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Culinary Schools in San Francisco

There is a reason why Anthony Bourdain once told The New York Times that San Francisco is his favorite food city. This is where sophisticated game-changers like Chez Panisse and The French Laundry were founded, but small local favorites like Yang Sing can keep lines out the door for more than 50 years. Of the dozen or so U.S. restaurants to hold Michelin's coveted three-star status, four are in the Bay Area, two in San Francisco specifically. Students attending culinary schools in San Francisco will find endless culinary variety and abundance, which means plenty of professional opportunities.

Culinary Arts

Perhaps the only thing as impressive as San Francisco's culinary achievements is the sheer size and diversity of its food scene: tiny taquerias, dim sum restaurants and food trucks peddling everything from American barbecue and soul food to traditional Jewish and Indian cuisine. Tourists converge on Fisherman's Wharf for a cup of clam chowder; locals escape to nearby Napa and Sonoma for some peace and some of the best wine in the world. One can find almost anything in San Francisco. As Bourdain put it, "the city surprises you every time."

Famous San Francisco restaurants

To say San Francisco has a booming restaurant scene would be a gross understatement. In 2012, Trulia published an analysis of U.S. Census data that declared San Francisco not only had more restaurants per capita than any other major metro in the country, it had nearly 50 percent more than the second contender. The following lists highlight some of the best.

Top rated

As of 2015, two San Francisco restaurants hold three Michelin stars.

  • Benu: Benu is newer than other restaurants featured on our list, but its covered three Michelin stars might suggest otherwise. The Chronicle says chef-founder Corey Lee, a French Laundry alumni, weaves modern and East Asian cuisine with unparalleled imagination and skill.
  • Saison: Like Benu, Saison is relatively new venture that quickly rose to the top of the nation's culinary ranks. Food and Wine's decision to rank Saison chef Joshua Skenes among the Best New Chefs of 2011 was more than vindicated when, just three years later, the high-end, New American restaurant earned its third Michelin star.

Most iconic

San Francisco's list of best loved restaurants is a mile long, but the following surely rank among them.

  • Chez Panisse: Chez Panisse is where, more than 40 years ago, storied chef Alice Waters first demonstrated the seasonal, sustainable culinary philosophy for which she is known. According to San Francisco Chronicle food critic Michael Bauer, chefs Jerome Waag and Cal Peternel continue the tradition.
  • Yank Sing: Founded in 1958, this famous dim sum spot, run by the Chan Family, has earned its stripes for both quality and longevity. The SFist reports that weekend guests counts swell to 500 as servers endlessly circle the dining room pushing carts stacked with the restaurant's famous dumplings.
  • Slanted Door: This Ferry Building Vietnamese restaurant, founded by Charles Phan, is a regular on "Best of" lists from publications like Food and Wine, Epicurious and Lonely Planet. Bauer calls Phan, who used all organic produce from the very beginning, a pioneer of fresh Vietnamese cooking.

The restaurants offer only a glimpse into all San Francisco has to offer. Critically acclaimed ventures like Coi and Manresa are legends in the making, and classic local hotspots like Mission Chinese Food and the House of Prime Rib never seem to go out of style. For students attending culinary schools in San Francisco, each of these restaurants offers a chance to test their palates -- and maybe even build their resumes.

San Francisco culinary schools & career outlook

According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurants accounted for more than 1.6 million jobs in 2015, which is about 11 percent of the state's total employment, and are expected to add nearly 175,000 more by 2025. Many of these jobs will center around California's largest population centers: Los Angeles, San Diego and, naturally, San Francisco.

The California Employment Development Department projects strong growth for a number of culinary professions between 2012 and 2022. This table details job statistics, typical earnings and projected growth for several Bay Area restaurant professionals from the CEDD and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

OccupationTotal Employment in San Francisco (2013)Average Salary in San Francisco (2013)% Job Growth in San Francisco County (2012-2022)
Chefs and Head Cooks 1,940 $52,270 14.4%
Bakers 1,460 $31,550 2.5%
Food Service Managers 2,230 $61,230 10.6%
Restaurant Cooks 10,780 $29,560 26%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014, and California Employment Development Department

Not all of these new jobs will require formal training, but employers often prefer candidates with more experience or education. Culinary schools in San Francisco can help future professionals develop the kind of hands-on, marketable skills, and not just in the kitchen. Programs may offer training in the following areas:

Some schools offer additional certifications in specific culinary disciplines, like sommelier and bartending certificates. Prospective students should consider their career goals and research all of their options in order to find the right program.

Culinary veterans attest that gaining experience in the restaurant world is key to a career, but a degree can be of help. For students aiming to attend baking and pastry or culinary school, San Francisco is definitely a city to consider – nearby are also culinary schools in San Jose. Rev up your culinary career by researching the San Francisco culinary schools below.

Sources:

  • "Answers to 'Where on Earth to Eat?'" The New York Times, November 18, 2011, Rachel Lee Harris, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/20/travel/anthony-bourdains-favorite-places-to-eat.html
  • "2015 San Francisco Michelin Selections: Three Stars,: Michelin Travel, 2015, http://www.michelintravel.com/selections/2015-san-francisco-michelin-selections/
  • "Bay Area Top 100 Restaurants," The San Francisco Chronicle, 2014, Michael Bauer, http://www.sfchronicle.com/top-100-restaurants/
  • "The 25 Best Restaurants In The Bay Area (According to Statistics!), sfist, March, 2014, Steven Melendez, http://sfist.com/2014/03/24/25_best_restaurants_san_francisco.php
  • "Best of the Best," San Francisco, ZAGAT, https://www.zagat.com/l/san-francisco/top-list
  • "Best New Chefs: Joshua Skenes," Food and Wine, 2011, http://www.foodandwine.com/best_new_chefs/joshua-skenes
  • The French Laundry, http://www.thomaskeller.com/tfl
  • Chez Panisse, http://www.chezpanisse.com/intro.php
  • "Eating Towns, Drinking Towns," trends, trulia, August 1, 2012, Jed Kolko, http://www.trulia.com/trends/2012/08/eating-towns-drinking-towns/
  • "California Restaurant Industry at a Glance," National Restaurant Association, 2015, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2015/CA_Restaurants2015
  • "Employment Projections, Long-Term: San Francisco County," Labor Market Information Division,Employment Development Department, State of California, December, 2014, http://www.labormarketinfo.edd.ca.gov/data/employment-projections.html#Long
  • "May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, CA," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_41884.htm

This list also contains online schools that accept students from San Francisco

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  • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
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Other San Francisco, California Culinary Schools

School Name Programs Offered
City College of San Francisco Culinary & Service Skills Training
San Francisco State University Hospitality and Tourism Management