Top 10 Best Culinary Schools in Tennessee 2021

culinary schools in tennessee

By BCS Staff
January 2021

Tennessee is a well known tourism hotspot with over 10,556 eating and drinking establishments throughout the state. There are currently about 294,800 restaurant and food service jobs with an additional 31,000 jobs expected by 2026. There will be an increase in demand for highly educated and trained culinary professionals to fulfill this need. Earning a degree or credential in the field is a great way to stand out and obtain position in this exciting field.

Ranking Methodology

To compile our ranking of the 10 best culinary schools in Tennessee, we started by putting together a list of any and all two- and four-year colleges, culinary institutes, and technical schools offering degrees and certificates in the culinary arts. We included only those culinary programs which are accredited by a legitimate culinary-related accrediting body. We then used an holistic approach to narrow down our list to just those culinary programs offering hands-on training, professional faculty and staff members, and a variety of degrees, diplomas, and certifications.

Top 10 Best Culinary Schools in Tennessee 2017

#10. Glencliff High School


Glencliff High School features an exceptional culinary program that is one of the most popular vocational programs in the area. This award-winning program has had students compete in culinary competitions at the national level. Students have the opportunity to apply their skills and techniques twice a month in the Southern Tea Room where they get to create a menu, develop a budget, prepare the lunch, and serve to faculty. Students are also provided the opportunity to participate in job shadowing opportunities, career fairs, and internships.

#9. Austin Peay State University


Austin Peay State University offers an undergraduate Certificate in Accelerated Culinary Arts. Consisting of just 12 credit hours, this certificate program prepares students for careers in the culinary arts. Four courses are required and cover food safety, nutrition, cost control, and the basics of either baking or culinary arts. 

#8. University of Tennessee


University of Tennessee is home to the UT Culinary & Catering Program. This full-time, 12-week program prepares students for careers in restaurants, hotels, catering, food trucks, and other hospitality locales. Students are trained in a commercial kitchen, where they’ll learn from upwards of 15 industry professionals. The program is intense and challenging, but exposes students to real-life scenarios such as catering large events, operating a food truck during a lunch rush, and creating a restaurant menu, among other things. Upon completion of the program, students may choose to continue on to pursue their chef’s certification. 

#7. Middle Tennessee State University


Middle Tennessee State University features a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Food Science. The degree focuses on nutrition and how to select and prepare nutritious foods. Students have the opportunity to prepare food in a newly renovated food lab with state-of-the-art equipment. Area hospitals and nursing homes often request Nutrition and Food Science students and graduates work in their facilities. Graduates have also gone on to work with professional athletes to address their specific nutritional needs.

#6. Southwest Tennessee Community College


Southwest Tennessee Community College features an Associate of Applied Science degree in Hospitality Management with a concentration in Culinary Arts. This top culinary school features a state-of-the-art kitchen and classroom so students are always working with the latest in culinary technology. This 60-credit hour program features a wide variety of courses including ice carving, professional catering, management, and nutrition. The culinary program at STCC has several partnerships with exciting companies offering internship opportunities. Disney is one of the most popular of these partnerships. Graduates of this program are well prepared to become entry-level chefs in a variety of settings including restaurants, resorts, and hotels.

#5. Chattanooga State Community College


Chattanooga State Community College features an Associate of Applied Science degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management with a concentration in the Culinary Arts. The program prepares students to work in restaurants, hotels, catering operations, and health care facilities. This 60-credit hour program can be completed in two years. Coursework includes ice carving, management, catering, legal aspects, supervision, and management. An internship opportunity is provided as part of the program to allow students to gain work experience before entering the field on their own.

#4. Nossi College of Art


Nossi School of Art in Nashville offers an Associate of Occupational Studies Culinary Arts degree. The two-year program is completely overseen by industry professionals, including a number of successful professional chefs. Students complete a series of 17 courses on topics such as European and Mediterranean Cuisine, Baking Basics, and Restaurant Technology and Cost Control. An internship and a capstone project are also required to complete the program. 

#3. Nashville State Community College


Nashville State Community College features an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts that is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Students learn to think in a creative manner and work as team in a professional kitchen environment. This top culinary school has a hands on program where students develop and apply their culinary skills. Students learn how to create a menu, develop a budget, use cost control and inventory control measures, and prepare foods in a sanitary environment. Two 300-clock hour paid internships are part of the curriculum allowing students professional work opportunity before graduation.

#2. Pellissippi State Community College


Pellissippi State Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts. Ideal for students who love food and entrepreneurship, this culinary degree program provides students with fundamental business and management training. Uniquely, Pellissippi State Community College’s culinary arts program is a cohort program, meaning students begin, progress through, and graduate from the program all together. Required courses to complete the degree include Garde Manger, Breakfast Cookery, and Introduction to Business, to name but three. 

#1. Rel Maples Institute for Culinary Arts at Walters State Community College


The Rel Maples Institute for Culinary Arts at Walters State Community College is a top culinary school featuring a variety of culinary degrees and certifications that are accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Rel Maples Institute of Culinary Arts includes a 2,100 square foot facility where students have access to a state of the art kitchen, bake sop, demo kitchen and dining room. Students create menus, prepare food, and serve at special catered around campus. The program features hands on learning while in the program and during their internship experience. Graduates are prepared for career in baking, food service, restaurant management, and non-commercial food service.

Related Rankings: 

50 Best Culinary Schools in the U.S. 
Top 10 Best Culinary Schools in Kentucky
Top 10 Best Culinary Schools in Georgia