Kickstart Your Career in the Culinary Arts With These 13 Local Colleges

If you love Alabama Gulf Seafood, chances are you like to cook it yourself every once in a while. And for many of you, it’s a regular hobby, or even a passion.

Neighborhood fish fries, backyard crab boils, chargrilled shrimp and oysters, and anything that’ll fit in a frying pan or oven—with so much delicious Gulf product to work with, the culinary possibilities are just about endless.

In fact, you could make a living at it. (Yes, you.)

Alabama has built a national reputation for amazing food. With historic restaurants, cultural variety, and lots of James Beard Award winners and nominees, we’ve become a destination for foodie tourists. And that means we can always use fresh culinary talents in our restaurant kitchens.

Thankfully, there are more than a dozen quality culinary programs throughout the state. From public universities and HBCUs to two-year community colleges, there are several options to accommodate different schedules, lifestyles, and career goals.

Here are 13 culinary programs to consider in Alabama.

Alabama A&M University (Huntsville)

A&M’s Department of Food and Animal Sciences was established more than 50 years ago, and they’ve been putting graduates into the industry ever since. In fact, it’s one of the university’s highest graduation and employment rates, and they offer bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, and PhDs.

Auburn University (Auburn)

Auburn’s hospitality program—the only professionally accredited one in the state—is about to get a big upgrade. The Tony & Libba Rane Culinary Science Center promises to be an all-encompassing environment for perfecting the culinary arts. Apply today to get in on the ground floor!

Bishop State Community College (Mobile)

Bishop State’s culinary arts program is right on Alabama’s Gulf Coast, which means you’ll have some terrific seafood resources to work with. Students will learn all the fundamentals of the restaurant industry in order to prepare graduates for employment right away.

Coastal Alabama Community College (Gulf Shores)

Coastal Alabama’s program emphasizes “classical cooking with a focus on taste, aroma, and artful presentation.” We can even vouch for their faculty personally: CACC instructor Chef Matthew Palamara was one of our four finalists for the 2019 Alabama Seafood Cook-Off.

Jacksonville State University (Jacksonville)

Jacksonville State offers a Hospitality and Culinary Management concentration for undergraduate students considering working in the food industry. Well-rounded topics covered include food science, quality food production, food safety, nutrition, business management, and marketing.

Jefferson State Community College (Birmingham)

Jeff State features their own Culinary & Hospitality Institute that comes with four different degree options: Culinary Apprentice, Foodservice/Culinary Management, Baking/Pastry, and Hotel-Motel Management. They’ve also got two campuses that offer convenient travels for Birmingham residents.

Lawson State Community College (Birmingham)

Lawson State’s culinary arts program features a brand new state-of-the-art training facility at the Birmingham East campus, which allows for advance training and additional courses for their curriculum. What’s more, they provide partnerships with nearby restaurants that can lead to full-time employment.

Shelton State Community College (Tuscaloosa)

Shelton State offers a few different options beyond the standard associate’s degree, including a certificate and a short-term certificate for more truncated studies. You’ll be in the kitchen a lot at this school with courses like food selection and preparation, menu planning, and meal management.

Trenholm State Community College (Montgomery)

Trenholm State offers two associate’s degree options—one for just Culinary Arts, one with an added Hospitality Management focus—within an employment-focused curriculum. Students at TSCC will learn the ins and outs of a restaurant’s kitchen as well as management responsibilities.

Tuskegee University (Tuskegee)

Tuskegee’s Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences offers undergraduate students several different options. Bachelor’s degrees include Food Science, Nutritional Science, and Public Health Nutrition as well as two dual degrees with biology components, and there are two master’s programs as well.

University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa)

Alabama students have been placed into the food industry for almost 90 years, and their food and nutrition major track continues to foster excellent chefs and restaurateurs. Each student will enjoy mentorship from an individual faculty advisor to guide them through the curriculum.

University of North Alabama (Florence)

UNA boasts the only comprehensive four-year culinary arts program in the state of Alabama, grooming students to plan, manage, and market their services. Minors in culinary arts and food management are also available. (And it sure doesn’t hurt that they’ve got two ASCO winners nearby at Odette.)

Wallace State Community College (Hanceville)

Wallace State’s culinary arts program is a comprehensive look at everything involved in food service, but naturally you’ll be focused on preparing, seasoning, and cooking all kinds of dishes. Students will enjoy the Culinary Arts Café where you can hone your skills and serve real customers.