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Culinary Arts Schools in Arkansas

For those who associate Arkansas with the Ozark Mountains and country living, it may be tempting to stereotype the state's cuisine as unrefined. But while traditional fare does lean toward simple goodness, the culinary scene in Arkansas has a lot to offer prospective students. In recent years, the slow food movement has taken hold as head chefs and home cooks alike explore the local bounty of fruits, vegetables and livestock being raised in state. In addition, the state draws upon the food traditions of its neighbors, mixing Southern classic comfort food with Mexican and Texan influences.

Culinary Arts

Culinary arts schools in Arkansas prepare students to carry on these food traditions as well as work within other cuisines. One Eleven at the Capital, located in Little Rock, is one example of the type of new dining experience being found in Arkansas. A semifinalist for the 2015 Best New Restaurant award from the James Beard Foundation, the restaurant is a marriage of Southern hospitality and French fine dining.

One Eleven at the Capital is just one of many restaurants that may employ graduates from culinary schools in Arkansas. Overall, the National Restaurant Association says the state has 4,825 eating and drinking establishments which employ 116,800 Arkansans in 2015, 10 percent of the state's total workforce. What's more, that number is expected to increase 14.7 percent from 2015-2025.

Famous restaurants in Arkansas

As the capital city, Little Rock may be home to the state's most recognized restaurants, but there are plenty of good places to eat across the region. Here are four choices that students at culinary arts schools in Arkansas may want to try.

  • The Pantry (Little Rock): Voted the best overall restaurant in Little Rock by readers of the Arkansas Times, The Pantry has two locations in the city. Guests can enjoy lunch or dinner or, with enough notice, be served a family style dinner they surely won't forget.
  • The Hive (Bentonville): Outside of Little Rock, Arkansas Times readers gave The Hive their nod for best restaurant in the state. The establishment's take on refined country cuisine has been noticed by others as well, with executive chef Matthew McClure named a semifinalist for the 2015 Outstanding Chef: South award from the James Beard Foundation.
  • Local Flavor Café (Eureka Springs): Outside the big city, Local Flavor Café in Eureka Springs is a popular option that gets high marks from diners. Quaint and eclectic are two words to describe this establishment, a favorite of tourists and locals alike.
  • Big Orange (Little Rock): Those craving a big burger should head to Big Orange, one of the highest rated restaurants in Arkansas, according to Yelp reviewers. With two locations, Big Orange offers a relaxed, yet trendy, environment to try a burger as well as sweets, shakes and cocktails.

Culinary schools & career outlook in Arkansas

Students who graduate from culinary arts programs may choose to pursue a number of careers. They may work in restaurants as head chefs or food service managers. Others may branch out on their own to start bakeries, catering businesses or retail shops.

While incomes can vary depending on an individual's education, experience and other factors, the following chart looks at total employment, average income and expected job growth for some of popular culinary arts jobs in Arkansas.

OccupationTotal Employment in Arkansas (2013)Average Salary in Arkansas (2013)% Job Growth in Arkansas (2012-2022)
Chefs and Head Cooks 600 $38,710 13.3%
Bakers 1,040 $22,420 13.1%
Food Service Managers 1,690 $50,130 10.8%

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

Salaries and employment opportunities can vary significantly throughout the state. According to 2014 BLS data, the Little Rock metro has the most positions and the highest average salaries in the state. Other jobs may be found in Jonesboro, Fayetteville, Hot Springs or any of the dozens of small towns dotting the Arkansas landscape.

Not every culinary professional has a formal education, but culinary schools in Arkansas may offer their students some advantages when it comes to finding a job. Not only do their programs teach essential skills, they may also provide the opportunity to connect with working professionals or participate in internship programs. 

An Arkansas culinary school can provide the right space to gain a wide variety of skills needed in the workplace. Have a look at the list of culinary schools in Arkansas below and get started on your career recipe for success.

Sources

  • National Restaurant Association, Arkansas, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/arkansas
  • Projections Central, Arkansas, projectionscentral.com
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Arkansas, Occupational and Employment Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ar.htm
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Jonesboro, AR Metropolitan Area, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_27860.htm
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR Metropolitan Area http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_30780.htm
  • 2015 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists, James Beard Foundation, http://www.jamesbeard.org/blog/2015-restaurant-and-chef-award-semifinalists
  • Big Orange, http://www.bigorangeburger.com/
  • Local Flavor Café, http://www.localflavorcafe.net/index.html
  • Restaurants - AR, Yelp, http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=Restaurants&find_loc=arkansas&ns=1#start=0&sortby=rating
  • One Eleven at the Capital, http://oneelevenatthecapital.com/about/
  • The Hive, http://www.thehivebentonville.com/
  • A Recipe for Success: The Unique Cuisine of Arkansas, Kat Robinson and Jason Wiest, InArkansas.com, July 11, 2011, http://www.inarkansas.com/25600/a-recipe-for-success-the-unique-cuisine-of-arkansas
  • Readers Choice 2014, Arkansas Times, http://www.arktimes.com/arkansas/readers-choice-2014-results/Content?oid=3233672

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

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Other Arkansas Culinary Schools

School Name City or Town Programs Offered
University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Fayetteville Culinary Arts
National Park Community College Hot Springs Hospitality Administration
Arkansas Career Training Institute Little Rock Culinary Arts & Related Services
Arkansas Culinary School At Pulaski Technical College Little Rock Culinary Arts (AAS)
Ozarka College Melbourne Culinary Arts/Chef Training
University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Pine Bluff Food Service/Restaurant Management
Arkansas Tech University Russellville Culinary Management
Arkansas State University - Main Campus State University Hospitality Services Management