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Culinary Arts Schools in Arizona

The Arizona dining scene might not be as well known as the one in neighboring California, but foodies have long known that Arizona holds many surprises, with its eclectic mix of Southwestern fare, Native American and Mexican influences and inventive cuisine. Its desert beauty, mixed with world-class national parks, attracts both year-round residents and tourists, and the restaurants have followed.

Culinary Arts

Students who attend culinary schools in Arizona will find that Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tuscon, Mesa/Chandler are the powerhouse cities when it comes to both population and food. Cities like Sedona focus on healthy food for discerning luxury guests, while Flagstaff and Kingman are very much the old American West where roadside diners can still be found in all their old-school glory.

Famous Arizona restaurants

It might not be haute cuisine, but those who have never had Navajo fry bread, a chimichanga, or menudo, which originated in the bordering Mexican state of Sonora, are in for a tasty Arizona treat. The state's capital and largest city, Phoenix, leads the way for fine dining with an inventive twist, including everything from top-notch vegan to fusion tapas.

North Central and South Phoenix is where most great Mexican restaurants can be found, with influences from Mexico City to the blended flavors of the border. Many upscale restaurants can be found inside the secluded walls of high-end resorts, especially in the Phoenix/Tempe/Scottsdale area.

Here are four Arizona restaurant gems, perfect for culinary arts students who want to test the waters of Arizona's food scene:

  • Aunt Chilada's: This Phoenix dining institution serves traditional Mexican fare and has the distinction of being Arizona's oldest restaurant, as it opened in 1890. The restaurant started out as a watering hole for miners, and its current, hacienda-like setting makes it great option for special events.
  • Crudo: This modern Italian venue, with minimalist décor and exposed beam, features a top-notch mixologist and creative dishes. It might be tucked away a bit, but it's worth looking for.
  • The Tasteful Kitchen: This wildly popular vegan and vegetarian restaurant in Tuscon caters mainly to hip foodies, but it's not pretentious. Even carnivores seem to flock to this creative restaurant.
  • Mr. D'z Route 66 Diner: As the name implies, this is a simple roadside diner on historic Route 66 in Kingman, AZ, that serves uncomplicated American food at its best -- think juicy hamburgers and grilled cheese with onion rings. The root beer floats are a must. It's a good option on the way to Grand Canyon National Park.

Arizona culinary schools & career outlook

According to the National Restaurant Association, in 2016 restaurant jobs represent 12% of Arizona overall employment, and those numbers are expected to grow 18.9% by 2026. In 2016, projected sales in Arizona's restaurants are expected to be $11.5 billion. This is a good outlook for students of culinary schools in Arizona.

Have a look at the table below to get an idea of earnings for specific careers in Arizona:

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Chefs and Head Cooks231045300
Bakers284024420
Food Service Managers336055010
Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Job availability and salary rates may be better in larger metro areas, especially in the hospitality industry. Students of culinary arts schools in Arizona could consider the two main urban areas, Phoenix (including Mesa and Glendale) and Tucson:

LocationOccupationsTotal Employed (2014)Average Salary (2014)
Phoenix Food Service Managers 2,220 $58,580
Chefs and Head Cooks 1,250 $49,740
Bakers 2,200 $25,850
Tucson Food Service Managers 460 $48,000
Chefs and Head Cooks 250 $47,980
Bakers 410 $24,900

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

While a big part of mastering the craft involves working in restaurants, there's no doubt that a solid educational background can help job prospects in the restaurant industry. There are a myriad of culinary arts schools to choose from in Arizona. Whether culinary school students decide to stay in the state after graduation or follow their dreams elsewhere, they will find Arizona to be a great place to learn and hone their craft.

If culinary arts schools in Arizona are like a good fit, then potential students should be sure to do research, talk to prospective schools and choose wisely. Selecting the right school could be the start to a very rewarding career in the culinary industry.

Sources:

  • Aunt Chilada's, http://www.auntchiladas.com/index.html
  • Crudo, http://www.crudoaz.com/
  • May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Arizona, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_az.htm
  • May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Phoenix-Me, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_38060.htm
  • May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Tucson, AZ, Bureau of Labor Statistics,http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_46060.htm
  • Mr. D'z Route 66 Diner, http://www.mrdzrt66diner.com/
  • The Tasteful Kitchen, http://www.thetastefulkitchen.com/
  • Arizona: Restaurant Industry at a Glance, National Restaurant Association, https://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2016/AZ_Restaurants2016

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This list also contains online schools that accept students from Arizona .

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            • Program areas include Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, and more
            • Students are taught cooking styles from around the globe, including Classical European, Asian, and Latin cuisine
            • Curriculum designed to prepare students for a career as a chef, with course topics that include Culinary Techniques, Management by Menu, and Nutrition
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            Other Arizona Culinary Schools

            School Name City or Town Programs Offered
            Phoenix College Phoenix Culinary Studies/Food & Nutrition