Cooking Classes in Northern California with School Overviews

Aug 01, 2019

There are approximately 12 schools in Northern California that have cooking classes. Read an overview of the ten largest schools' programs, requirements and tuition info and find out which school is the right one for you.

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Essential Information

Over a dozen schools in Northern California offer cooking classes through certificate and associate's degree culinary arts programs as well as through continuing education courses. In addition to classroom instruction, students learn by honing their culinary skills in school-based kitchens and restaurants.

Concentration areas and internships may be included in the programs. The ten largest of Northern California's 2-year colleges provide students with a number of options for learning how to cook as a hobby or for a career in food service. The following schools offer education in:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Restaurant Management
  • Hospitality Management
  • Food and Wine Community Education
  • Baking and Pastry
  • Classical/Modern Food Preparation and Restaurant Training
  • Food Technology and Dining Services

American River College

American River College in Sacramento is part of the Los Rios Community College District and currently serves around 38,000 students. Those who are interested in cooking can take courses through the culinary arts program, and the present faculty is composed of nine members and three instructional aids. Courses cover topics in regional and ethnic cuisine, baking and food service management. The college also offers a 43-unit certificate in culinary arts and restaurant management, as well as a 17-unit certificate in baking.

Students who would like to earn a degree can pursue an Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management by completing the requirements for the certificate and a general education core. Additional program features include the opportunity to gain hands-on experience by working at the college's student-run Oak Café.

Cabrillo College

Cabrillo College near Santa Cruz in Aptos offers programs in over 70 areas of study to more than 17,000 students. These include 16-credit, entry-level certificate programs in baking, cooking and catering, as well as a 34-credit culinary arts certificate that can be completed in one year.

At the degree level, students can earn an Associate of Science in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management that combines 21-credits of general education with 31 credits of core courses in basic cooking and appetizer and entree preparation. To fulfill the 8-credit elective requirement, students can also pursue topics in cultural and ethnic foods, bread baking, garde manger (cold food preparation) and meat cutting. Instruction is provided by 15 culinary arts faculty and staff members, and aspiring professionals have the opportunity to work in the college's student-run restaurant.

Community classes and workshops are offered through the Cabrillo Extension program, and the recent course schedule included topics in seasonal and ethnic cooking, chocolate making and desserts.

City College of San Francisco

This San Francisco community college offers in excess of 50 academic and 100 occupational programs to more than 34,000 students. Currently, the culinary arts faculty consists of three members, and additional program features include the opportunity to cook in the school's restaurant, The Educated Palate.

The 2-semester, non-credit certificate program offers the option to specialize in food technology and dining services. Through the baking and pastry option, students can also learn how to make croissants, Danish, display cakes and petit fours.

The Classes for Home Cooks program offers for-credit, evening classes in food and fitness, basic cooking and international cuisine. In these classes, serious chefs find out how to operate bread and pasta machines, use food processors and prepare basic sauces and stocks. Unique to the program is the chance to make special occasion dishes for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and Passover. No prerequisites are required, and the credits earned through the home cooks program are transferable to the University of California and California State University systems (Associate of Science).

Students may also be interested in the awards of achievement or associate's degree programs in culinary arts or food service management.

Contra Costa College

Contra Costa College is located in the San Francisco Bay Area in San Pablo and currently enrolls over 7,500 matriculating students. Aspiring professionals can learn how to cook through the college's Culinary Arts Department, where students have access to 10 faculty and staff members. They can also work in the student-run Three Seasons restaurant and attend an annual food and wine event.

Program offerings include a 9.5-unit Certificate of Accomplishment in basic food service, a 53-unit Certificate of Achievement in food preparation and a 49-unit Certificate of Achievement in baking. Students who complete a total of 60 credits, including one of the Certificates of Achievement, can also earn an Associate of Science. Among the notable program features are a study of California cuisine, training in European style desserts and instruction in international cooking for ESL students.

Diablo Valley College

Diablo Valley College is located about 20 miles northeast of Oakland in Pleasant Hill and provides academic services for over 22,000 students. Those in the culinary arts program have the chance to work with an 11-member faculty and practice their skills in the college's pastry shop, deli, restaurant and catering service.

The Hotel and Restaurant Management (Culinary Arts) Department is part of the Business Education Division and offers a 36.5-unit Certificate of Achievement in Baking and Pastry and a 46.5-unit Certificate of Achievement in Culinary Arts.

The Associate of Science in Hospital Studies program allows students to specialize in culinary arts or baking and requires a general education core and 36.5 to 47 credits of major coursework. Training topics associated with the areas of concentration include seasonal fall and spring desserts, garde manger and the identification of fish, meat and poultry.

In addition to the aforementioned programs, the college offers a certificate and an associate's degree in restaurant management.

Fresno City College

The first community college in California was established in Fresno in 1910. Through the Social Sciences Division, students can pursue three certificates in the culinary arts at the basic, intermediate and advanced levels. The foundational program requires 8.5 credits to complete and requires training in food safety and presentation, food service computations and beginning cooking. At the intermediate level, students also take a course in health and nutrition (7.5 credits). In addition to courses in purchasing and supervision, aspiring professionals in the 12-credit advanced program complete a 3-credit food service internship.

Laney College

Laney College in Oakland is the largest of the four schools in the Peralta Community College District and serves over 14,000 students. The college's Career and Technical Education Division includes the 10-member Culinary Arts Department, which offers undergraduate courses, certificates and degrees. Through the department, aspiring cooks can take classes in international cuisine, cake decorating, candy making and catering.

