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Cooking Classes in Southern California with School Information

California has more than 50 colleges that offer cooking programs. Learn about the degree programs, tuition info and program options for the 10 largest schools to make an informed education decision.

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Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Bartending
  • Catering and Restaurant Management
  • Chef Training
  • Food Preparation
  • Food Server and Dining Room Mgmt
  • Institutional Food Worker
  • Meat Cutting

Essential Information

While a high school diploma is a common requirement for working in the food service industry as a chef or head cook, it isn't uncommon for applicants to obtain training at a community college or trade school. Statewide, there are 56 schools that offer courses, certificates and associate's degree programs in culinary arts, with ten of them in the southern California region.

Students might gain hands-on experience by working in kitchen laboratories and school cafeterias. They can choose specialization areas and participate in culinary practica or cooperative work experiences. Below, read summaries of ten of the largest California-based programs that offer culinary arts education as well as their requirements and school tuition information. The programs include:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Baking and Pastry
  • Management in Hospitality
  • Cooking and Baking
  • Patisserie and Baking
  • Basic Cooking Essentials

College of the Canyons

At Santa Clarita's College of the Canyons, students can pursue a Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts or a Certificate of Specialization in Baking and Pastry. In the culinary arts program, students learn about topics like knife safety, baking principles, dining room service and the calculation of food service costs. This certificate program requires completion of 32.5 units, including cooperative work experience in culinary arts. The 12-unit baking and pastry program teaches topics like how baking ingredients work together in recipes, dessert and pastry preparation, chocolate work and techniques to decorate cakes and pastries.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts,
    Certificate of Specialization in Baking and Pastry
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,154 (in state)*
    $5,234 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2 year, public; midsize suburb

Grossmont College

El Cajon's Grossmont College offers certificate and associate's degrees in baking and pastry, culinary arts and culinary entrepreneurship. Although the degree programs have different requirements, based on a student's chosen specialty, common course requirements include quantity food production, sanitation for food service, and work experience in culinary arts. In the baking and pastry degree program, students learn how to create decorative pieces, bake bread and prepare chocolate, while the culinary arts degree program teaches students about buffet and catering work, food purchasing, quantity food production and menu management.

The culinary entrepreneurship program requires that students take courses in accounting, marketing and management principles, in addition to culinary arts-related courses. To qualify for certificates of achievement, students must complete all major-related courses for each topic. Grossmont also awards a Certificate of Proficiency in line cook, banquet cook, prep cook and pastry cook.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts,
    Associate of Science in Baking and Pastry Arts,
    Associate of Science in Culinary Art,
    Associate of Science in Culinary Entrepreneurship
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,387 (in state)*
    $6,897 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2 year, public; large suburb

Long Beach City College

This 2-year college in Long Beach offers Associate in Science (A.S.) degrees in baking and pastry arts and culinary arts, as well as certificates of achievement and certificates of accomplishment in both topics. Students in the A.S. in Baking and Pastry Arts degree program learn about nutrition for culinary arts, commercial cake decorating and chocolate. In the A.S. in Culinary Arts degree program, students learn about basic cooking skills, garde manger and classical cuisine. Both programs include a food services field experience. To earn a certificate of achievement, students must complete the required courses in each program, outside of electives and general education classes.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Baking and Pastry Arts,
    Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts,
    Associate in Science in Baking and Pastry Arts,
    Associate in Science in Culinary Art
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,366 (in state)*
    $7,218 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Orange Coast Community College

In Costa Mesa, students with an interest in culinary arts can pursue certificates and associate degrees in basic and advanced culinary arts or baking, culinology and pastry. For those interested in culinary arts, the college offers a certificate of achievement in basic or advanced culinary arts. The 3-semester basic certificate includes the study of nutrition, sanitation and safety, dining room service and baking. Topics discussed in the advanced culinary arts certificate program include garde manger procedures, baking, menu planning and culinary principles. Students can then complete an associate of science or associate of arts in culinary arts by completing specific general education courses, in addition to the required classes.

The college also offers a Certificate of Specialization in Baking and Pastry Basic and a Certificate of Achievement in Advanced Baking and Pastry. The 2-semester basic certificate program requires the study of baking principles, nutrition, math and accounting for food service. The Certificate of Achievement in Advanced Baking and Pastry is a 4-semester program that covers the hospitality industry, principles of baking and food production management. A directed practice is required for both programs. For students who are interested in the science of food, the school offers certificates in culinary food science or culinology. Each certificate can be completed in 2 semesters and has its own requirements.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts Basic,
    Certificate of Specialization in Baking and Pastry Basic,
    Certificate of Achievement in Advanced Baking and Pastry,
    Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts,
    Associate of Science in Culinary Arts
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,184 (in state)*
    $6,320 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2 year, public; midsize city

Palomar College

This 2-year, public college in San Marcos offers multiple associate's and certificate programs for prospective cooks. In the Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts program, students learn knife skills, along with how to cook vegetables and starches, meats, stocks and sauces. Students complete 2 directed practice sessions in this 41-credit hour certificate program. The Associate of Arts program includes all of the required courses in the certificate, plus general education requirements.

