Cooking Classes in Manhattan with Program and School Information

Jan 18, 2019

The Manhattan area has several colleges within 20 miles of the downtown area that offer cooking classes. Learn about the certificate and degree programs, admission info and program requirements for three of these schools to make an informed education decision.

Manhattan Schools with Cooking Classes

Aspiring culinary professionals in Manhattan can find classes and programs at one community college and one 4-year school that are affiliated with the City University of New York (CUNY), as well as a New Jersey community college. Read about the colleges and their culinary arts programs below, and find a comparison table with essential school information. An overview of other area schools with culinary arts programs is at the end of the article.

  • Hudson County Community College in Jersey City, NJ, is located less than five miles away from downtown Manhattan. The college's Culinary Arts Institute has been in existence for more than 20 years and offers one of just two programs in the area that are recognized by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC). Individual programs can lead to a certificate or an associate degree.
  • According to a 2007 article in The New York Times, Kingsborough Community College (CUNY) is one of the top 2-year schools in the United States. The college is located in the Manhattan Beach area of Brooklyn, about 17 miles from downtown New York City. Its culinary arts programs are designed to prepare students for a number of industry-related certifications and culminate in a certificate or an associate degree.
  • The New York City College of Technology (CUNY) is also located in Brooklyn, about two miles from downtown Manhattan. The largest technology school in the northeastern United States, the college is home to the Hospitality Management Department, which has been in existence since 1947. Its two undergraduate programs include courses in baking, cooking and restaurant operations and can lead to a 2-year or 4-year degree.

Comparison of Schools

Aspiring chefs can use this table to find out which of the three featured schools is the most affordable and which one has the highest retention rate for first-time students. Enrollment, financial aid and graduation statistics can also be found in the table.

Hudson County Community College CUNY Kingsborough Community College CUNY New York City College of Technology
School Type 2-year; public 2-year; public 4-year, primarily associate; public
Total Enrollment (2017)* 8,864 15,034 17,279
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large city
Undergraduate Tuition and Fees (2017-2018)* $5,508 in-district; $9,558 in-state; $13,428 out-of-state $5,252 in-state; $8,132 out-of-state $6,920 in-state; $14,310 out-of-state
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017)* 81% 79% 82%
Acceptance Rate (2017)* N/A (open admission policy) N/A (open admission policy) 77%
Retention Rate (2016-2017)* 58% for full-time students; 42% for part-time students 70% for full-time students; 45% for part-time students 78% for full-time students; 60% for part-time students
Graduation Rate (completed program within 150% of 'normal' time)* 10% (students who started in 2014) 28% (students who started in 2014) 18% (students who started in 2011)

Source: *NCES College Navigator

Hudson County Community College (HCCC)

In addition to being approved by the ACFEFAC, the college's Culinary Arts Institute has been formally recognized by the commission's Educational Foundation, an honor enjoyed by a limited number of schools across the country. The school has an open admissions process, but students who apply to the 1-year certificate and degree programs are required to take the college's placement test.

Culinary Arts Certificate

The Culinary Arts Certificate program helps aspiring cooks acquire the skills they need to enter the foodservice business. This professional program combines general education courses with culinary arts content, such as breakfast and cold food preparation, food sanitation, baking and nutrition. Through the two lab-based courses in commercial food preparation, students are introduced to the proper care and use of kitchen equipment and have the opportunity to study and practice the basic cooking techniques associated with sauces, soups, proteins and vegetables.

At the operational end, students can also learn how to use computer-based cost control systems and find out how to order, receive and properly store food. The 600-hour externship takes place during both semesters, and placements can provide future professionals with the opportunity to work in one of the area's high-end restaurants or hotels.

Baking Proficiency Certificate

This option is one of three 12-credit proficiency programs in baking and food production offered by HCCC. The baking curriculum consists of two introductory and two advanced bakeshop courses.

In the introductory courses, aspiring pastry chefs learn how to make a variety of items, including simple breads and desserts, cake batters, cookies, icings and pie crusts. At the advanced level, training topics include methods of presentation, mousses and piping techniques. The program culminates in a course in classical baking that shows students how to design a dessert buffet, make chocolates and prepare edible decorations (pastillage).

Cold Food Proficiency Certificate

In addition to a course in breakfast and pantry cooking, this program includes two sequential courses in garde manger. The introductory course covers a wide variety of brunch, buffet and luncheon foods, and students can learn how to make canapés, hors d'oeuvres and specialty sandwiches.

Intermediate training emphasizes the techniques, terminology and tools used in the buffet and garde manger process. Through a combination of demonstrations, hands-on practice and lectures, students obtain the technical skills they need to create aspics, fruit carvings and ice sculptures, as well as prepare marinades, sausages and other meat products (charcuterie). Advanced garde manger topics introduce students to more sophisticated cold foods, such as sushi, sashimi and those that are cured and smoked. Final lecture topics address the regulations associated with food shows and off-site catering.

Hot Food Proficiency Certificate

This 5-course curriculum includes a sequence in commercial cooking. The course in classical cooking stresses the significance and impact of French cuisine on contemporary food preparation, and students are taught how to make traditional entrees, sauces, soups and vegetables. The international cooking course explores the equipment, ingredients and techniques used by chefs around the globe, as well as relevant dietary guidelines.

