Delaware Culinary Schools & Institutes
Delaware cuisine is a smorgasbord of food traditions -- a term that is particularly fitting in light of its Swedish influences. According to Food Timeline, classic Delaware dishes like sour-milk biscuits and broiled chicken are carry-overs from early Dutch and German settlers who settled in the region hundreds of years ago, while fruit pies and jams were made popular by Swedish and Finnish colonists. Like other states, Delaware's food is as much a product of its land as its culture. iFood.tv ranks grilled walleye, dilly crab dip and risotto with crabmeat among the state's most popular recipes. Another popular local favorite: scrapple. Lonely Planet ranked this "down-home" favorite among Delaware's most iconic foods, but notes that the concoction of snouts and organ meats is, "best eaten without reading the ingredients list."
Scrapple is proof positive that when it comes to food, Delaware prizes tradition. But that does not mean its restaurant scene is not evolving. On the contrary. When The News Journal reported a number of James Beard Award nominations for Delaware chefs and brewers in 2014, it noted the First State's recent climb to culinary powerhouse. Even Zagat has begun to track what it calls a "fast-growing food scene" in Wilmington. For chefs and students attending culinary schools in Delaware, these trends offer a chance to take advantage of what Zagat calls the "bounty from proximity to farmland and the river," with "none of the high rent" typical in major foodie states like New York and California.
Top restaurants in Delaware
Delaware's restaurant scene is a balance of seaside, American favorites and fine dining. This variability offers those attending Delaware culinary schools plenty of options when looking for jobs. Hungry visitors likely appreciate the diversity too. The following list features some of Delaware's best loved restaurants, according publications like Zagat, Wine Spectator and Delaware Today Magazine.
- La Fia: When Zagat composed a list of Wilmington's top restaurants, La Fia easily made the cut. Chef-owner Bryan Sikora made a name for himself in Philadelphia before establishing the restaurant and its adjoined market/bakery. Zagat sung high praises for Sikora's pheasant foie gras and salt-cod chowder.
- Domaine Hudson: Domaine Hudson in Wilmington's steaks and pastas are always a hit, but it is its deep wine cellar that made it famous. Zagat reports every bottle is served meticulously: temperature-controlled bottles are never open more than 48 hours. This process -- and its 450-bottle stock -- earned Domaine Hudson rave reviews from Wine Spectator, among other vinously-inclined publications.
- A(Muse.): This Rehoboth Beach restaurant was founded by chef Hari Cameron, who was named best downstate chef in Delaware by Delaware Today Magazine in 2013. Cameron is big on technique and only serves the highest-quality ingredients. That means sustainably-procured seafood and partnerships with local farmers and foragers.
- Fenby's Fishery: No list outlining Delaware's top restaurants would be complete without mention of at least one crab house. Fenby's in Wilmington was named one of the state's best in 2013, per Delaware Today Magazine. It began as a small local fishery in 1974, but is now known for serving fresh seafood sourced as far away as New Zealand.
- The Dog House: The Dog House in New Castle may look like a classic hot dog and burger joint, but more than one publication referred to this 50+ year old favorite as a true Delaware institution. Diners can order American favorites like cheese steaks and French fries.
Delaware culinary schools & career outlook
Delaware's restaurant market is growing right along with its culinary prestige. The National Restaurant Association reported that the food service industry contributed 46,900 jobs to Delaware's economy in 2016, or about 11 percent of its total workforce, and is projected to add another 4,700 by 2026. Job prospects and earnings vary by position, however. This table offers insight into what culinary arts positions have the highest employment and demand in Delaware, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Projections Central.
|Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Chefs and Head Cooks||370||47540|
|Food Service Managers||390||71130|
Employment variations tend to be regional, too, which means graduates of Delaware culinary schools may find more opportunity in some cities than others. The following table highlights key employment and earnings trends for various culinary professionals in two of Delaware's biggest metros: Wilmington and Dover.
|Location||Occupations||Total Employed (2014)||Average Salary (2014)|
|Wilmington Metro||Food Service Managers||220||$65,180|
|Chefs and Head Cooks||140||$52,420|
|Dover Metro||Food Service Managers||80||$64,170|
|Chefs and Head Cooks||N/A||$54,930|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014
Restaurants and other food service venues often prefer to hire candidates who have experience, formal training, or both. That means students attending Delaware culinary schools may have an edge over lesser trained career competition, especially when coupled with internships and other on-the-job experience. No two culinary schools are identical, but they can offer similar programming. The following are among some of the most common culinary programs in and out of Delaware:
It is important for prospective students to keep in mind that even when two Delaware culinary schools offer similar training, techniques and coursework can vary wildly. Research is key. Browse the culinary school directory below to begin.
- "Best of Delaware 2013," Delaware Today Magazine, July, 2013, http://www.delawaretoday.com/Delaware-Today/July-2013/Best-of-Delaware-2013-A-Guide-to-Dining-Restaurants-Shopping-Entertainment-Nightlife-Services-and-Media/
- "10 Reasons to Drive to Wilmington," ZAGAT, April 15, 2014, Danya Henninger, https://www.zagat.com/b/philadelphia/10-reasons-to-drive-to-wilmington
- "A state-by-state guide to iconic US foods," Lonely Planet, May 2, 2013, Emily Matchar, http://www.lonelyplanet.com/usa/travel-tips-and-articles/77725
- "Haley, Calagione representing Delaware at James Beard," The News Journal, April 29, 2014, Patricia Talorico, http://www.delawareonline.com/story/life/food/2014/04/29/matt-haley-sam-calagione-representing-delaware-james-beard-awards-new-york/8472629/
- " Delaware," ifood.tv, http://ifood.tv/american/delaware/about
- "May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Delaware," Occupational Employment Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_de.htm
- May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm
- Long-Term Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/
- "Delaware Restaurant Industry At a Glance," National Restaurant Association, 2016, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2016/DE_Restaurants2016