The Certificate of Proficiency in Culinary Arts is a 17-credit-hour certificate program that includes courses in dining room service, culinary essentials, nutrition and garde manger. In the 12-credit-hour Certificate of Proficiency in Patisserie and Baking program, students receive instruction in basic and advanced pastry and baking, microbiology and food, and nutrition.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts,
    Certificate of Proficiency in Culinary Skills,
    Certificate of Proficiency in Patisserie and Baking,
    Associate in Arts in Culinary Arts
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,328 (in state)*
    $5,224 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2 year, public; small city

Pasadena City College

At this Pasadena college, students can earn a Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts by completing 40 credit hours in culinary arts. Students plan and prepare meals in the kitchen lab, as well as serve meals in the cafeteria and for special events. This 2-semester program includes instruction in special events management, cooking techniques and food service practices. Students aren't required to complete electives, but can choose from advanced baking and pastry techniques, catering and field practice in food service.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,152 (in state)*
    $6,504 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2 year, public; midsize city

Riverside City College

Students in Riverside must attend an orientation session and be at least 18 years old before they can pursue a Certificate in Culinary Arts or an Associate in Science in Culinary Arts. In the certificate program, students learn about cooking methods, culinary theory and menu construction, along with intermediate and advanced culinary techniques. Students must purchase uniforms and a knife set. Students will obtain certification in presentation service, ServSafe and CPR.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts,
    Associate in Science in Culinary Arts
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,413 (in state)*
    $6,813 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

San Diego Continuing Education

In San Diego, individuals with a love of cooking can pursue a Certificate in Culinary Arts at San Diego Continuing Education. The 600-clock-hour program includes hands-on training in an industrial kitchen where they'll learn knife skills, food presentation and styling, and the basics of baking and pastry. In preparation for culinary employment, students also learn about culinary math and food safety. For each section, students earn a Certificate of Completion, but a Certificate in Culinary Arts is awarded after completing all modules.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate in Culinary Arts
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): No tuition for high school students; $165 for books and supplies**
  • School Type & Setting: Less than 2-year, public; large city

San Diego Mesa College

A certificate and associate's degree in culinary arts/management in hospitality are available at this college in San Diego. The certificate program requires the completion of 30 credit hours or 10 classes in topics like event catering, food preparation and food service. Students must also complete a culinary practicum. The A.S. in Culinary Arts/Management in Hospitality program includes the same courses as the certificate, but also explores gourmet food preparation, menu analysis, nutrition and garde manger production.

  • Programs Offered: Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts/Management in Hospitality,
    Associate in Science in Culinary Arts/Management in Hospitality
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,140 (in state)*
    $5,532 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2-year, public; large city

Southwestern College

At Chula Vista's Southwestern College, students can pursue an Associate in Science in Culinary Arts with an emphasis in cooking and baking, a Certificate of Proficiency in Culinary Arts with an emphasis in basic cooking essentials, or Certificates of Achievement in advanced cooking and baking or professional baking and pastry. The A.S. in Cooking and Baking degree program combines business courses and culinary training. Culinary arts courses include topics like stocks and sauces, sanitation for professional food service, baking and pastry production, preparation of soups and pastry decorating.

The 16-unit basic cooking essentials certificate program covers topics like the preparation of soups and stocks, cost controls and sanitation practices. Students in the 36-38-unit advanced cooking and baking program gain work experience and learn about baking skills, international cuisine and bread production. Prospective bakers and pastry chefs can learn fundamental baking skills in the professional baking and pastry certificate program, which is 18 units.

  • Programs Offered: Associate in Science in Culinary Arts - Cooking and Baking,
    Certificate of Proficiency in Culinary Arts - Basic Cooking Essentials,
    Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts - Advanced Cooking and Baking,
    Certificate of Achievement in Professional Baking and Pastry
  • Tuition & Fees (2012-2013): $1,334 (in state)*
    $6,654 (out-of-state)*
  • School Type & Setting: 2 year, public; large suburb

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Culinary Arts Programs Offered Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013)
College of the Canyons 2 year, public; midsize suburb Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts,
Certificate of Specialization in Baking and Pastry
$1,154 (in state)*
$5,234 (out-of-state)*
Grossmont College 2 year, public; large suburb Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts,
Associate of Science in Baking and Pastry Arts,
Associate of Science in Culinary Art,
Associate of Science in Culinary Entrepreneurship
$1,387 (in state)*
$6,897 (out-of-state)*
Long Beach City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Baking and Pastry Arts,
Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts,
Associate in Science in Baking and Pastry Arts,
Associate in Science in Culinary Art
$1,366 (in state)*
$7,218 (out-of-state)*
Orange Coast College 2 year, public; midsize city Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts Basic,
Certificate of Specialization in Baking and Pastry Basic,
Certificate of Achievement in Advanced Baking and Pastry,
Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts,
Associate of Science in Culinary Arts
$1,184 (in state)*
$6,320 (out-of-state)*
Palomar College 2 year, public; small city Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts,
Certificate of Proficiency in Culinary Skills,
Certificate of Proficiency in Patisserie and Baking,
Associate in Arts in Culinary Arts
$1,328 (in state)*
$5,224 (out-of-state)*
Pasadena City College 2 year, public; midsize city Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts $1,152 (in state)*
$6,504 (out-of-state)*
Riverside City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts,
Associate in Science in Culinary Arts
$1,413 (in state)*
$6,813 (out-of-state)*
San Diego Continuing Education Less than 2-year, public; large city Certificate in Culinary Arts No tuition for high school students; $165 for books and supplies**
San Diego Mesa College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts/Management in Hospitality,
Associate in Science in Culinary Arts/Management in Hospitality
$1,140 (in state)*
$5,532 (out-of-state)*
Southwestern College 2 year, public; large suburb Associate in Science in Culinary Arts - Cooking and Baking,
Certificate of Proficiency in Culinary Arts - Basic Cooking Essentials,
Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts - Advanced Cooking and Baking,
Certificate of Achievement in Professional Baking and Pastry
$1,334 (in state)*
$6,654 (out-of-state)*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator, **San Diego Continuing Education.

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