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Culinary Arts


Culinary Arts

Fast Facts

National annual wage range:
$23,630 to $76,2801
Tuition and fees:
Program length:
33 weeks

Get a Taste of a New Career in Culinary Arts

The culinary world offers exciting possibilities with new flavors, ingredients and pairings constantly being discovered. If you have a love of fresh ingredients, a passion for tasty eats or a desire to bring people together around delicious meals, culinary arts might be the place for you to pursue a new career.

Our Culinary Arts program is a place where you can explore and learn new skills that could help you prepare to pursue that career.

Chris dreamed of being a chef. Early on, he learned that when the world hits, it hits hard. He was kicked out of his house and became homeless and hungry. But the opportunity came along to start the culinary program at Virginia College, and everything changed.

Prepare to become a chef in as little as 36 weeks.

How long is culinary school? You can begin your journey to a culinary career in as little as 36 weeks through the Virginia College Culinary Arts diploma/certificate program. No previous experience is required to enroll in our culinary arts classes. You just need a love of food and a desire to learn.

We foster a supportive, creative environment where you can practice new skills and study the foundational principles of culinary techniques. Our culinary arts courses are a training ground for the real world. Our hands-on cooking classes can help you learn to collaborate with others and work independently in a professional kitchen setting.

Chef Training Taught in the Kitchen from Day One — Culinary Arts Classes

From the very first day of class, you can benefit from hands-on training working with real ingredients and commercial grade equipment. Our teaching kitchens simulate actual job environments. You can learn not only the art of preparing delicious meals but also the science of cooking and baking.

We limit our class sizes so that you can receive personalized attention and mentoring. Our instructors are trained chefs who are experienced in regional and global cuisines. They can help you develop an understanding and appreciation for different types of tastes and cuisines.

Harry, Graduate

I decided to go back to school and pursue my passion in cooking. I always loved to cook for my family. Virginia College was a blessing. I idolize my instructors who were there for me and not only helped me develop the skills, but allowed me to recognize that what I do is an art.

Harry, Graduate

Learn by doing in our culinary and pastry courses.

As the famous chef Julia Child once said, “Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy.” We agree, so it’s our goal to give you a solid foundation in culinary arts while developing your sense of creativity and style. Trial and error is an important part of chef training. We invite you to explore and experiment as you seek to master simple to complex recipes.

Our Culinary Arts program offers practical training that follows the guidelines of the American Culinary Federation. Our curriculum is designed to prepare you for a culinary arts career in a short amount of time. You will learn basic culinary math skills and measurements and will be introduced to the basics of ingredient purchasing, menu planning and hospitality management for a well-rounded culinary education.

As part of earning your Culinary Arts diploma/certificate, you will complete ServSafe Essentials training and take the certification exam to qualify to work in a commercial kitchen.

What You’ll Learn About in Cooking and Pastry Courses

  • Knife and fabrication (butchering) skills
  • Healthy cooking and dietary restrictions
  • Regional and global flavors and cooking techniques
  • Charcuterie, curing and cheese
  • Wine pairings
  • Banquet production
  • Fruit and ice carving
  • Stock, sauce and soup production
  • Baking and pastry arts
  • Dry and moist heat cooking methods
  • Plating techniques

Sharpen Your Culinary Skills with Real-World Experience

As a career-focused culinary school, we go beyond supporting you in cooking labs. We help you secure an externship, which offers the experience of a real job at establishments such as a catering firm, restaurant or resort. This on-the-job experience complements what you’ve learned in class. You can experience firsthand what it's like working with other cooks, chefs and beverage professionals.

Chris, Graduate

The on-the-job experience I got definitely helped me. I have my own apartment. I live in a great city with many opportunities. And I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without Virginia College.

Chris, Graduate

Gain experience working in an actual culinary job environment.

Externships are often a great way to make connections and find jobs in the culinary arts industry. We have externship and job placement relationships with a number of partners including:

  • Biltmore Estate
  • Capella Hotel Group
  • Commander's Palace
  • Xanterra
  • Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center
  • Beau Rivage
  • Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort
  • Red Mountain Resort
  • Southeast Retail Baker's Association

Perfecting the craft of creating truly inspiring meals can take time. After earning your diploma/certificate in Culinary Arts, you will be eligible to pursue a number of positions in the foodservice industry. Positions such as line cook or sous chef are great starting positions where you can refine your skills and learn from more experienced chefs.

Chef Dusty Cooper, Culinard Program Director, Virginia College in Baton Rouge, talks about how Culinard produces quality chefs in a short period of time.

What Are Culinary Arts?

The culinary arts are about more than food preparation and cooking techniques. They combine the science of cooking with the art of flavors to create balanced and delicious meals. The culinary arts are influenced by global and local cuisines as well as cultural and diet trends.

The culinary arts are always changing.

Just as there are trends in fashion, hairstyles and cars, there are trends in food and cooking. Culinary college can help you learn what’s behind the latest trends and develop the skills to adapt to changing tastes.

Inside a Chef’s Job

Chefs are involved in almost every area of the kitchen. They test out new recipes, direct kitchen staff and oversee food preparation. A chef’s job description and duties can include:

  • Planning and preparing menus
  • Selecting ingredients and stocking inventory
  • Coordinating dessert menus with the pastry chef
  • Supervising and recruiting kitchen staff
  • Demonstrating plating and planning food presentation
  • Enforcing kitchen safety standards
  • Controlling and estimating costs

The Makings of a Great Chef

If you notice textures and tastes or if you love combining ingredients to create new flavors, then you might have the natural traits of a great chef. Great chefs typically possess both technical and creative skills. If they advance to head chef or master chef positions, the ability to multitask and complete administrative tasks like managing inventory, controlling costs and managing employees can be helpful skills.

How to become a chef

A chef has to know how to wield a knife, how foods complement each other and how to create new recipes and plan menus. Practice, passion, formal training and natural ability are all ingredients of becoming a good chef. If you want to pursue a culinary career, the Virginia College Culinary Arts diploma/certificate program could be a step forward for you.

Culinary Arts Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the national annual wage range for chefs and head cooks is between $22,870 and $76,280 per year. 1 Individual salaries will vary based on experience, location of employment, and the specific job title and duties being performed.

Take the First Step Today Toward a Fun and Fulfilling Career!

Start your journey to becoming a chef. Fill out our information form or give us a call to learn more.

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This program is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation.

Programmatic Disclosure Information

1 The median annual wage for chefs and head cooks was $43,180 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $23,630, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $76,280. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Chefs and Head Cooks, on the Internet at (visited October 19, 2017). National long-term projections and salary averages may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth or any particular salary.

The College makes no representation, promise or guarantee that completion of this program either assures passage of any certification examination or acceptance by any state board. Prospective and current students, as well as graduates, are responsible for researching and understanding all examination, registration or licensure requirements in any state in which they seek to become registered, licensed or employed. Virginia College does not guarantee employment or career advancement.

Campus-Specific Consumer Information