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Gainesville Cooking & Culinary Schools

Gainesville's food scene is a rare intersection of traditional and contemporary. On one hand, this is a major college town; an undercurrent of youth and diversity impacts the local food culture significantly, giving rise to a medley of sushi bars, trendy craft breweries and food trucks. On the other hand, Gainesville's roots run deep. The cultural heritage, local climate and the land itself converged to create a cuisine distinct to Northern Florida. For students attending cooking schools in Gainesville, these trends offer the chance to experiment with traditional and contemporary cuisine, and with a variety of ingredients and flavor profiles.

Famous Gainesville restaurants

Gainesville's restaurant scene offers a glimpse into the region's mixed food cultures. According to a virtual guidebook from the Alachua County Visitor's Board, hungry city dwellers can explore a myriad of cuisines, from traditional Southern classics and barbecue to Asian and modern fusion fare, in dining rooms that range from casual to upscale.

Here are just a few of Gainesville's best-known and -loved restaurants, according to publications like USA Today and Visit Florida:

  • The Yearling -- First launched in 1952, this classic locale is named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who lived just down the road. Guests can sample traditional dishes like hushpuppies, fried green tomatoes, quail and alligator; or they may stick to mainstream Florida fare, like grouper, oysters and scallops.
  • Paramount Grill- - Paramount Grill's chef owner Clif Nelson is known for his insistence on fresh, high-quality ingredients. The menu is diverse, but refined, featuring items like pan-roasted pork tenderloin and herb-infused rack of lamb.
  • Emiliano's Cafe -- Emiliano's is Gainesville's must-visit restaurant for foodies craving Cuban-style cuisine. Guests can choose from an array of tapas, like empanadas, fried plantains and chorizos, or heartier dishes like paella, Cuban sandwiches or ropa vieja.
  • Dragonfly Sushi & Sake Company -- Gainesville restaurant goers have many sushi restaurants at their disposal, but Dragonfly is perhaps the hottest. The menu features top-quality sushi and a variety of popular Japanese dishes, like noodles, seafood, fried dumplings and short ribs.
  • The Top -- Sometimes even the most adventurous food-lovers just want a good, hearty meal. This is precisely where The Top shines. The menu is large and varied, but according to USA Today, the juicy burgers and desserts -- especially peanut butter pie -- are not to be missed.

For students attending cooking schools in Gainesville, this diverse crop of restaurants has tremendous educational value. Internships and stages in their kitchens offer solid hands-on experience. They are also a major source of jobs, and according to official projections, this is not likely to change any time soon.

Gainesville culinary career outlook

Students attending culinary schools in Gainesville will be pleased to know that the area's hospitality market is heating up. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO) projects that all accommodation and food service careers in the Gainesville metro -- which spans Alachua and Bradford counties -- will grow by 15 percent between 2014 and 2022. Of course, some professionals are in higher demand than others, and earnings vary, too. These trends can help students make informed career decisions.

The following chart highlights a variety of culinary careers in Gainesville along with their average 2013 earnings, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and projected employment change between 2014 and 2022, as reported by the FDEO.

CareerAverage Salary in Gainesville (2013)% Job Growth in Gainesville (2014-2022)
Chefs and Head Cooks $50,970 8.2%*
First Line Supervisors $31,680 10.7%*
Restaurant Cooks $21,330 17%
Food Service Managers $60,050 10.2%
Bakers and Pastry Chefs $25,390 3.9%
Butchers and Meat Cutters $30,420 4.5%

* Note: Employment projections for chefs and head cooks and first-line supervisors are statewide; the FDEO does not provide estimates for these professionals in the Gainesville metro.

Keep in mind that salaries and career outlooks detailed above are only regional averages. Competition can be steep in top restaurants; candidates who attended cooking schools in Gainesville or had experience in a professional kitchen may have an edge over lesser-trained and inexperienced applicants. Culinary internships in local restaurants are a valuable way to boost resumes and build networks, especially among new culinary professionals.

Culinary and trade schools can offer training in any of the fields covered in this guide, but programs and credentials vary wildly. Prospective students can contact culinary schools in Gainesville to request more information.


  • Food & Drink, Visit Gainesville, Alachua County Visitor's & Convention Board, http://www.visitgainesville.com/food-drinks/
  • "Guide to Gainesville's Local Restaurants," Interactive Media Lab, University of Florida, Amanda Eatman, http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/fall12/eatman_a/index.html
  • "Best Restaurants: Gainesville," 10Best, The USA Today, http://www.10best.com/destinations/florida/gainesville/restaurants/best-restaurants/
  • "The Yearling: Southern Hospitality," Visit Florida, February, 2009, Barb Freda, http://m.visitflorida.com/en-us/articles/2009/february/1147-the-yearling-southern-hospitality.mobile.html
  • "May 2013 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Gainesville, FL," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_23540.htm
  • "2014-2022 Projections Statewide or by Workforce Region: Workforce Region 9 - Alachua & Bradford Counties," Employment Projections, Labor Market Information, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, http://www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/data-center/statistical-programs/employment-projections
  • "Culinary Internships," Internships.com, http://www.internships.com/culinary
  • Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, http://www.frla.org

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Other Gainesville, Florida Culinary Schools

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University of Florida Recreation, Parks and Tourism