Top Rated Culinary School for Becoming a Chef - Norfolk, VA

Norfolk, VA, has few schools with culinary programs. Find the best program for you by reading about schools' program offerings, courses and tuition info.

School and Ranking Information

There are more than two dozen options for a student seeking a culinary education in Norfolk, VA. The nearest not-for-profit schools offering culinary programs are:

  • Winner: Tidewater Community College (TCC) is the only one to offer an associate degree in culinary arts. It also boasts the largest student body, the most opportunities for hands-on experience and is located right in Norfolk.
  • Runner Up #1: College of the Albemarle (COA) has a higher graduation rate and more culinary program options than Runner Up #2.
  • Runner Up #2: Rappahannock Community College (RCC) offers students the opportunity to cook for the public during events at regional restaurants.

School Comparison Chart

Category Tidewater Community College College of the Albemarle Rappahannock Community College
Location Norfolk, VA Edenton, NC (70 miles from downtown Norfolk) Glenns, VA (62 miles from downtown Norfolk)
School Type 2-year, public 2-year, public 2-year, public
Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2012-2013) $3,644 (in-state); $8,254 (out-of-state)* $1,998 (in-state); $7,180 (out-of-state)* $3,089 (in-state); $7,699 (out-of-state)*
Culinary Award Levels Offered < 1-year certificate; associate degree < 1 year and 1-2 year certificate < 1-year certificate
Culinary Degrees and Certificates Awarded (All Levels) in 2011-2012 31* 7* 1*
Most Popular Culinary Program 2011-2012 Associate Degree in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts, General (27 awarded)* 1-2 Year Certificate in Culinary Arts/Chef Training (7 awarded)* < 1-Year Certificate in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts, General (1 awarded)*
Undergraduate Graduation Rate (in 150% of normal program time) for 2008 Entering Class 13%* 27%* 24%*
Noteworthy Culinary program has dedicated counselor Culinary students grow their own vegetables Tuition may be paid through monthly online payment plan

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator.

Winner: Tidewater Community College

  • Department is accredited by the American Culinary Association
  • Culinary associate degree is offered through either day or evening classes
  • In 2009, TCC had the second highest population of undergraduate students in VA
  • Associate program includes a paid 240-hour professional internship
  • Culinary students have opportunities to participate in area and school-wide contests

TCC's culinary arts department offers both an associate degree in culinary arts and three related certificate programs in catering, classical cooking and kitchen management. All programs include instruction in entrepreneurial principles and restaurant safety. Students are required to purchase and maintain their own uniforms and knives. The 4-semester degree program can be accelerated by taking classes during an 8-week summer semester. Many classes involve projects, such as preparing a kosher luncheon at a local temple or fashioning a gingerbread village for a children's hospital. The department is American Culinary Association (ACF) accredited, and students who maintain membership in AFC will receive Certified Culinarian certification when they graduate.

Runner-Up #1: College of the Albemarle

  • Students have opportunities to cook for local leaders
  • Full-time retention rate of 91% from 2010-2011, according to the NCES

The College of the Albemarle offers a 1-year culinary diploma and two sequential 1-semester certificate programs at its Edenton - Chowan campus. All programs teach cooking and service skills, along with teamwork and business ethics. Coursework covers sanitation and safety, culinary skills, baking and garde manger. The diploma program requires the completion of 39 credits and includes some general education classes and a work co-op. The certificate programs are 14 and 16 credits in length. Since this school is in North Carolina, Norfolk residents would pay out-of-state tuition.

Runner-Up #2: Rappahannock Community College

  • Summer externships at area restaurants are available after completion of spring semester
  • Students cook for the public during events at regional restaurants

RCC offers a 24-credit certificate program that includes courses in food preparation, food safety, culinary skills and hospitality management. While the lectures take place in on-campus classrooms, the hands-on portions of the program are taught off-campus at locations such as the Northern Neck Tech Center and local restaurants. In the past, students have catered events at the Golden Eagle Grille, the St. Andrews Grille and The Tides Inn as a part of their final exam. A 2.0 GPA or better is required to earn the certificate, and a single absence may result in dismissal from the program.

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