Associate in Applied Science in Culinary Arts

The comprehensive 2-year curriculum combines the major requirements for the culinary arts certificate with the courses found in the baking, cold food and hot food programs. Useful general education classes include food and culture, speech, technical writing and computers.

Once enrolled, students complete a variety of introductory and advanced cooking, table service and food preparation courses, along with learning presentation styles for different cuisines. The content emphasizes customer service and dining room operations, and students also receive training in food-wine pairings, regional beverages and winemaking. They also acquire a background in French culinary terms and learn about the operational aspects of a successful restaurant. This program includes a 600-hour externship designed to prepare graduates for roles as bakers, chefs or restaurant managers.

Associate in Applied Science in Culinary Arts/Baking and Pastry Option

This program's first semester classes, general education coursework and externship replicate that of the 2-year culinary arts program. The difference between the two programs begins in the second semester, where pastry-chefs-in-training are introduced to professional baking techniques.

Along with the sequential bakeshop courses, students can pursue specialized topics in frozen and restaurant-style desserts, meringues and soufflés. In their final semester, students learn how to make candies and petit fours; a 2-credit restricted elective can also provide students with the skills they need to make sculpted and specialty cakes, artisan breads and chocolates. In addition to the 600-hour externship, the degree requirements include courses in cost control, menu planning and nutrition. Most of the instruction for this hands-on program takes place in the institute's pastry labs.

Kingsborough Community College (CUNY)

Both of the culinary programs at this school emphasize a technique-based approach to food preparation. They're designed to help participants obtain the training they need to qualify for a number of relevant certifications from the American Culinary Federation (Certified Culinarian), the New York City Department of Health (Certified Food Handler) and the National Restaurant Association (ServSafe and ManageFirst). All applicants are required to pass the entrance exams in math, reading and writing and take remediation courses as needed.

Certificate in Culinary Arts

This 28-credit program is designed for aspiring professionals who have already earned a degree in another major. The comprehensive curriculum covers a range of topics, including baking and pastry making, cooking methodology, cold food preparation, food safety and restaurant operations. Students also have the opportunity to participate in a 3-credit internship within the college vicinity.

Through two sequential courses in the culinary arts, students find out how to handle knives and other kitchen equipment, acquire a cooking vocabulary and become familiar with a variety of fresh and staple food products. They also learn how to properly prepare breakfast and brunch dishes, grains, pastas, soups and vegetables. Topics in the garde manger and charcuterie class include the preparation of attractive and flavorful appetizers, canapés, hors d'oeuvres and other buffet foods. Through the patisserie lesson, future chefs discover what it takes to function in a real-life pastry kitchen.

Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts

The 2-year program in the culinary arts combines general education requirements, major coursework and related electives in accounting, business, cost control or marketing. Major coursework is similar to the certificate program, but also covers topics in beverage, dining room and menu management. Students can also enjoy presentations from guest chefs and have the chance to try out their own ideas in the food product incubator. Local internship and potential employment opportunities may include those at the Aviator Sports and Recreation Center, Cold Stone Creamery, the Food Network or Le Cirque.

New York City College of Technology (CUNY)

The Hospitality Management Department, part of the School of Professional Studies, offers an associate and a bachelor's degree program that include courses in cooking and pastry making. Incoming students must take the university-wide assessment tests in math, reading and writing. Students who are interested in the Bachelor of Technology, including those from other colleges, must be in enrolled in the associate program or meet the school's transfer criteria.

Associate in Applied Science in Hospitality Management

Common courses in this 2-year program include hospitality accounting, management and marketing, baking and cooking. In addition to two courses each in the culinary and pastry arts, students can pursue related studies in food, wine and beverage management; cost control; and dining room operations. The sequential courses in cooking emphasize safety, sanitation, recipe structure and seasoning. Study abroad options include a summer exchange program in Paris and an international work program that can give aspiring chefs the chance to work at a hotel or a restaurant in Western Europe or the U.S.

Bachelor of Technology in Hospitality Management

This 4-year program's curriculum builds upon what students have learned in the associate program and requires additional courses in laboratory science, literature, statistics and social science. The financial, human resources and legal aspects of hospitality are covered in the upper-level classes, and there's also a 3-credit internship in the field. Students can concentrate in food and beverage management, the culinary arts, hotel management, tourism or teacher education.

Students who specialize in culinary and pastry arts can study contemporary and international cuisine, menu trends, bread making, food preparation and improvisational techniques. Certain classes allow students to serve as a production chef, work in a simulated pastry shop and create an original recipe for bread. The Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration has approved this degree program.

Other School Options

Along with the schools listed above, there are approximately three community colleges within 25 miles of Manhattan that offer cooking-related programs. Nassau Community College in Garden City, NY, offers a Food Service Technology Certificate and an Associate in Applied Science in Food Service Administration and Restaurant Management. A Culinary Arts Certificate and an Associate in Applied Science in Hospitality are also available from Rockland County Community College in Suffern, NY. In New Jersey, Bergen Community College in Paramus offers Associate in Applied Science degrees in catering and banquet management and culinary entrepreneurship.

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