Top Cooking Schools in San Francisco

Celebrity chefs have always been appealing with their larger than life personas and their fabulous gastronomic creations. From Julia Child to Wolfgang Puck to Emeril Lagasse, these chefs are just as just as recognizable as Oprah Winfrey and Paris Hilton. The popularity of The Food Network and Bravo’s Top Chef have also fed into people’s fantasies about becoming the next big thing in the culinary arts forum. As San Francisco is one of the country’s biggest restaurant Meccas, it goes to show that there are great culinary schools in the City By the Bay. Here are three great San Francisco schools for both the aspiring professional chef, and the budding amateur kitchen afficionado who wants to wow at the next dinner party or holiday meal.

The creme de la creme of professional culinary schools in San Francisco, and perhaps the western United States is the California Culinary Academy. The Culinary Academy has a twenty-five year reputation for training chefs, managers and culinary professionals. They train students in the Le Cordon Blue Culinary Arts program, the Baking and Pastry Arts program, and Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality & Restaurant Management Program.

The sixty-week Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts program will prepare students to not only offer their creativity in the kitchens of top restaurants, but also prepare them to be effective kitchen managers. The Cordon Bleu program at San Francisco’s Culinary Academy includes professional instruction that emphasizes all aspects of culinary arts – from its history to its diversity.

Student chefs learn how to create every course, from appetizers to desserts and learn valuable skills in kitchen and restaurant business management, kitchen sanitation and hygiene, safety procedures, cost control, human resource management, and styles of table service at the end of the classroom learning, they offer an on-site 12-week externship to help enhance kitchen skills and to focus on a career path. If you’d rather focus on the sweet-tooth, there is a thirty-week program in baking and pastry arts. Students learn everything from dough basic to candies and even grand chocolate and sugar showpieces.

Students also learn restaurant business foundations that are taught within the Cordon Bleu program. The California Culinary Academy in San Francisco can be contacted at 800-739-9700 or online at

For a school that not only has a professional training program but also caters to kitchen amateurs who want to perfect their technique or want to add an exciting new cuisine to their repertoire, try Tante Marie’s Cooking School. Tante Marie’s is different in that it is a small private school and is able to offer individual attention. While their emphasis is on mastering the important culinary techniques, and understanding the theories behind food, nutrition and taste, they also believe that a good chef needs to learn how good food should taste! Tante Marie offers a six-month professional cooking class that gives the foundation for a career in food and cooking. Upon completion, there is a four-week externship working in a Bay Area restaurant. They also offer individual workshops and courses to teach the amateur chef varied kitchen skills and cooking techniques. Some examples are cake decorating, learning the basics, Indian cooking, and Country French cooking. Tante Marie is located in downtown San Francisco and can be contacted at 415.788.6699 or on the web at

And finally, if you have a budding young kitchen star in you home, you should try Apron Strings. Apron Strings is a safe environment where kids can learn to cook and bake. They offer such programs as an after school program, Saturday morning workshops, a culinary camp, even private lessons. This can also be a great place to have your kid’s birthday party! For the adults, there are programs for them and even “Big Kid” corporate team building kitchen activities. But the real focus here is on teaching kids age 10 and older to love cooking and baking. They use a hand ons approach and try to encourage a foundation for a lifelong love of food and cooking. Each class or workshop ends with a reward – eating your efforts! Apron Strings is located in Noe Valley in San Francisco and can be contacted by phone (415) 550-7976 or at

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