Orlando-Area Cooking Schools
Restaurant chefs, caterers and bakers often receive cooking education and training through culinary arts programs, and several schools in the Orlando area offer such training. This article profiles three public schools within 25 minutes of downtown that provide certificate and associate's degree programs in various areas. There is also a table of data about each school, including enrollment figures, tuition and graduation rates. There is information about a couple of other area schools with culinary arts programs at the end of the article.
- Valencia Community College is in the heart of downtown Orlando. It offers two certificates and two associate's degrees in the culinary arts and baking and pastry arts.
- Students at Mid Florida Tech can pursue a 1,200-hour culinary arts program that prepares them for careers in commercial food preparation. This school is approximately six miles from downtown Orlando.
- Just over a mile from the city center, Orlando Tech also offers a 1,200-hour culinary arts career training program.
Comparison of Schools
Prospective cooking students should consider many factors when choosing a school for their studies. The following table presents important information about each school in a format that makes it easy to compare them.
|Valencia College||Orange Technical College Mid-Florida Campus||Orlando Tech|
|School Type||4-year; public (primarily associate's)||2-year; public||2-year; public|
|Total Enrollment (2014)||43,217*||1,826*||909*|
|Campus Setting||Midsized city||Large suburb||Midsized City|
|Tuition & Fees (2015-2016)||$2,474 in-state; $9,383 out-of-state||$5,100 (estimated program cost)*||$5,100 (estimated program cost)*|
|% of First-Year, Full-Time Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2014)||82%*||78%*||77%*|
|Acceptance Rate (2014)||Open admissions*||Open admissions*||Open admissions*|
|Retention Rate (Fall 2013 to Fall 2014)||N/A*||60% for full-time students; 41% for part-time students*||82% for full-time students; 55% for part-time students*|
|Graduation Rate||44% (Students who started 2008)*||41% (Students who started 2011)*||80% (Students who started 2011)*|
Source: *NCES College Navigator.
The Hospitality and Culinary Department at Valencia College offers programs in hospitality, restaurant and food service management, culinary arts and baking and pastry management. Additional career programs available at the school include allied health, arts and entertainment, business, engineering, criminal justice, information technology and landscaping.
Baking and Pastry Arts Technical Certificate
The baking and pastry arts certificate requires 35 credits and is offered on a part-time and full-time schedule. The full-time program can be finished in three semesters, while the part-time program takes six semesters to complete. Coursework covers topics in sanitation, food service management, baking ingredients, baking techniques, cakes and pastries and catering management. An internship is also part of the curriculum.
Culinary Arts Technical Certificate
This 35-credit certificate program can prepare students for entry-level culinary positions in as little as four semesters. A course on classical cuisine focuses on basic soups and sauces. Two baking and pastry courses teach the fundamentals of baking; the first course focuses on breads, rolls, classical cakes and icings, while the second presents advanced techniques and recipes, including modern, low-fat desserts.
Associate in Science in Baking and Pastry Arts Management
The Associate in Science in Baking and Pastry Arts Management is a 64-credit program that combines baking and management courses. Baking courses teach students about specialty breads, baking techniques, cookies and tarts, chocolates and production pastries. Management courses ensure students understand cost control, computer applications and catering.
Associate in Science in Culinary Management
Students in this program can learn business skills such as management of catering and banquets, as well as cooking techniques and how to create dishes from around the world. Courses on classical cuisines, international foods and regional foods introduce students to techniques to broaden their palates. Students look at multiple facets of commercial or institutional food and beverage institutions, from nutrition and computer applications to cost control, labor and management.
Orange Technical College Mid-Florida Campus
Mid Florida Tech offers vocational programs, adult education courses and apprenticeships. Students can pursue vocational programs in architecture, marketing, manufacturing, public service and transportation, among other areas. A culinary arts program is offered through the Hospitality and Tourism Division.
Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts Program
The commercial foods and culinary arts program provides students with the training to cook, bake and prepare various kinds of foods. The program requires 1,200 hours and provides students with an opportunity to learn about nutrition, menu planning, sanitary procedures, cooking and baking techniques, purchasing and storing. Students have the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to prepare fruits, vegetables, chicken, fish, buffets and desserts.
Orange Technical College Orlando Tech
Orlando Tech offers both academic and technical programs for career preparation. Academic programs include Adult Basic Education, English as a second language courses, GED training and Vocational Preparatory Instruction. Students can pursue vocational training in areas such as arts and technology, culinary arts, dental assisting, accounting, animation and childcare center operations.
Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts Certificate Program
The commercial foods and culinary arts program consists of 1,200 hours of coursework. Classes meet on both a full-time and part-time schedule. The program covers cooking techniques, food presentation, inventory and ordering, table service and management skills. Students also receive their safety and sanitation license during the program.
Other School Options
Students in the Orlando area might also be interested in the Commercial Food and Culinary Arts programs at Westside Tech, located around 13 miles away in nearby Winter Garden, FL, and the Technical Education Center - Osceola in Kissimmee, FL, about 18 miles from downtown Orlando. These 1,200-hour programs are designed for individuals interested in careers as cooks, caterers or restaurant managers.