By BCS Staff
With some of the best culinary schools in the nation, New Jersey is a fantastic place to start an exciting career in the culinary arts. According to the National Restaurant Association, the New Jersey restaurant industry brings in $18.1 billion dollars in sales each year. There are over 348,300 foodservice and restaurant jobs in New Jersey, and that number is expected to rise by 6.9% by 2029.
Recognizing the importance of getting a quality education in the culinary arts, we created a list of the top 10 culinary schools and programs in the state. Schools included in our list have a solid reputation in the industry based on our research, with many accredited by the American Culinary Federation. We looked for schools with hands-on learning opportunities and a variety of instruction methods. We included schools that offer degree programs as well as those offering certifications.
Middlesex County College features an AAS in Restaurant/Food Service Management in addition to several different certificate programs for those interested in a career in the Culinary Arts. Students in the AAS program receive hands-on professional training and spend their final semester in a paid externship. There are articulation agreements in place with several four-year institutions for graduates who want additional education. The AAS degree can be completed in about two years, while certificates take about 14 months. All certificate coursework can be applied to the AAS program.
The Ocean County Center for Culinary Arts-Ocean County Vocational-Technical School offers a unique 10-month program at the Atlantis Golf Course in Little Egg Harbor. Students receive classroom instruction and culinary skills training at this newly remodeled restaurant. Students learn farm to table concepts and environmentally conscious practices. Courses cover sanitation, commercial baking and food preparation, table skills, and dining room management. This top culinary program teaches principles of ecology to help reduce the environmental impact of the culinary industry.
Bergen Community College offers a one-year academic certificate in Culinary Arts. Students must complete 35 credit hours to be awarded the certificate. Coursework covers international cuisine, baking, computer application, menu planning, and food preparation. Bergen has two kitchen laboratories on campus where students learn and practice culinary techniques. The Bergen Room and Ender Hall Cafeteria are two student-operated dining facilities located on campus. Students gain valuable work experience in both fine dining and cafeteria-style settings. Classes are offered during the day as well as in the evenings to accommodate those with a busy schedule.
Warren County Technical School offers a four-year culinary arts and hospitality program. Over the course of the program, students learn and practice management, nutrition, food purchasing, and of course, cooking and baking, among other things. During this time, students also gain real-world experience by working events and in the Knights Cafe on campus.
County College of Morris offers an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts. CCM features individualized kitchen workstations for students to gain hands-on experience and the opportunity to practice dining room and food/beverage management. Courses include food as art, restaurant operations, and human resources in the hospitality industry. Courses in international foods are offered in Italian, Chinese, Latin, and American cuisine. CCM is a member of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and the American Culinary Federation.
The Culinary Education Center features a student-run restaurant offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner services throughout the week. The bakery features delicious cakes and treats made by pastry students. Exciting internship opportunities are available at locations such as Atlantic City and Disney World. Coursework covers both beginning and advanced cooking techniques as well as wines, buffets, and a la cart dining. Graduates have gone on to be successful cooks including Emily Chapman, winner of “Chopped,” and Drew Araneo, named a “Top Chef” by Inside Jersey.
Mercer County Community College offers a variety of culinary associate’s degrees. These include Culinary Arts/Culinary Arts, Culinary Arts/Pastry Arts, and Culinology, among others. Students learn principles of cooking and baking, food presentation, and safety and sanitation. This top culinary school has two culinary labs so students have the opportunity to learn in a state-of-the-art environment. The Viking Café and Latitude 40 Degrees are both student-run dining establishments on campus that allow students to gain valuable work experience in preparation and servicing.
The Culinary Arts Center at Rowan College offers several different programs in the culinary arts. The 19,000 square foot training facility teaches students cutting edge culinary skills and techniques that make graduates extremely marketable in the field. The AAS and AS degree programs in Culinary Arts can be completed in two years and include a practicum experience. Graduates of the AS program are prepared to transfer to a four-year school for additional culinary training. The AAS in Pastry Arts trains students to be pastry professionals working in a variety of settings. Students in the Certificate program complete 27 credit hours of culinary coursework, including a practicum experience. A student-run restaurant operates on campus and is open during the school year, allowing culinary students to showcase their skills and techniques to their peers and the general public.
Hudson County Community College offers exemplary culinary programs accredited by the American Culinary Federation Educational Foundation. Students can elect to complete a one-year certificate in Culinary Arts, or pursue an Associate degree in Culinary Arts. The Culinary Arts Institute features a 72,000 square foot facility offering state-of-the-art kitchens and classrooms. Kitchen labs accommodate up to 16 students at a time, guaranteeing individualized attention during training. This top culinary school has an ice sculpting room, fish and butchery room, mock hospitality suite, and bakery lab available to students who are interested in specialty areas. The facilities at CAI have been featured on TLC’s “Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker.”
Atlantic Cape Community College operates the Academy of Culinary Arts, offering a variety of American Culinary Federation accredited culinary programs. This top culinary school educates more students in the state than any other culinary school. Students are engaged throughout the program with a mix of classroom training, kitchen laboratory expedience, and externship experience. ACCC operates an on-campus restaurant that is open to both students and the community. An organic greenhouse and herb garden are located on campus, which provides the opportunity for students to learn about planting and harvesting a variety of fruits and vegetables. ACCC is affiliated with the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation and the National Restaurant Association.