Called the ‘snack food capital of the world’ by author Sharon Hernes Silverman, Pennsylvania has a rich food history and heritage. As the leading manufacturer of chips and pretzels and America’s chocolate industry hub, the Keystone state proudly combines a love of comfort foods with a higher level of cuisine, boasting hundreds of fine dining restaurants. This fusion of cheap eats mixed with culinary art makes Pennsylvania a top spot to consider when planning a career in food.
Pennsylvania Combines Food Variety with Affordability
With a large ‘Pennsylvania Dutch’ population due to German heritage, some foods found prominently in Pennsylvania include scrapple, chicken potpie, fasnachts (raised doughnuts), bologna, Shoofly pie (a molasses cake eaten with strong black coffee), and pretzels. More famously, Philadelphia’s iconic foods include the Philly cheesesteak, soft pretzels, Italian water ice, pierogis, and strombolis.
Many of these tasty treats are available at smaller, independently-run restaurants and delis, with an emphasis on high-quality food at a reasonable price. With a huge variety of local takes on popular cuisine, Pennsylvania has food for everyone, and is also home to some of the best culinary schools in the country.
Pennsylvania’s Culinary Scene is Growing
In 2015, over 25,000 restaurants across Pennsylvania brought in a combined revenue of $18.8 billion, with the industry booming in the years since then. From fast food to full-service restaurants, residents and visitors to Pennsylvania love to experience the unique food culture there and continue to help it grow.
Employing over half a million individuals at every level of the food industry, Pennsylvania is the perfect platform to showcase newly acquired culinary skills. With almost 100 food and wine festivals throughout the year which attract thousands of visitors, the food scene in Pennsylvania is thriving and always on the lookout for innovative new culinary experiences.
Competitive Salaries for All Levels of Culinary Practice
With culinary chefs making, on average, $44,240 per year, Pennsylvania is a competitive market salary-wise. Salaries for culinary professionals typically start at around $28,000, and with the continued growth of the food industry in Pennsylvania, the chances for professional growth are always increasing.
An exceptional food experience, Pennsylvania not only offers high-quality eats, but also high-quality culinary education for those who are passionate about working in the industry. Here are some of the best culinary schools in the Keystone state and what they can offer you and your career.
Pittsburgh Technical College
This culinary school has several course options for students to choose from:
- AACA Certificate in Culinary Arts
- Associates in Culinary Arts
- Baking and Pastry
Known as the American Academy of Culinary Arts (AACA), Pittsburg Technical College offers those with a flair for food the opportunity to study in one of Pennsylvania’s most popular locations. Their comprehensive programs encompass everything you need to become a fully-qualified American chef, focusing on the key fundamentals necessary to work in any kitchen or hospitality environment.
Pittsburg Technical College sets students up for success by giving them the tools they need to flourish in the kitchen. From practical skills such as knife handling, sauce making, and baking to broader skills like the principles of nutrition, creative plate presentation, and kitchen design, this culinary school offers a well-rounded education to prepare students for their future careers.
Students have access to career services which are designed to help them develop career plans and reach out to prospective employers through arranging internships and hosting job fairs. Pittsburg Technical College is proud to have close relationships with both local and national businesses which has helped their culinary students achieve the career of their dreams.
Walnut Hill College
The courses available to students at Walnut Hill College are as follows:
- Associate of Science in Culinary Arts
- Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts
- Associate of Science in Pastry Arts
- Bachelor of Science in Pastry Arts
- Associate Degree in Restaurant Management
- Bachelor Degree in Restaurant Management
- Associate of Science in Hotel Management
- Bachelor of Science in Hotel Management
Located in Philadelphia, at the heart of Pennsylvania’s food scene, Walnut Hill College’s Restaurant School offers students the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of culinary arts, preparing them for both entry-level and upper-level restaurant and hospitality career openings.
With a range of courses to choose from, including restaurant and hospitality management, Walnut Hill College takes every aspect of the culinary world into considering, providing its students with a wholly encompassing education. With a focus on culinary and pastry arts, this school offers the ability to undertake courses both full- and part-time for flexibility.
