Catering and Gourmet Cooking: Online Diploma

Learn about online certificate and degree programs in catering and gourmet cooking. Get information about program types and course descriptions as well as career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

A number of catering and gourmet cooking diploma programs are delivered online, appealing to students who simply want to grow their culinary skills, as well as those who want to work in the food services industry. Students typically have up to a year to complete a program. Programs are available at the certificate, associate's, and bachelor's degree levels.

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Culinary Certificates

Online catering and gourmet cooking certificate programs introduce students to a variety of industry careers and help them gain valuable hands-on culinary experience within their own kitchens. Students can receive online training from industry professionals for a broad range of courses.

Information and Requirements

To earn an online certificate in catering and gourmet cooking, students usually study textbooks received by mail and complete assignments online. Technological requirements include high-speed Internet access and media plug-ins, such as Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Acrobat Reader or Windows Media Player. All courses can be taken via distance education so campus visits are unnecessary.

List of Common Courses

Classes cover a range of general topics, such as food storage, menu creation, dish presentation, classical and modern cooking techniques, proper sanitation, event catering and business management. Some of the most common ones are listed below:

Basics of Cooking

This course covers standard sanitation procedures, kitchen safety, and an overview of ingredients and food products. Students explore tools used in the trade and basics of following recipes and creating menus.

Meat and Vegetable Preparation

Students discover proper methods for preparing different kinds of meat, including fish, poultry and beef. They learn to create sides with vegetables, to mix salad dressings and to use starches, such as potatoes.

Breakfast Foods

This course trains participants to prepare drinks such as coffee and tea and to operate a bakeshop. Students learn about breakfast foods, including ways to bake and present them. This course also covers the use of dairy products in cooking.


This introductory course provides information about what catering is and how to find clients. It also covers different catering styles and ways to plan events. Other topics include methods for organizing equipment, setting prices and preparing foods.

Beginning a Catering Business

This course provides the information students need to write a business plan, market their business and determine how much product they need for events. Students also learn to solve common catering problems and create menus.

Career Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chefs and head cooks earned a median annual salary of $41,500 as of May 2015, while restaurant cooks made $23,100 (

According to, catering sales managers made a median salary of $42,529 as of October 2016; catering managers earned a median salary of $42,826. The BLS projected that, between 2014 and 2024, employment opportunities would increase by nine percent for chefs and head cooks. The job prospects for cooks, according to the BLS, was only four percent growth rate over the same period.

Continuing Education

Graduates of online certificate programs in catering and gourmet cooking might be eligible for the National Career Certification Board's certification exam for catering associates. Also, students may continue their training through online or on-campus associate's degree programs in culinary arts or hospitality and restaurant management. Another online option for advancement would be pursuing a bachelor's degree program in culinary management. This step could prepare students for higher-paying positions within the hospitality industry, including managerial positions in restaurants and hotels.

Related Degree Options

For those looking to advance beyond a certificate, there are a number of online undergraduate degree options in fields related to cooking and catering. These degree programs include:

  • Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts
  • Associate of Applied Science in Pastry Arts
  • Associate of Occupational Studies in Hospitality and Restaurant Management
  • Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Management

Students who complete a catering and gourmet cooking online program gain skills in creating menus, presenting food, and business management. Graduates of these programs may find work as chefs, cooks and caterers.

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