Culinary Schools and Colleges

Turn your cooking or baking talents into a new career.

Culinary schools across Canada specialize in helping food enthusiasts like you become skilled professionals in an industry built on delighting people with creative presentation, delicious flavours, and warm hospitality. They understand what's involved in becoming someone who can work at a high level within commercial kitchens or bakeries. And they tailor their training programs toward the goal of ensuring that students get the opportunity to begin their culinary journeys with plenty of confidence.

Why Going to Culinary School Can Be a Smart Move

Food is at the very heart of many Canadian cultural traditions. And just about everyone enjoys being treated to a fine meal prepared by chefs or cooks who have the skills and creativity to produce something that most of us wouldn't be able to create ourselves. Good food simply feeds the soul. That's a big reason why we now celebrate so many of today's master chefs.

Plus, the restaurant industry alone demonstrates how important professional food services are to Canadians and the overall economy. Check out these numbers:

  • Over 1.2 million people are directly employed by Canada's restaurant industry, which generates about $75 billion every year in sales (that’s four percent of the nation's economic activity).*
  • Over 40 percent of surveyed restaurant operators across the country have experienced an impact from a shortage of skilled food service workers.*
  • In British Columbia alone, restaurants get about 2.7 million visits each day.*
  • Cities like Vancouver and provinces like Ontario are considered world-class food destinations. It's why they are great places for going to culinary school. Vancouver, for example, is home to hundreds of restaurants serving at least 35 different types of ethnic cuisine in numerous creative ways.**

Of course, restaurants are only part of the story. As an aspiring chef or culinary arts enthusiast, you can find appealing opportunities in hotels, healthcare facilities, cruise ships, and many other types of settings.

How Your Culinary Arts Career Might Progress

One of the great things about going into the culinary arts is that it offers a clear system of career advancement. In most cases, the roles of people who work in commercial kitchens are well-defined, and the career ladder is easy to understand. Here are some of the most common culinary roles:

  • Junior chef (or commis)—One of the entry-level roles in which you help prepare ingredients, receive deliveries, clean and sanitize kitchen items and equipment, and perform other vital tasks
  • Chef de partie (or station chef)—Typically responsible for cooking or preparing food at a particular kitchen station such as one related to sautéed items, grilled foods, fried items, baked goods, soups, vegetables, cold items, or pastries and decorative touches
  • Sous chef—Usually a position reserved for someone who has already mastered the above roles and is ready to move on to assisting in kitchen management and overseeing all food production when the head chef is away
  • Executive chef (or chef de cuisine or head chef)—The highest role in a commercial kitchen, involving planning menus, purchasing food, training and supervising other cooks and chefs, overseeing food quality, and ensuring compliance with all food safety and sanitation policies

Beyond these roles, many more exist. For instance, a lot of people prefer the combination of art and science involved in being a pastry chef who makes high-end breads or delectable desserts. And others prefer to go into restaurant management, which enables them to make an impact on the overall operation of a dining facility, including the quality of its front-of-house service.

The best culinary schools in Canada tend to offer comprehensive programs that provide a great foundation for pursuing almost any career in this industry. You can even transform what you learn into a career as a personal chef, caterer, or food product developer.

How Much You Can Make as a Chef or Culinary Professional

The median annual wage for a chef in Canada is almost $32,718.*** But that isn't the full picture. When you break down what people earn in different roles, many of the numbers are higher. For example, here are the average salaries of a few common culinary positions:****

  • Executive chef—$57,385
  • Pastry chef—$41,985
  • Sous chef—$40,917
  • Chef de partie—$36,573
  • Caterer—$27,040

When it comes to restaurant management, the average salary in Canada is close to $40,778.**** But many culinary managers earn more than $79,997.***

Plus, some chefs and hospitality professionals are able to increase their income potential even more by operating their own businesses, whether in the form of a restaurant, catering company, or personal chef franchise. And some people find high-paying jobs providing culinary services in regions of the country where big oil and gas companies operate.

Culinary Training and Certification

The most common way to enter today's culinary profession is to earn a diploma from a culinary school in a great city like Vancouver. Most programs only take about one or two years, with some allowing you to learn online. And they can give you marketable skills and a foundational understanding of the industry that is attractive to potential employers who may want to hire you as an apprentice. Then you can pursue further certification that enhances your value and gives you an edge when looking to move up the culinary ladder.

For cooking and baking professionals, the most commonly pursued credential is a Red Seal endorsement, which enables you to have your skills recognized all over Canada.

Culinary Institute (CCI). The CCI offers three types of designations depending on where you are in your career:

  • Certified Working Chef (CWC)—For chefs with a Red Seal endorsement and at least one year of work experience at the journeyperson level
  • Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC)—For those with at least five years of experience after attaining a Red Seal endorsement, with two or more of those years involving kitchen management and employee supervision
  • Certified Master Chef (CMC)—For professional chefs with eight or more years of experience after earning a Red Seal designation and at least two years as a CCC

Look into Your Culinary Education Options Today

Imagine working in a career you love. It's more than possible. So take a moment to find out which culinary schools offer programs in your area. All it requires is entering your postal code into the simple school finder above.

Main Sources

* Restaurants Canada, website last visited on October 26, 2016.

** Tourism Vancouver, website last visited on April 7, 2017.

*** Job Bank, Government of Canada, website last visited on October 26, 2016.

**** PayScale, website last visited on October 26, 2016.