Culinary Arts Schools in Colorado

Dominated by the Rocky Mountains and a reputation for ranching, Colorado may leave some people thinking its food scene is home to cowboy fare and not much more. While hearty stews can certainly be found across the region, students at culinary arts schools in Colorado will tell you the state offers up more than you may expect.

Culinary Arts

From the Front Range to the Western Slope, restaurants across Colorado are serving up innovative takes on a variety of dishes. Southwestern cuisine plays a major role in the state's dining scene, but the farm-to-table movement has also been embraced by many establishments. Colorado restaurants accounted for 12 percent of the state's employment in 2016, and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) estimates there are 11,247 eating and drinking establishments in the state. According to the NRA, culinary arts and related jobs are expected to grow 13.3 percent from 2016 to 2026, which is one more reason students may want to take a closer look at culinary schools in Colorado.

Famous restaurants in Colorado

Every state has outstanding restaurants, and Colorado is no exception. Travel along Interstate 25, and you'll find that most of the state's largest communities are nearby. Fort Collins and Boulder are to the north, while Colorado Springs and Pueblo are to the south. In the center you'll find Denver, where urban living meets the mountains.

For those exploring the food scene in Colorado, here are a few of the notable restaurants in the state.

  • Frasca Food & Wine (Boulder): Named one of the 101 best restaurants in the nation by The Daily Meal, this Italian fine dining establishment also won the 2013 James Beard Foundation Award for Outstanding Wine Program.
  • Splendido at the Chateau (Beaver Creek): Specializing in American rustic fare, Splendido at the Chateau scores high marks from Zagat for not only its food, but its décor and service too.
  • Smokin Yard's BBQ (Idaho Springs): For those craving barbeque, perhaps no one does it better in Colorado than Smokin Yard's BBQ. Affordable pricing and daily specials make this a great choice for families.
  • Phantom Canyon Brewing Company (Colorado Springs): Head to the Phantom Canyon Brewpub for a taste of Colorado's craft brewery scene. Located in the historic Cheyenne Building, it was voted best brew pub of 2014 by readers of the Colorado Springs Gazette.

Colorado culinary schools & career outlook

With a vibrant restaurant scene that is expected to grow in the coming years, Colorado has plenty to offer culinary arts students. Depending on the program, students may be able to gain hands-on experience alongside industry veterans. In addition, they may provide classes offering management and business knowledge in addition to kitchen skills. Those classes may be particularly beneficial for those hoping to strike out on their own after graduation by opening their own restaurant or otherwise going into business for themselves.

Upon graduation, students may be prepared to work as head chefs, private chefs and food service managers. Others may specialize their skills and become bakers or sommeliers. The chart below offers a look at the employment, salary and job growth for a few of the common occupations pursued by graduates of culinary arts schools in Colorado.

RegionCareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
ColoradoFood Service Managers2050$62360
ColoradoChefs and Head Cooks2320$48070
Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

A large portion of these jobs are centered in Denver and its surrounding metro area. However, it certainly isn't the only place to find culinary jobs in the state. The following chart compares the career outlook in metro areas in Colorado.

RegionCareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Boulder, COFood Service Managers230$56220
Boulder, COChefs and Head Cooks220$46130
Boulder, COBakers330$24200
Colorado Springs, COFood Service Managers160$66090
Colorado Springs, COBakers210$27210
Colorado Springs, COChefs and Head Cooks210$52520
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, COFood Service Managers1110$63600
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, COChefs and Head Cooks1320$43760
Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, COBakers2340$26610
Fort Collins, COFood Service Managers120$59470
Fort Collins, COBakers230$24770
Fort Collins, COChefs and Head Cooks90$47080
Grand Junction, COFood Service Managers50$65180
Grand Junction, COChefs and Head Cooks40$45590
Grand Junction, COBakers60$25240
Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Although a degree or formal education is not necessarily required by some food service employers, it may be the edge you need to land that dream job. Culinary schools in Colorado may be able to hone your cooking skills and connect you with professionals already established in the industry.

To learn more about culinary arts schools & degrees in Colorado, request further information from one of more of the schools below. They may be able to put you on track to a successful and fulfilling career that is every foodie's dream.


  • National Restaurant Association, Colorado, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2016/CA_Restaurants2016
  • Projections Central, Colorado, projectionscentral.com
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Colorado, Occupational and Employment Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_co.htm
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Colorado Springs, CO Metropolitan Area, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_17820.htm
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO Metropolitan Area http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_co.htm#35-0000
  • 101 Best Restaurants in America, The Daily Meal, http://www.thedailymeal.com/101-best-restaurants-america
  • Frasca Food and Wine, http://www.frascafoodandwine.com/pressawards.html
  • Food & Drink, Colorado Tourism Office, http://www.colorado.com/food-drink
  • 2014 Dining Winners, Best of the Springs, Colorado Springs Gazette, http://www.thebestofthesprings.com/section/dining/
  • Denver, Zagat, https://www.zagat.com/p/denver
  • The 11 Best Colorado Restaurants Outside Denver, Thrillist, http://www.thrillist.com/eat/denver/best-colorado-restaurants-outside-of-denver

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

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            Other Colorado Culinary Schools

            School Name City or Town Programs Offered
            Emily Griffith Opportunity School Denver Culinary Arts
            Johnson & Wales University - Denver Campus Denver Bachelors Baking & Pastry Arts and Food Service Management
            Metropolitan State College of Denver Denver Hospitality, Tourism & Events Major
            University of Denver Denver Hospitality Services Management
            Front Range Community College Fort Collins Advanced Culinary Arts