Culinary Schools in Tampa

Florida is a true culinary powerhouse, with Tampa at its heart. Although Miami gets much of the glory, foodies and chefs recognize that Tampa Bay's rich cultural history and Gulf coastline make it a culinary haven. Culinary arts schools in Tampa give students the basic skills they need to succeed in any market; attending school in that city will also give students expose to the culinary traditions that define regional fare.

Culinary Arts

Tampa's culinary scene is both traditional and evolved. There are strong roots of Spanish, German, Italian and Cuban flavor, refined by major trends like local sourcing and the farm-to-table movement. New restaurants and culinary techniques are often at play in historic food districts like Ybor City, Tampa's traditional Latin quarter. Iconic dishes, such as the grouper sandwich, sopa de garbanzo and Cuban sandwiches, tell the story of Tampa and its people.

Famous Tampa restaurants and chefs

Tampa culinary school students, and students of baking and pastry schools in Tampa, can look forward to its hefty collection of top-rated restaurants and chefs. Often, the two go hand-in-hand. The following are just a few of the region's best-known and loved restaurants and the culinary visionaries who sustain them.

  • Bern's Steak House: This epic establishment is a must-visit for extreme foodies. Its menu features more than 50 cuts and preparations of premium aged steaks, nearly two dozen kinds of caviar, and nearly 50 different desserts. Its wine list is the largest in the world, with nearly 7,000 choices.
  • Z Grille: Named for James Beard-nominated chef and founder Zack Grosse, Z Grille's menu is upscale and features dishes from all across the globe. Popular options include its trademark deviled eggs and Dr. Pepper-sauced fried ribs.
  • The Refinery: Co-founded by three-time James Beard-nominated chef Greg Baker, its changeable menu features traditional Southern dishes prepared with a French twist, and with locally sourced ingredients.
  • The Columbia Cafe: Founded in 1905, The Columbia is officially Florida's oldest restaurant. It started as a small corner cafe in Tampa's Ybor City, but has expanded to include multiple locations. Its large menu features several Spanish and Cuban dishes, but it is perhaps best known for its authentic Cuban sandwiches and coffee.
  • Mise en Place: To students attending culinary arts schools in Tampa, "mise en place" refers to the art of planning and preparing ingredients ahead of time to ensure efficiency and consistency in the kitchen. It also refers to one of Tampa's most famous, most successful restaurants. Founded in 1986, Mise en Place's menu is ripe with signature dishes like lobster Manchego mac 'n cheese and cornmeal-crusted oysters with green tomato chutney.

Tampa culinary schools & career outlook

Tampa's hospitality industry is massive, pulling all types of talents from all across the nation. Some of these professionals rely on raw talent and years of experience to rise through the ranks, but many employers prefer to hire candidates with formal training, especially in high-end establishments. Culinary schools in Tampa cater to the region's diverse market, offering a wide variety of programs and credentials. They groom future chefs, pastry chefs, sommeliers, mixologists and restaurant managers, but also budding tourism and hotel management pros.

Formal training does more than give candidates an edge in competitive job markets and top kitchens. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earnings and employment rates tend to improve with education. Of course, training, talent and experience are also important factors that can shape graduates' futures; job title, regional demand and industry norms play a role too. The following chart details typical earnings and projected career growth for a wide range of hospitality pros within the Tampa metro.

OccupationMedian Salary in Tampa Bay( 2013)% Job Growth in Hillsborough County (2014-2022)
Chefs and head cooks $45,590 3.9%
First-line supervisors $31,590 8.9%
Restaurant cooks $23,090 8.8%
Baker $24,080 7.5%
Food service managers $58,290 7.5%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013, and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity

While cooking schools in Tampa might offer a future culinary professionals a solid foundation on which to build a career, the city itself is also ripe with opportunity. Several area restaurants, catering companies, hotels and culinary organizations offer internship and staging gigs. These experiences introduce future professionals to the local culinary market, provide hands-on training and build valuable networking relationships. Prospective students can contact cooking schools in Tampa to learn more about their program, internship and career-placement options.


  • "History & Legends," Visit Tampa, Tourist Development Council, Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners, http://www.visittampabay.com/unlock-tampa-bay/history-legends/
  • "Welcome to Cuban Sandwich City," Cigar City Magazine, March 7, 2012, Andy Huse, http://www.cigarcitymagazine.com/articles/food/item/welcome-to-cuban-sandwich-city
  • "Spanish Bean Soup (Potage de Garbanzo)," Columbia Restaurant, http://www.columbiarestaurant.com/recipe.asp?FeaturedItemID=20
  • "101 Best Restaurants in America," The Daily Meal, February 20, 2014, Arthur Bovino, http://www.thedailymeal.com/101-best-restaurants-america
  • "10 best foodie spots in Tampa/St. Petersburg," USA Today, March 10, 2014, Bob Jenkins, http://experience.usatoday.com/weekend/story/tampa-st-petersburg/2014/03/10/tampa-st-petersburg-foodie-spots-10-best/6181767/
  • "Tampa Bay's top 50 restaurants: Which is No. 1?" Tampa Bay Times, January 15, 2014, Laura Reiley, http://www.tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/dining/tampa-bays-top-50-restaurants/216054
  • "Columbia Restaurant: Florida's Oldest Restaurant's History," Columbia Restaurant, http://www.columbiarestaurant.com/fl_oldestrest.asp
  • "Tampa Foodie Festival Season: Seize the Flavor of Tampa Bay," Events, Visit Tampa Bay, http://www.visittampabay.com/tampa-events/foodie-festival-season/
  • Tampa Bay Food Truck Rally, https://www.tampabayfoodtruckrally.com/
  • Tampa Bay Food & Wine Festival, http://www.tampabaywineandfood.com/
  • "May 2013 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_45300.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

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            Other Tampa, Florida Culinary Schools

            School Name Programs Offered
            Hillsborough Community College Culinary Arts Certificate Program