United States

10 of the Best Culinary Schools in Florida

by Jessie Frizzell  |  Published April 16, 2024

Following its post-Covid tourism recovery and with growing numbers relocating to the Sunshine State, Florida has emerged as a gastronomic centre and is now home to some of the best culinary schools in America.

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Best known for its lush tropical setting and sandy beaches, Florida has long been a desirable destination. The state also has the fastest-growing restaurant market in the country and as a result is a highly competitive place to work as a chef. Following suit, Florida now has some of the top culinary institutions anywhere in the US. The team at TravelMag have looked into them all and ranked them based on popularity, quality of program, and post-graduation hiring prospects. Here are our ten top picks. 

Johnson Wales University Culinary Institute 

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At the Johnson & Wales Culinary Institute, students are taught by distinguished industry professionals, with a focus on training and preparing them to work in an industrial kitchen. They also depart with connections to the university’s network of nearly 50,000 graduates. If the rigor of the program isn’t persuasive enough, Johnson & Wales University also have a 94.4% post-graduation hiring rate, meaning that almost every student who graduates has employment six months later. 

Miami Culinary Institute at Miami Dade

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This school’s campus enjoys a prime waterside setting near the Port of Miami. They offer a two-year associate’s degree that sends graduates off with the skills and knowledge to thrive in famously competitive industry. The Institute has a LEED-certified facility and focuses on food sustainability and the importance of food sourcing within the culinary arts. The Institute prides itself on sending graduates off with a robust set of skills and cutting-edge culinary knowledge. Plus, who doesn’t want to go to school in one of the most exciting cities in America? 

Mariano Moreno Culinary Institute

With 50 years of experience, Mariano Moreno Culinary Institute is an exceptional place to train as a chef. The program was originally founded in Argentina and many of its principles were inspired by Latin American cuisine. The instructors have backgrounds in traditional European techniques as well as Latin American haute cuisine, providing students with a diverse knowledge base. The final requirement in this course is completing an externship, with students positioned at a local establishment or sent to work with one of the school’s many international affiliates in Argentina, Mexico, France, and beyond. The international influence of this program makes it an incredibly unique place to study.

Keiser University for Culinary Arts

Keiser University for Culinary Arts has three Florida campuses. Their program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation and teaches students the required industry standards for working in a professional kitchen. Their hands-on approach in the classroom gets students prepared for a long-lasting career in the industry. Their externship requirement matches students with a local restaurant or hotel, ensuring that they leave with professional experience on their resume.

Lincoln Culinary Institute (West Palm Beach)

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Taught in a European-style kitchen, students at the Lincoln Culinary Institute come away prepared for the realities of working professionally. Their International Pastry and Baking program focuses on the sweeter side of the job specialising in desserts and confectionaries. They also offer night courses, making the program more accessible for those who work or study during the day. There’s an Advanced Culinary Arts program that’s geared towards those whose goal is to reach the ranks of Head Chef. The institute also requires that students take part in a 20-week externship program. 

McFatter Technical College

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The Culinary Arts program at McFatter Technical College teaches students in commercial-grade kitchens. This program is accredited by the American Culinary Education Foundation Accrediting Commission and ensures that those who complete it are fully prepared for a career in the food service industry. Additionally, McFatter works in affiliation with Florida State University, and any student wishing to continue their education can apply credits to another area of study at the university. What better way to improve your knowledge than to pair it with more education in a complementary field?

Sheridan Technical College

Sheridan Technical College is located in the Floridian city of Hollywood. This program is accredited by the American Culinary Education Foundation Accrediting Commission, leaving students confident that they can go out and excel in the field of culinary arts. Not only that, but the college awards graduates with an associate’s degree, putting them in an even better position to succeed. Sheridan Technical College also received the ACFEF AC Exemplary Program Award, making its name recognisable nationwide in the food service industry.

Gulf Coast State College

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Gulf Coast State College is located in the seaside oasis of Panama City. This program is a great fit for anyone looking for opportunities to work one-on-one with the instructors, with small class sizes allowing for a more personalised learning experience. Moreover, students often form stronger working relationships with instructors in these settings. The program at Gulf Coast State is one of the most affordable on this list, helping make it accessible to anyone looking to pursue a career in the food world. Students who complete the program receive a certificate in culinary arts.

Valencia College

Valencia College’s Walt Disney World® Center for Hospitality and Culinary Arts has been operating in Florida for over 20 years. Students can choose from an Associate in Science and Culinary Management or an Associate of Science in Baking and Pastry Management. Due to the college’s proximity to Disney World, many of the courses are taught by chefs who run restaurants in the park.  And where else can you say you learned to cook from the head chef at Cinderella’s Castle?

Florida State College

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The program at Florida State College provides students with a comprehensive body of knowledge on both culinary arts and the food service industry as a whole. They run a degree course in culinary management for those keen to run a restaurant as well as work as a chef. They also offer a technical certificate in Culinary Arts for students wanting to remain purely on the culinary side of things. Both programs incorporate hospitality training with an emphasis on leadership and communication, giving students a well-rounded education after completion of the program.