Cooking Classes in Philadelphia with School Overviews

Sep 04, 2018

There are several schools within 40 miles of downtown Philadelphia that have culinary arts courses. Read an overview of three schools' programs, requirements, and admission info and find out which school is the right one for you.

Philadelphia Schools with Cooking Classes

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), an increasing number of professional chefs and head cooks are pursuing formal training options at community colleges and four-year schools. In Pennsylvania, food establishments must have at least one supervisor on staff who is certified in food safety and sanitation, and in light of this requirement, some programs offer an exam preparation course that has been approved by the National Restaurant Association or a similar organization. While the programs featured below have not been accredited by the American Culinary Federation, certification from the organization can help commercial and pastry chefs advance in the field. In addition to the program summaries, students will find a table with useful school facts and a paragraph about one other community college in the Philadelphia area that offers cooking classes.

  • The Community College of Philadelphia, located right in the downtown, is the largest public school in the city and offers professional and transferable degree programs. These include an associate degree in the culinary arts.
  • Drexel University, also located downtown, is an international research school and one of the 15 largest private universities in America. One of the university's outstanding features is its cooperative education program that can help students acquire real-life work experience, including those pursuing an undergraduate major or minor in the culinary arts.
  • Montgomery County Community College has three main sites: Central Campus in Blue Bell, West Campus in Pottstown, and the Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale, which is located 30 miles from downtown Philadelphia. According to the school website, over two-thirds of students who have completed career training programs have found jobs in their industry, which may include graduates of the associate degree program in the culinary arts.

Comparison of Schools

Future chefs can use the following table to weigh the cost of their training at the two public colleges and private university featured in this resource. Key information about admissions, financial aid and other factors can also be found in this table.

Community College of Philadelphia Drexel University Montgomery County Community College
School Type Two-year; public Four-year; private not-for-profit Two-year; public
Total Enrollment (2017) 17,296 24,190 10,392
Campus Setting Large city Large city Large suburb
Tuition and Fees (2017-2018) $5,142 in-district
$10,284 in-state
$15,426 out-of-state
$52,002 $5,730 in-district
$10,350 in-state
$14,970 out-of-state
% of First-Year Students Receiving Some Form of Financial Aid (2016-2017) 85% 99% 64%
Acceptance Rate (2017) N/A - open admissions policy 79% N/A - open admissions policy
Retention Rate (2016-2017) 59% of full-time students
43% of part-time students
89% of full-time students
67% of part-time students
63% of full-time students
49% of part-time students
Graduation Rate (2017) 13% (21% transfer-out rate) 71% (N/A - transfer-out rate) 21% (15% transfer-out rate)

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Community College of Philadelphia

Culinary arts faculty members who have been approved by the American Culinary Federation can help students acquire the supervised employment they need to obtain apprenticeship status. The college also offers a single-session ServSafe Food Protection Manager class for chefs and other related professionals looking to prepare for the certification exam from the National Restaurant Association.

Associate of Applied Science in the Culinary Arts

This 65-credit program consists of general education, commercial cooking, and hospitality courses and 400 hours of work experience. During the first year of the program, beginning chefs are introduced to the basic principles and practices associated with food service. Students learn how to prepare and present large quantities of food in a safe and sanitary manner. Through a course in baking and pastry making, they also learn how to identify and measure ingredients found in breads, decorated cakes and pastries.

In the second year, students are taught how to prepare a variety of cold foods, including hors d'oeuvres, salads, sausages, pates and terrines. They also acquire the technical skills needed to create fruit and vegetable carvings and ice sculptures. Additional course topics include American regional and international cuisines, such as those from Asia, Latin America, the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.

Students who successfully complete the courses in advanced food production and hospitality supervision may be eligible for the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation's nutrition and supervisory certification exams.

Drexel University

The Center for Hospitality and Sport Management offers undergraduate majors in culinary arts & science and hospitality management, with the option to earn a combined Bachelor of Science/Master of Business Administration degree. Undergraduate minors are also available in culinary arts, food science and food studies. Admission requirements include an essay, letters of recommendation and standardized test scores.

Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts and Science

This program allows students to complete a minor in business, marketing or entrepreneurship. The coursework covers topics in kitchen techniques, food styling and a variety of different cuisines. Instruction takes place in the program's modern facilities, and juniors have the opportunity to complete a six-month cooperative work experience with places like the French Laundry, Bouchon Bakery, Garces Restaurant Group or another high-profile company.

The program requires 185 credits and includes additional coursework in math and natural sciences. The curriculum provides a combination of hands-on instruction to complement the classroom work. Required courses include professional baking, butchery and beverage management.

Minor in Culinary Arts

The minor in culinary arts may be of interest to students who are majoring in nutrition and foods, culinary science and hospitality, as well as those who are pursuing studies in communications or photography. The program requires a minimum of 24 credits of coursework, and in addition to culinary basics, courses cover American, French and Italian cuisine. Students can also choose from a substantial number of electives, which can provide opportunities to learn about Chinese and Indian cuisine, food photography, kitchen gardens and pastry making.

Montgomery County Community College

The Culinary Arts Institute in Lansdale, which opened in 2013, offers associate degree and certificate programs in culinary arts and baking and pastry. Both degree programs include all components that students need in order to achieve certification from the American Culinary Federation. The school has articulation agreements with Drexel University and Johnson & Wales University for students who are interested in transferring.

Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts

The culinary arts associate program requires 68 credits of coursework and includes concentrations in professional culinary arts or baking and pastry arts. In addition to culinary studies, students also take courses in business math, English, public speaking, science and writing.

The core coursework covers standard topics like food sanitation and service, menu design and pricing, hospitality and nutrition. Each concentration also includes three sequential courses in either the culinary or pastry arts. In addition to becoming familiar with traditional cooking practices, both culinary and baking specialists are taught how to choose products and design a menu according to an employer's specifications. They also learn how to prepare ethnic and regional recipes while developing advanced presentation and production skills.

During the second year, students have the opportunity to participate in two cooperative work experiences. This program can lead to positions as a banquet, garde manger or sous chef, kitchen manager or lead cook.

Other School Options

Bucks County Community College, located in Newtown, PA, also offers a certificate in culinary arts and a chef apprentice program with specializations in foods and pastries.

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