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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 Arts

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 TitleMedian 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%
Restaurant Cooks $23,640 14.3%
Baker $26,200 5.5%
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.

Sources:

  • "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

This list also contains online schools that accept students from Ft Myers

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2 Program(s) Found
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
  • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
  • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
  • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
  • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
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  • Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
  • Profiled in many publications such as The Boston Globe, Fox Business, and  Inside Higher Ed.
  • Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
  • Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
  • Founded in 1890 in Scranton, Pennsylvania    
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  • Has been training students for creative careers since 1921.
  • Provides interactive course materials and unique approaches to curriculum that  support multiple learning styles.
  • Offers a 10% scholarship to eligible active duty, active and drilling members of the Reserve and National Guard. 
  • Its accelerated online courses allow students to learn new course material every 5 ½ weeks.
  • Accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
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Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
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  • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
  • Offers 24/7 online tech support, with a typical response time of 4 hours or less.
  • Has online help centers that offer assistance with writing, statistics, medical assisting, and more.
  • Provides job placement assistance to all its students and alumni.
  • Researches trends for growing fields to tailor a more effective curriculum.
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WyoTech , Ormond Beach
  • Offers students the chance to complete their courses in less than 16 months.
  • Had a submission highlighted as one of the 25 best trucks at the 2013 Specialty Equipment Market  Association (SEMA) Show by Motor Trend’s Truck Trend magazine.
  • Has partnerships with companies such as AAMCO, Pep Boys Auto, Ryder, John Deere, and others.
  • Offers courses at 5 campuses in California, Wyoming, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Has over 350 employees who provide personalized, one-on-one live student support.
  • Partnered with AmeriCorps to create the Segal AmeriCorps education award that pays up to $5,500 towards tuition.
  • Provides 100% tuition assistance for military service members who qualify.
  • Offers JANET, the Job Assistance Network that covers instruction on résumé writing, cover letters and weekly job leads for up to three years.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC).
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•        Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.

•        More than $14 million in scholarships and grants are available per year to students who qualify.

•        100% online programs include 7 baccalaureate degrees, 11 associate’s degrees, 7 diplomas, and an MBA program.

•        Holds partnerships with many business and organizations to help create beneficial work opportunities for students and graduates.

•        Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).

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  • Based in Winter Park, FL, Full Sail University offers an innovative approach to learning.
  • Entertainment and media design programs are offered on campus and online.
  • With more than 37,000 alumni, Full Sail University graduates have worked in many different roles for some of the industry’s most well-known companies and contributed to countless notable projects
  • Through Project LaunchBox™, students in most programs receive a MacBook Pro pre-equipped with professional software at a deep institutional discount.
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  • Accredited
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  • Accelerated Programs
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  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
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  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
  • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
  • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
  • 3 campuses in Southern California.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Several institutional scholarship opportunities are available to students who qualify.
  • Features several learning model options, including online, residency, and hybrid options.
  • Offers graduate degree programs in organizational leadership, mind-body medicine, psychology and human science.
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • Three teaching locations in Seattle, Washington and Houston, Texas, with the university headquarters located in San Francisco, California.
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  • Ranked 21st among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Offers online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in health systems administration, international health, and more.
  • Instructs with a blend of interactive online class sessions, social connections between peers and faculty, and real-world clinical experiences.
  • Houses a multimillion-dollar research program that receives funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, The Commonwealth Fund, and more.
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Nursing@Simmons, the innovative, online nursing degree program from Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences prepares Registered Nurses for the next stage of their careers.

You need to have a Bachelor’s degree and RN license to be qualified for this school.

  • Online Courses
  • An independent educational services company that enables colleges and universities to reach students around the world via distance-based education solutions.
  • Offers associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees as well as professional certificates
  • Has a Comprehensive Learning Module™ program that helps students earn college credit by passing equivalency exams.
  • Partners with schools like Indiana State University, Lake Superior State University, Purdue University, Regis University, and SUNY Empire State College.
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  • Online Courses

Other Ft Myers, Florida Culinary Schools

School Name Programs Offered
Edison Community College Hospitality and Spa Operation
Lee County High Technical Center - Central Culinary Arts