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Culinary Schools in San Diego

Long known for fish tacos and Mexican fare, the San Diego food scene combines the best of old world flavors with the latest dining trends and cuisines. Residents and tourists to the metro area can choose from more than 4,000 establishments serving up everything from BBQ to sushi to fusion cooking. It's a foodie dream come true, and also an excellent place to start a career in the culinary arts. If you're considering culinary schools in San Diego, here's what you need to know about what some call "America's Finest City."

Famous San Diego chefs, events and restaurants

San Diego boasts not only of plenty of dining choices, but also chefs who are movers and shakers in the culinary world. What's more, there are plenty of special events that include beer tastings, food trucks, cooking classes and more.

Here are just a couple of the people and events you can find on the San Diego food scene.

  • Jason Knibb: It's been more than a decade since Jason Knibb landed the executive chef position at NINE-TEN. You may have seen him on one of his many TV appearances, including a showdown with Bobby Flay on Iron Chef America.
  • San Diego Bay Food+Wine Festival: Occurring annually for 12 years, the Food+Wine Festival brings together the region's top restaurants and exhibitors for a week-long celebration of food.
  • William Bradley: As the director and executive chef at Addison at the Grand Del Mar, William Bradley has been on the receiving end of accolades from Relais & Chateaux and StarChefs.com.

Of course, you don't need a celebrity chef or a food festival to find good eats in San Diego. There are options for every taste and budget, and no shortage of opinions as to which restaurants are the best of the best. The following are a couple notable establishments that are highly rated by food critics, the man on the street or both.

  • Sushi Ota: If you want to try the place with the highest rated food according to Zagat, then you need to head to Sushi Ota. Undeniably authentic, Sushi Ota has been a San Diego mainstay since 1990.
  • Bobboi Natural Gelato: If you're in the mood for dessert, you may want to try Bobboi Natural Gelato, the highest rated restaurant in San Diego according to TripAdvisor.com users. You won't find much seating at the shop, but you will find plenty of made-that-day gelato in flavors that could include pineapple and basil, moka and salted caramel.
  • George's at the Cove: If you ask readers of San Diego Magazine where to go for a fancy night out, they would likely direct you to George's at the Cove. It was the reader's pick in the magazine's 2014 survey for top local restaurants.

Other restaurants that get rave reviews time and time again include Café Chloe, Searsucker and Prepkitchen. Or if you want to check out one of San Diego's many food trucks, the MIHO Gastrotruck may be a good place to start.

Culinary arts schools & career outlook in San Diego

Award-winning chefs and food festivals represent only the surface of the city's vibrant food and entertainment scene. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 173,000 workers were a part of San Diego's leisure and hospitality industry in November 2014. What's more, the industry is still growing, with jobs for leisure and hospitality occupations increasing 3.9 percent from November 2013-November 2014.

These jobs include a wide range of positions from resort managers to event planners to hotel concierges. However, graduates from culinary schools in San Diego may be most interested in those jobs that take place in and around the kitchen.

The following chart shows the employment and wages for a few of the culinary occupations available in San Diego as well as the statewide expected job growth for these positions.

OccupationTotal Employment in San Diego (2013)Average Salary in San Diego (2013)% Job Growth in California (2012-22)
Bakers 1,720 $24,030 11%
Chefs and Head Cooks 1,440 $52,260 13.7%
Food Service Managers 3,660 $55,070 11.8%
Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria 2,510 $28,310 16.2%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013, and Projections Central

As you can see, these occupations are expected to see significant growth in the coming years. While a degree many not be needed for all food-related occupations, getting an education from one of the culinary schools in San Diego could be a solid investment in your future. To learn more, contact culinary schools in San Diego and nearby communities to learn more about what they have to offer and how they may positively affect your career.


  • Projections Central, California, https://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  • Best Restaurants in San Diego, CA, TripAdvisor, http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurants-g60750-San_Diego_California.html
  • The Best Restaurants in San Diego, San Diego Magazine, http://www.sandiegomagazine.com/San-Diego-Magazine/June-2014/The-Best-Restaurants-in-San-Diego-2014/index.php?cparticle=1&siarticle=0#artanc
  • Economy at a Glance, San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/eag/eag.ca_sandiego_msa.htm
  • May 2013 Occupational Employment Statistics, San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos CA, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_41740.htm#35-0000
  • San Diego Restaurants, Zagat, http://www.zagat.com/p/san-diego#filter/vertical=46&orderby=score_food&sort=desc&page=1
  • The 38 Essential San Diego Restaurants, San Diego Eater, http://sandiego.eater.com/maps/the-38-essential-san-diego-restaurants
  • Sushi Ota, http://www.sushiota.com/
  • San Diego Food & Drink Events, San Diego Reader, http://www.sandiegoreader.com/events/food-drink/
  • San Diego Bay Area Food+Wine Festival, http://www.sandiegowineclassic.com/about.html
  • James Beard Foundation, San Diego, http://www.jamesbeard.org/search/site/san%2520diego
  • Jason Knibb, NINE-TEN, http://www.nine-ten.com/jason_knibb
  • William Bradley, Addison, http://www.addisondelmar.com/about/the-team/william-bradley/

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Other San Diego, California Culinary Schools

School Name Programs Offered
San Diego Mesa College Culinary Arts/Chef Training
San Diego State University Foods & Nutrition Studies
Travel University International Foodservice Management Certificate