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Culinary Schools in Los Angeles

For a long time, the food scene in Los Angeles focused more on the scene than the actual food. But these days, things could not be more different. The quick turnaround may seem surprising, but there are a number of things that make L.A.'s culinary scene so dynamic. It's always had the makings of a great food destination, which makes its arrival on the culinary scene that much more fitting.

Culinary Arts

L.A.'s world-class food offerings result from a perfect storm of environmental and human variables. Acclaimed chef and restaurateur Roy Choi, of Kogi BBQ truck fame, names several factors:

  • Food trucks -- Food trucks, whose white-hot popularity have single-handedly changed the conversation about fine dining in America, are now so ubiquitous in major cities that many people aren't even aware they originated in L.A. Since the 1930's food trucks have provided the city of Los Angeles with delicious, cheap and convenient food, and modern iterations such as Choi's own Korean-Mexican fusion truck continue to innovate the medium.
  • California produce -- California's agricultural bounty strikes envy in the hearts of chefs who reside outside the Golden State. Unique, top-quality items like heirloom tomatoes and lemon apricots that don't grow well in or travel well to other parts of the country are abundant in California, and set L.A. apart from other culinary powerhouses like New York and Chicago.
  • Innovation -- When the Michelin Guide snubbed Los Angeles in its rankings, L.A. chefs could have been rightfully disheartened. Instead, they saw it as an opportunity to create their hearts' desires without regard for the conventions and hyper-criticism of the global food scene. What resulted were groundbreaking and trendsetting pop-up restaurants, performance-art cooking and completely unconventional treatment of ingredients, like seaweed baguettes.
  • Ethnic diversity -- Of course, L.A. isn't the only metropolis with a diverse population. But the City of Angels' sprawling geography thins out its population density, and the resulting affordable space has allowed a huge variety of ethic communities to carve out their own culinary enclaves. Mexican, Korean, Armenian, Bangladeshi -- they're all here, and the restaurants where you find them are almost always run by and geared towards the immigrants themselves.

With resources like these, students attending culinary school in Los Angeles find themselves on the frontier of haute cuisine.

Famous Los Angeles restaurants

The Los Angeles restaurant scene is a bastion of new talent, and students enrolled in one of the city's excellent culinary programs needn't look far to find inspiration and mentorship from some of the best in the business. The following list details a small but well-regarded selection of L.A.'s most exciting food experiences.

  • Alma -- What began as a gamble by an inexperienced chef in his mid-20s has quickly transformed into a trendsetting restaurant that's lit up the L.A. food scene. Named Best New Restaurant in 2013 by Bon Appetit magazine, Alma features an ever-changing menu of unexpected delights like chilled artichoke soup with charred avocado and salty sea beans.
  • Kogi BBQ -- Roy Choi's Kogi truck exists on the other side of the dining spectrum: meals are served on paper trays and consumed curbside. But Chef Choi knows that you don't need frills if you have good food, and his Korean fusion street eats remain one of L.A.'s most beloved culinary treasures.
  • Taqueria Los Anaya -- You can't talk about L.A.'s food scene without mentioning Mexican food, and Taqueria Los Anaya is one of the city's highest-rated spots for delicious tacos, burritos and enchiladas. Regulars recommend the shrimp tacos, but you really can't go wrong with anything on Los Anaya's menu.
  • Daikokuya -- Remember when everyone thought ramen was just something that came in a package and cost four for a dollar? You can thank iconic restaurants like Daikokuya for dismantling that silly notion with their incredibly flavorful broths and fresh noodles. Be prepared for a wait because there's nothing instant about this ramen.
  • Trois Mec -- Chef Ludo Lefebvre helms this bold, French-inspired restaurant where patrons are treated to a six-course dinner cooked right before their eyes. Standouts like tandoori scallops and buckwheat popcorn are as enticing as they are unexpected.

Los Angeles culinary schools and career outlook

In the age of the celebrity chef, competition for jobs among aspiring cooks and restaurateurs is more intense than ever. Fortunately, the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale metro employs more food workers than almost any other metropolitan area in the nation, and California's projected job growth for most food-related careers outpaces the national average for all occupations.

OccupationTotal Employment in Los Angeles (2014)Average Salary in Los Angeles (2014)% Job Growth in California (2012-2022)
Chefs and Head Cooks 3,850 $43,940 13.7%
Bakers 10,320 $25,030 11.0%
Food Service Managers 9,400 $50,060 11.8%
Restaurant Cooks 32,140 $23,880 28.8%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

If you're interested in entering the culinary field in southern California, set yourself apart from the masses by enrolling in culinary school. Whether you want to become a sommelier, open your own catering company or work for one of the city's top restaurants, Los Angeles will likely have a culinary program that can help you achieve your goals. 

Students of culinary arts schools, baking and pastry schools, and hotel management schools in Los Angeles have good incentives for working hard. Experience is important for moving up in the industry, but culinary arts degrees can help aspiring culinary professionals gain the cooking and business skills they need. Have a look at the culinary schools Los Angeles has to offer to find the school locations and degree programs right for you.

Sources:

  • May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_31084.htm
  • Daikokuya Ramen, http://www.dkramen.com/
  • Long Term Projections, California, Projections Central, https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  • Sorry, New York: Los Angeles the New Food Capital, Kenny Porpora, Yahoo Travel, May 8, 2014, https://www.yahoo.com/travel/sorry-new-york-los-angeles-is-the-new-food-capital-85068605142.html
  • Taqueria Los Anaya, http://www.taquerialosanaya.com/

This list also contains online schools that accept students from Los Angeles

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Other Los Angeles, California Culinary Schools

School Name Programs Offered
Chef Erics Culinary Classroom 10-Week Culinary Baking/Pastry Program - Certification Program
Los Angeles Trade Technical College Culinary Arts Associates Arts Degree