One incredible opportunity awaiting Walnut Hill College students is the ability to explore different cuisines in different countries through tuition-funded travel to both France and England, depending on whether the student chooses the Associates or Bachelors degree. Rewarding and exciting, this culinary school takes students on a gastronomic tour, allowing them to experience food art on an entirely new level.
The Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts
The courses available to students are:
- Associate in Specialized Business degree – Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management
- Diploma in Pastry Arts
With both the Culinary Arts and Pastry educational programs given ‘Exemplary’ ACF accreditation, the Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts excels at teaching students both the basic and the more complicated principles involved in food preparation and management. Proudly displaying this status since 2015, this culinary school offers students an education that focuses on practical training, boasting industry-quality kitchens to work in and a private, fully functional restaurant.
As part of the Culinary Arts program, which includes restaurant management, this culinary school offers students the opportunity to take part in a three-month externship. Students are invited to practice their newly-acquired skills in a professional environment, allowing them to experience kitchen and management life before embarking on their new career.
Located in Lancaster, the Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts is close to Philadelphia, allowing students to experience the high cuisine and popular food available in the thriving city. Being outside of Philadelphia itself gives students the opportunity to experience life near the city with cheaper living costs than those of colleges and institutes based in Philadelphia and Pittsburg.
The Art Institute of Philadelphia
The course options are as follows:
- Associate Degree in Culinary Arts
- Bachelors Degree in Culinary Management
- Baking and Pastry Diploma
- Culinary Arts Diploma
In the heart of Philadelphia, The Art Institute brings students directly into the food capital of Pennsylvania, allowing them to experience the wide and varied cuisine culture that continues to grow in the city.
This culinary school aims to prepare students for any setting, wanting them to leave as well-rounded food artists. During the course, they will explore a range of world cuisines and baking and pastry techniques, as well as looking at nutrition, menu planning, sanitation and safety, foodservice technology, and food and beverage operations management.
While on- and off-campus living is more expensive due to being located in Philadelphia, many students consider the location to be beneficial. Course students are able to experience the food culture in the city and create links with local restaurants and food businesses, increasing their chances of finding employment faster once they’ve completed their studies.
Westmoreland County Community College
- Baking and Pastry, AAS, Apprenticeship
- Baking and Pastry Apprenticeship Diploma
- Baking and Pastry, AAS, Non-Apprenticeship
- Baking and Pastry Non-Apprenticeship Diploma
- Baking and Pastry Certificate
- Culinary Arts, AAS, Apprenticeship
- Culinary Arts Apprenticeship Diploma
- Culinary Arts, AAS Non-Apprenticeship
- Culinary Arts Non-Apprenticeship Diploma
- Dietetic Technology and Nutritional Services Management, AAS
- Dining Room Management, Certificate
- Hotel and Resort Management, AAS
- Hotel and Resort Management Diploma
- Hotel and Resort Management Certificate
- Restaurant/Culinary Management, AAS
- Restaurant/Culinary Management Diploma
- Restaurant/Culinary Management Certificate
Accredited as ‘Exemplary’ by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation, the culinary programs at Westmoreland College offer students state-of-the-art kitchens to work in, direct connections with the culinary industry, and hugely knowledgeable professors.
Westmoreland College offers the highest number of different course options out of the culinary schools on this list. This variety is ideal for students who are interested in both working with food and also hospitality and kitchen management.
With both apprenticeship and non-apprenticeship diplomas available, all students are required to undertake internships in their chosen field, which help them to amass over 4,000 hours of on-the-job, supervised work experience. Located in Youngwood, Pennsylvania, Westmoreland College is close to Pittsburg, which has a thriving restaurant and kitchen scene. Students are able to get hands-on work experience while also sampling local cuisine and gaining valuable insight into local food trends. Based outside of a major city, this culinary school offers education and board at a lower price than those based in Philadelphia and Pittsburg.