Fort Myers Cooking & Culinary Schools
It is always tourist season in Fort Myers. While the beach is a major selling point for tourists of all ages and intents, Visit Florida reports that Fort Myers is a major haven for another, very specialized kind of tourist: The foodie.
Culinary aficionados have long revered the area's unique cuisine, and now emerging trends like the craft brew and farm-to-table movements support an entirely new brand of food tourism. While these trends bode well for anyone who loves food, they are true game-changers for those with more professional aspirations. Culinary schools in Fort Myers can offer students a nice segue into top kitchens and resorts, and an opportunity to get acquainted with the local food scene.
Famous restaurants in Fort Myers
Like many coastal getaways, Fort Myers and its neighboring communities, including Cape Coral and Sanibel, are ripe with beachside restaurants. According to the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, these venues run the gamut from casual to gourmet, but native seafood and other locally sourced ingredients are popular across the board. Of course, one need not head out the coast to catch a great meal. The downtown Fort Myers restaurant district is a culinary hotspot in its own right.
Cooking schools in Fort Myers often require externships and stages that bring students out of the classroom and into professional kitchens. Most local restaurants fit the bill, but particularly ambitious students often set their sights on the best-known or highest-rated kitchens. So what are the area's top restaurants? Here are just a few of them, at least according to Fort Myers-area food critic Jean Le Boeuf.
- El Gaucho Inca: This local favorite pairs a Peruvian-farmhouse-chic vibe with fine Argentine fare.
- Farmer's Market Restaurant: As the region's oldest restaurant, FMR's menu features traditional Southern and Gulf favorites like chicken livers, okra and corn nuggets over high-end fare.
- Fish Tale Grill: This family-owned Cape Coral spot evolved from the successful Merrick Seafood Market, and its menu accordingly features fresh-caught native seafood filleted on-site.
- Kenwood Lane Grille: This Fort Myers favorite is founded and driven by local chef David Ratzenberger who makes virtually everything from scratch.
- The Mad Hatter: This self-described "Wonderland of New American Cuisine" in neighboring Sanibel has won high marks from publications like Frommer's and The News-Press. Its menu is upscale modern, featuring dishes like seared foie gras with caramelized Asian pear.
- Origami. This Fort Myers sushi restaurant is known for its innovative menu and quality ingredients.
- Sweet Melissa's Cafe: This Sanibel restaurant breaks from the tropical conventions so common among other area restaurants. The menu leans toward traditional southern and features such dishes as suckling pig confit and rabbit pâté.
These are just a few of the most popular restaurants in Fort Myers. Other top establishments -- like The Timbers Restaurant and Fish Market and the Prawnbroker Restaurant and Fish Market -- consistently earn high marks from Zagat and other popular ratings publications. Students attending cooking schools in Fort Myers have a multitude of options when it comes to beefing up their resumes or completing externships.
Fort Myers culinary career outlook
Not all culinary and hospitality professionals are formally trained, but those who are may have an advantage when vying for work in competitive markets and prestigious venues. Culinary schools in Fort Myers help students hone skills that will serve them throughout their careers. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that earnings and employment rates tend to improve with education.
The culinary and hospitality field is diverse; culinary schools in Fort Myers train future chefs and pastry chefs, as well as budding sommeliers, restaurant managers, hotel managers and other hospitality pros. Some of these workers are in greater demand than others. The following chart features several culinary careers.
|Job Title||Median Salary in the Fort Myers Metro (2013)||% Job Growth in Lee County (2014-2022)|
|Chefs and Head Cooks||$48,960||13.2%|
|First Line Supervisors||$34,710||14.1%|
|Food Service Managers||$61,900||12.6%|
|Butchers and Meat Cutters||N/A||14.3%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013, and Projections Central
These jobs represent just a sliver of the culinary and hospitality opportunities in the Fort Myers area. Sommeliers, mixologists, food stylists and photographers, food writers and resort event coordinators are in demand, too. Employers generally prefer to hire candidates with the right mix of training and experience, both of which can be honed in area culinary schools.
- "Restaurants and Dining at Ft Myers Beach," The Catch. Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce, http://www.fortmyersbeach.org/fort-myers-beach-restaurants-and-dining/
- "Jean Le Boeuf picks the 35 best restaurants in Lee," News-Press, USA Today, November 12, 2014, Jean Le Boeuf, http://www.news-press.com/story/life/food/2014/11/12/jean-le-boeuf-picks-best-restaurants-lee/18889721/
- "Local REstaurants receive high Zagats rankings," Florida Weekly, January 11, 2011, http://fortmyers.floridaweekly.com/news/2012-01-11/Business_News/Local_restaurants_receive_high_Zagats_rankings.html
- Restaurants, Downtown Fort Myers, http://www.downtownfortmyers.com/Restaurants/
- Eat & Drink, The Beaches of Forty Myers and Sanibel, Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau, http://www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/eat-drink/
- "May 2013 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Cape-Coral-Fort Myersr, FL," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_15980.htm
- Employment Projections Data: 2014-2022, Labor Market Information, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity,http://www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/data-center/statistical-programs/employment-projections
- "Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment: 2013," Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 24, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_chart_001.htm
- "Culinary Tours in Fort Myers & Sanibel," Visit Florida, Rachelle Lucas, http://origin.www.visitflorida.com/en-us/articles/2014/insider-food-dining/culinary-tours-in-beaches-of-ft -- myers -- -sanibel-.html