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Cooking Classes in Orlando with Program Overviews

The Orlando area has at least five colleges that offer cooking programs. Learn about the programs, admission info and program requirements for three of these schools, none more than 10 miles from downtown, and make an informed education decision.

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. After brief descriptions of these programs, the article goes on to present 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.

Valencia College

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.

Mid Florida Tech

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.

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 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.

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 Mid Florida Tech Orlando Tech
School Type 4-year; public (primarily associate's) 2-year; public 2-year; public
Total Enrollment (2011) 42,631* 2,011* 639*
Campus Setting Midsized city Large suburb Midsized City
Tuition & Fees (2010-2011) $2,972 in-state; $11,257 out-of-state $3,846 (program cost)* $3,585 (program cost)*
% of First-Year, Full-Time Students Receiving Any Form of Aid (2011) 85%* 67%* 29%*
Acceptance Rate (2011) Open admissions* Open admissions* Open admissions*
Retention Rate (2011) N/A* 84% for full-time students; 62% for part-time students* 55% for full-time students; 39% for part-time students*
Graduation Rate (2011) 38% (13% transfer-out rate)* 46%* 69%*

Source: *NCES College Navigator.

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.

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