Formal training options include the 16-credit Certificate of Proficiency in Cooking and a 43-credit Baking and Pastry Certificate of Achievement. Students who complete the baking and pastry certificate and fulfill the general education requirements can earn an Associate of Science. In particular, students can learn how to make artisan breads, international pastries or plated desserts. They also have the chance to become familiar with American bistro cooking and analyze meat cuts.

Related program offerings at Laney College include certificate and degree programs in restaurant management.

San Joaquin Delta College

San Joaquin Delta College enrolls nearly 20,000 students at its Stockton campus, and the school offers courses, certificates and a degree in the culinary arts. Course offerings include 1-day cooking workshops, where adult education students can learn how to decorate cakes and prepare tamales or tiramisu. For-credit courses, available through the culinary arts program, cover topics in baking and global gastronomies.

Formal training is provided by two full-time faculty members, and program offerings include a 26-unit Baking and Pastry Certificate of Achievement and a 47-unit Culinary Arts Certificate of Achievement. Students can also pursue an Associate of Science program in culinary arts or baking that covers topics in garnishing and European pastries.

Santa Rosa Junior College

Santa Rosa Junior College serves over 28,000 students at its main campus in Santa Rosa, a second campus in Petaluma and additional centers in Windsor and Forestville. Through the community education program, aspiring home cooks can pursue a variety of courses and workshops, and current topics include those in food and wine, ethnic and regional cuisines, sushi making and vegetarian cooking.

Certificate and degree programs are offered through the Culinary Arts Department, where students can earn a 17.5-unit certificate in baking and pastry, a 24-unit certificate in culinary arts or an Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts. Instruction takes place under the direction of 15 faculty members in the department's new 22,000-square-foot Culinary Arts Center. Hands-on experience can be acquired through the Culinary Café and Bakery.

Along with the culinary arts programs, Santa Rosa Junior College offers certificate programs in front- of-the-house operations, dining room service and restaurant management.

Shasta College

Shasta College in Redding serves over 9,000 students and offers 79 degree and 46 certificate programs. The college's cooking programs are affiliated with The Bistro, a full-service restaurant, and the present faculty is composed of eight members. Courses cover a variety of topics, including wine and food pairings, baking, gourmet cooking and menu planning.

The college offers several hospitality certificates with an emphasis on the culinary arts, such as a 4-7-unit baking certificate, a 15-unit line cook certificate and a 44-unit certificate in hospitality management with a concentration in culinary arts. Students can also pursue an Associate of Science in Hospitality Management with a culinary arts concentration.

Additional degree and certificate programs are available in dining room staffing or management, winemaking and marketing, bartending and restaurant management.

School Comparison: At a Glance

School Name School Type & Setting Cooking Classes/Programs Offered Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)
American River College 2-year, public; large suburb Culinary Arts Courses,
Introductory Baking Certificate,
Culinary Arts/Restaurant Management Certificate,
Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts/Restaurant Management
$1,104 in-state;
$8,712 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
Cabrillo College 2-year, public; midsize suburb Community Education Cooking Classes,
Entry-Level Certificate (cook skills, catering or baking),
Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Certificate of Achievement,
Associate of Science in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management
$1,270 in-state;
$7,462 out-of-state (undergraduate);*
City College of San Francisco 2-year, public; large city Classes for Home Cooks,
Non-Credit Food Technology and Dining Services Certificate,
Non-Credit Baking and Pastry Certificate
$1,696 in-state;
$10,372 out-of-state (undergraduate);*
Contra Costa College 2-year, public; large suburb Culinary Arts Courses,
Certificate of Accomplishment in Basic Food Service,
Certificate of Achievement in Classical/Modern Food Preparation and Restaurant Training,
Certificate of Achievement in Pastry and Bakery Skills,
Associate of Science in Classical/Modern Food Preparation and Restaurant Training,
Associate of Science in Pastry and Baking Skills
$1,312 in-state;
$8,564 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
Diablo Valley College 2-year, public; large suburb Culinary Arts Certificate of Achievement,
Baking and Pastry Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Hospitality Studies
$1,312 in-state;
$8,564 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
Fresno City College 2-year, public; large city Certificate of Completion (basic, intermediate or advanced cooking) $1,304 in-state;
$7,49 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
Laney College 2-year, public; large city Culinary Arts Courses,
Certificate of Proficiency in Cooking,
Baking and Pastry Certificate of Achievement,
Associate of Science in Baking and Pastry
$1,254 in-state;
$7,806 out-of-state (undergraduate)*
San Joaquin Delta College 2-year, public; large city Adult Education,
Culinary Arts Courses,
Culinary Arts Certificate of Achievement,
Baking and Pastry Certificate of Achievement,
Associate in Science in Culinary Arts,
Associate in Science in Baking and Pastry

$1,288 in-state;
$8,848 out-of-state (undergraduate);*
Santa Rosa Junior College 2-year, public; midsize city Food and Wine Community Education Classes,
Culinary Arts Certificate of Achievement,
Baking and Pastry Skills Certificate,
Associate of Arts in Culinary Arts
$1,328 in-state;
$8,174 out-of-state (undergraduate);*
Shasta College 2-year, public; rural Culinary Arts Courses,
Hospitality Certificate with Culinary Arts Emphasis,
Hospitality Management Certificate with Culinary Arts Concentration,
Line Cook Certificate,
Associate of Science in Hospitality Management with Culinary Arts Concentration
$1,185 in-state;
$6,801 out-of-state (undergraduate)*

Sources: *NCES College Navigator

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