7 Best Culinary Programs in the State of Ohio

Best Culinary Programs in the State of Ohio

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

Columbus State Community College
Culinary Programs
  • 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.

Christopher’s, a student-run restaurant open to the public requires every student to participate, offering additional opportunities to gain valuable experience and showcase their culinary skills. Columbus State Community College is also a host of the “Taste the Future” food festival in which restaurants from all over the state compete annually, giving students the opportunity to observe and test a very wide variety of dishes.

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

Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
Culinary Programs
  • AAB Degree in Culinary Arts (Exemplary)
  • AAB in Pastry Arts (Exemplary)

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.

MCI regularly hosts teambuilding events for students to group together and compete. They gain teamwork skills while preparing a certain number of dishes within a three-hour time limit. Under the guidance of professional chefs, participants develop new skills and practice those they’ve already learned in a simulated restaurant kitchen situation.

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:

  • Bonbonerie
  • Hilton Netherland Plaza
  • The Kroger Company
  • Servatii Pastry Shops
  • Gigi’s Cupcakes
MCI prepares students for real world culinary work by focusing on practical cooking techniques and developing employable skills while still prioritizing aesthetics.

Hocking Technical College – Nelsonville, Ohio

Hocking Technical College
Culinary Programs
  • AAB Degree in Culinary Arts
  • AAB Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts
  • Certificate in Baking
  • Certificate in Cooking

Hocking Technical College emphasizes the artistic nature of cooking. Classes encourage students to make presentation a priority in addition to flavor. Students with aspirations to be a gourmet chef will appreciate the emphasis placed on the presentation of food.

Hocking has two international master chefs, one from Germany and one from the US. Each has their own unique style, which gives students two different perspectives on cooking. This allows students to discover which elements of each style they identify with more and helps them develop their own unique take on cooking various recipes.

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.

Students may join the Epicurean Club or one of The School of Hospitality’s TWO competition teams in order  to get involved outside of normal curriculum.

Hocking College offers a variety of on-campus housing options. It offers a complete college experience with student groups of all kinds. As one of the best culinary programs in the state of Ohio, Hocking College is an excellent place to get an AAB degree in Culinary Arts, AAB degree in Baking & Pastry, or a Certificate Cooking or Baking.

The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Ohio Cincinnati

The International Culinary School
Culinary Programs
  • AAS Degree in Culinary Arts (Exemplary)

The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Ohio offers an accredited AAS Degree in Culinary Arts with Exemplary status. From classical European and Asian to Latin and American regional dishes, students receive a comprehensive education in culinary arts. The program is designed to simulate real world settings in order to begin preparing students for the work setting from day one.[/su_column]

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.

The program includes baking and pastry skills, various cooking skills, and cold foods preparation. Students use a wide variety of kitchen techniques and learn how to use all equipment that may be found in the best restaurants and even industrial grade kitchens. Since a comprehensive approach is taken, students are required to put all skills learned into practice in real time. Though the program may be challenging for some, its exemplary status demonstrates its effectiveness in getting graduates ready for employment in the culinary industry.

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

Owens Community College
Culinary Programs
  • 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.

A 14,000 square foot kitchen facility was recently built to replace the former 3,700 square foot kitchen lab. The new facility features culinary labs, a cooking skills lab, a restaurant skills lab, a baking lab, a classroom and a 75-person capacity dining area with a demonstration station overlooking a tree-lined patio. The 14,000 sq ft center’s dining area is frequently host to special events and lunches, allowing students to gain hands-on experience creating menus, preparing food, and serving. The new kitchen center creates enough room to reduce the waiting list for prospective students, cutting wait time down significantly.

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

Zane State College
Culinary Programs
  • AAB Degree in Culinary Arts
The Culinary Arts program at Zane State College is fully accredited by the American Culinary Federation. It is designed to prepare students for mid-management level positions in the culinary industry. Basic and classical food preparation, baking, menu and facility planning, nutrition, sanitation, accounting, and management techniques are emphasized in course material. Course material includes Meat Technology, Professional Table Service, Financial Accounting, and Small Business Management. The program typically takes only two years to complete.

Executive chef instructor Marco Adornetto focuses on cultivating teamwork and developing the skills needed to work in kitchen settings anywhere. The annual Ethnic Food Fair gives students the opportunity to participate in a competition of cultural dishes from around the world. Students also gain hands-on experience in a modern kitchen lab with industrial grade equipment.[/su_column]

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

Cuyahoga Community College
Culinary Programs
  • AAB Degree in Culinary Arts
  • Certificate in Professional Culinarian/Cook
  • Certificate in Personal Chef
  • Certificate in Baking/Pastry Arts
Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) Culinary Arts Associate Degree program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACFEF) as well as the American Culinary Federation (ACF). Class sizes are kept limited to maximize time students can spend working directly under their chef instructor’s supervision. Faculty members are experienced in the culinary industry and provide in depth assistance based on their expertise in the field.

Facilities are state of the art and feature a real world atmosphere that simulates a restaurant kitchen. A studio kitchen is included for cooking demonstrations and even guest speakers. The campus includes two student run restaurants, Bistro 87 and Café 4250. Both are required parts of the program and offer students the opportunity to put their newly acquired skills to use for real customers. Students may also work with industry partners for additional hands-on experience.[/su_column]

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.

Leave a Comment