen based coursework includes preparation, cooking techniques of various kinds, garde-manger, baking, and contemporary and classical cooking. Management material includes menu planning and strategy, supervision basics, purchasing, budgeting, and HR training. Classroom material includes customer service, critical thinking, decision making, and effective communication.
Upon completion of the program, students should be able to:
- Meet industry standards for sanitation
- Apply HR skills along with their duties as a chef and lead staff effectively
- Use advanced cooking techniques in a busy and high pressure environment
- Plan and develop their own menus
- Achieve an entry-level position in the field
The Culinary Arts program at the Hospitality Management Center of Excellence at Tri-C offers high quality, fully accredited education that provides students with a well-rounded scope of the culinary field and everything it entails.