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Culinary Schools in Memphis

Memphis is known for many things, but its epic music legacy tops the list. This is the land of the Memphis blues, jazz, and rock and roll. One could easily argue that when it comes to music, Memphis is in a class all its own. The same could be said of its soulful cuisine.

Culinary Arts

Memphis is home to the annual World Champion Barbecue Cooking Contest, the largest pork barbecue contest in the world, with a Guinness record to prove it. Many of these contenders dish up "Memphis style" pork, one of the four major regional styles of barbecue. This combination of slow-cooked pulled pork and sweet tomato sauce helped make Memphis the New York Times-anointed Barbecued Pork Capital of the World, but the city's food-related accolades extend well beyond the pit. Publications like Food and Wine and Travel + Leisure ranked Memphis among the top cities in the America for pizza and burgers, and several of its chefs and restaurants have won national acclaim. For students attending Memphis culinary schools, this thriving restaurant scene translates to a world of opportunity.

Famous Memphis Restaurants

From the bustling bars and restaurants on Beale and South Main to the trendy eateries of Midtown's Cooper-Young district, Memphis offers something for virtually every palate. Hungry guests can sample award-winning burgers, fried chicken and, of course, barbecue. Restaurants range from iconic little hole-in-the-wall dives to fine dining restaurants run by award-winning chefs. The following are just a few of the most famous restaurants in Memphis.

  • Dyer's Burgers: Founded in 1912, this Beale Street restaurant is one of the oldest and most iconic in Memphis; Food and Wine once ranked its burgers among the best in America. Legend says Dyer's secret is a special, ageless cooking grease transported with an armed police escort.
  • Earnestine & Hazel's: This downtown spot is casual, affordable and, according to local lore, haunted. In fact, it even offers ghost tours. It is also home of the famous Soul Burger comprised of a patty, onions, cheese, pickles and the ever-popular "Soul Sauce" on a bun.
  • Central BBQ: There is no shortage of popular barbecue joints in Memphis, but several publications consider Central BBQ a must-try for serious fanatics. It is consistently ranked the no. 1 barbecue restaurant in Memphis by locals, and has been featured by USA Today, Garden & Gun, Southern Living and other major magazines.
  • Rendezvous Charcoal Ribs: Rendezvous was founded in 1948 and remains a serious contender for Memphis' best barbecue restaurant. According to its website, this line-out-the-door hotspot has hosted presidents, the Rolling Stones, and many more famous guests.
  • Jim Neely's Interstate Barbecue: Jim Neely is the father of Pat Neely, of Food Network fame, but when it comes to Memphis barbecue, the senior Neely is a true legend. Interstate features a running list of its many awards and acknowledgements on its website, including best restaurant for pork barbecue sandwiches by USA Today.
  • Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken: One might not think much of this roadside shack at first glance, but Gus's record backs its claim. Founded in the early 1950s, Gus's chicken has earned recognition from such publications as GQ Magazine and UrbanSpoon.

Memphis culinary schools & career outlook

Restaurants are big business in Tennessee. According to the National Restaurant Association, they already account for 10 percent of the state's total employment and are expected to grow by another 10.9 percent between 2015 and 2025. Some of those nearly 32,000 jobs will undoubtedly be in Memphis. The following table highlights key state and regional culinary job trends.

OccupationTotal Employment in Memphis (2014)Average Salary in Memphis (2014)% Job Growth in Tennessee (2012-2022)
Chefs and Head Cooks 620 $34,370 9%
Bakers 250 $23,800 7.6%
Food Service Managers 1,610 $42,040 6.5%
Restaurant Cooks 5,410 $22,380 N/A
Bartenders N/A N/A 15.4%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014, and Projections Central

The culinary market may be trending upward, but competition could still be fierce for positions in top Memphis kitchens. Students attending culinary schools in Memphis may have an edge, especially if they complete local internships or take advantage of networking opportunities. These programs can prepare students for a number of different roles. The following are examples of the types of different programs culinary schools in Memphis might offer.

No single culinary school or program is right for everyone, so it is important for future students to research all their options. Check out the culinary schools in Memphis below to get started.

Sources:

  • World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, Memphis in May, http://www.memphisinmay.org/memphis-in-may-info
  • "America's Best Cities for Pizza," Travel + Leisure, February 21, 2013, Katrina Brown Hunt, http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/americas-best-cities-for-pizza/18
  • "Best Burgers in the U.S." Food & Wine, Lawrence Marcus, http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/best-burgers-in-the-us
  • "Food and Wine counts Memphis duo among country's best new chefs," Commercial Appeal, April 2, 2013, http://www.commercialappeal.com/business/food-wine-counts-memphis-duo-among-countrys-best
  • "Tennessee Restaurant Industry at a Glance," National Restaurant Association, 2015,http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2015/TN_Restaurants2015
  • "May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Memphis, TN-MS-AR," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_32820.htm
  • Labor Market Analysis: Memphis, TN-MS-AR, https://www.jobs4tn.gov/vosnet/lmi/area/areasummary.aspx?enc=0sOj/A15jsaGJZeQkgtRQrK4wLjnB+q5NJ2UOuR3fuMH7TLfnj2hJB6P+R+wD0ifqYYxuqjFKQO607rduFVFPw==

This list also contains online schools that accept students from Memphis

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1 Program(s) Found
  • 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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  • Online Courses
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  • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
  • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
  • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
  • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
  • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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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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  • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
  • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
  • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
  • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
  • Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
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2 Program(s) Found
  • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
  • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
  • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
  • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
  • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
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  • Flexible Scheduling
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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
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits

Other Memphis, Tennessee Culinary Schools

School Name Programs Offered
Southwest Tennessee Community College Culinary Arts