According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, people who become chefs or head cooks often acquire their training through work experience; others, however, are trained at a formal cooking school or in a culinary arts program at a two- or four-year college. The San Francisco Bay Area is home to five community colleges that offer training in cooking - three in the East Bay, one to the north and one in San Francisco.
Associate degree and certificate programs are commonly offered in culinary arts and baking and pastry arts. Other focuses of certificate programs include basic food service, cooking and restaurant management. Individual courses are also available. Read on for more details about San Francisco area colleges offering cooking classes and programs.
City College of San Francisco
Students at the San Francisco-based City College of San Francisco can pursue multiple options in culinary arts, from non-credit courses in home cooking to a professional-level program. For home cooks, four evening courses are available covering fitness and food, cooking for special occasions, international cuisine and basic cooking skills. These courses have no prerequisites and are open to the community.
Those looking to beef up their culinary and service skills can enroll in a two-semester, non-credit certificate program that offers an introduction to cooking and dining room service, preparing graduates for entry-level positions in the food industry. Students can choose from two options: dining services or baking and pastry. Participants learn about salad and sandwich preparation, sanitation, knife safety and food purchasing. Classes take place in the school's restaurant, the Educated Palate.
CCSF also offers an Associate of Science in Culinary Arts that is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. The curriculum consists of classes in nutrition, restaurant operations, quantity food preparation, accounting and purchasing. Students also must complete general education requirements. There is a fieldwork component during the student's final semester and extensive hands-on training throughout the program. Students are also encouraged to take elective lecture-demonstration classes in pastry, wine, ethnic cuisines and other areas. Upon completion of the two-year program, graduates are awarded a certificate from the American Culinary Federation.
Contra Costa College
Aspiring cooks and bakers at Contra Costa College in San Pablo have several options. The Associate in Science in Classical/Modern Food Preparation and Restaurant Training includes food service certification, an introduction to modern and classical food preparation, cake finishing and restaurant desserts. Students also complete occupational work experience along with sessions in a culinary lab to perfect their skills. Additionally, there is a certificate option for this program in which students take only the classes needed for the major (A.S. students must take general education requirements).
The program in baking and pastry includes courses in commercial baking, pastry production and food safety certification; students also complete culinary lab sessions. This program can be completed for a certificate or, by adding general education coursework, an associate degree. Other options offered at the school include certificates of accomplishment in restaurant management and basic food service.
Diablo Valley College
Pleasant Hill's Diablo Valley College offers cooking classes through its Hotel and Restaurant Management Department. The school's Associate in Science in Hospitality Studies program has concentrations in baking and pastry, culinary arts and restaurant management. All of these concentrations have certificate options as well. Students receive diverse training in a variety of facilities, such as a laboratory, pastry shop and restaurant; they also participate in internships.
Oakland's Laney College offers two associate degrees related to culinary arts, as well as a Certificate of Proficiency in Cooking. The A.S. in Baking and Pastry curriculum includes food science and nutrition, artisan breads, chocolate making and culinary career strategies. The A.S. in Restaurant Management program explores recipes, formula and food costs, quantity food production and stocks, soups and sauces, as well as hospitality industry management. Students who choose not to complete the general education requirements for an associate degree may earn a certificate in either baking and pastry or restaurant management. The Certificate of Proficiency in Cooking is a two-semester program that covers the dynamics of heat cooking, ingredients and equipment, sanitation and quantity food production.
Santa Rosa Junior College
This school, located north of the Golden Gate Bridge in Santa Rosa, offers an associate degree and a certificate in culinary arts, as well as a baking/pastry certificate. Students in the one-semester baking and pastry program learn basic baking skills, after which they move into baking for production, gaining hands-on experience in the college's retail bakery. The two-semester culinary arts certificate program includes training in the preparation of a variety of dishes, from soups and side dishes to breads and pastries. Certificates in front house operations, dining room service and restaurant management are also available.
Associate degree-seekers take more classes in the culinary arts major, including electives in wine appreciation, confections and soft desserts. They also take general education coursework. Students gain practical experience in the Culinary Café.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type & Setting||Cooking Classes and Programs Offered||Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|City College of San Francisco||Two-year, public; large city|| Courses for the Home Cook,
Culinary and Service Skills Training,
A.S. in Culinary Arts
| $1,696 (in-state),
|Contra Costa College||Two-year, public; large suburb|| Certificate of Accomplishment in Restaurant Management,
Certificate of Accomplishment in Basic Food Service,
A.S./Certificate of Achievement in Classical/Modern Food Preparation and Restaurant Training,
A.S./Certificate of Achievement in Baking and Pastry Skills
| $1,312 (in-state),
|Diablo Valley College||Two-year, public; large suburb|| Certificate of Achievement in Baking and Pastry,
Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts,
Certificate of Achievement in Restaurant Management,
A.S. in Hospitality Studies
| $1,312 (in-state),
|Laney College||Two-year, public; large city|| Certificate of Proficiency in Cooking,
A.S./Certificate of Achievement in Baking and Pastry,
A.S./Certificate of Achievement in Restaurant Management
| $1,254 (in-state),
|Santa Rosa Junior College||Two-year, public; midsize city|| Certificate in Baking and Pastry,
Certificate in Culinary Arts,
Certificate in Restaurant Management,
Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts
| $1,328 (in-state),
Source: *NCES College Navigator.