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Culinary Arts Schools in Florida

The food scene in Florida, just like the weather, is hot. With multiple distinct hotspots, from Miami to Orlando, Florida has a diverse range of culinary options that span the spectrum of cultures, emerging food trends, and dining settings. From the James Beard-nominated Juvia in Miami Beach to Rocco's Taco & Tequila Bar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida has a little of something for every palette.

Culinary Arts

To most, Miami's South Beach dominates the food scene in Florida because the city is home to celebrity chefs and independent restauranteurs alike. Indeed, Miami is a melting pot of ethnic cuisine, offering patrons the opportunity to explore small hidden gems and expansive, critic-loved restaurants led by renowned chefs. In fact, during the past thirty years, restaurant row in Miami has experienced several transformative periods, culminating today as one of the hottest culinary hotspots in the country.

For example, Masahuru Morimoto (of Iron Chef fame) opened Morimoto South Beach, while Tony Mantuano (James Beard winner) operates Lorenzo in The Redbury South Beach, and Peruvian food master Gastón Acurio (owns 35 restaurants in 12 countries) owns La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental Miami.

While Miami may attract the attention, other regions especially Tampa Bay, are also undergoing gastronomic revolutions. An area long known for basic franchise and fast food fare, Tampa Bay is now also garnering culinary investments, bringing in a new generation of establishments and a renewed focus on local and sustainable food production.

The culinary industry in Florida is an important contributor to the economy, employing nearly 900,000 individuals throughout the state, according to the National Restaurant Association. More than 38,700 restaurants are in Florida, which drive more than $34.7 billion in annual sales.

Famous Florida restaurants

Indeed, Miami is the crown jewel of culinary action in Florida, and is home to numerous award winning restaurants and chefs. In 2014, six restaurants in Miami earned 5- and 4-star or recommended rankings from Forbes. Overall, 15 restaurants received recognition from Forbes Travel Guide's annual star award ranking. The 5-star winning restaurants in Miami included the following:

  • Azul: Located inside of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Miami, Azul the French-Asian fusion cuisine is the result of the inventiveness of William Crandall, Chef de Cuisine.
  • NAOE: Chef Kevin Cory's NAOE is a Japanese restaurant famous for its high end sushi that has been called "works of arts" by critics.

The 4-star winning restaurants in Florida included:

  • Café Boulud (Palm Beach)
  • Hakkasan (Miami Beach)
  • J&G Grill (Miami)
  • Nin18 (Orlando)
  • Palm d'Or (Coral Gables)
  • Scarpetta (Miami Beach)
  • Victoria and Albert's (Lake Buena Vista)

In 2014, Zagat also recognized the Miami culinary world, reviewing and listing some of the hottest restaurant openings that took place that year. These restaurants serve everything from oysters to kimchi, slabs of beef to brioche bun hamburgers.

  • Drunken Dragon
  • Buns & Buns
  • Sriracha House
  • Meat Market
  • Mignonette

Florida culinary Schools & career outlook

There are numerous avenues to becoming a chef or finding a place in the culinary industry, including attending a culinary school in Florida. No matter what the path, those seeking a professional culinary career typically choose from one of four central concentrations:

  1. Culinary arts
  2. Baking & pastry arts
  3. Culinary management
  4. Hospitality management

Training in these areas could prepare graduates to pursue careers as chefs, caterers, mixologists, sous chefs, pastry chefs, restaurant managers and more. In Florida, trained culinary professionals are in demand, evidenced by the 15 percent growth rate in the industry in 2014, according to the National Restaurant Association.

Individual careers including chefs and food service managers are some of the fastest growing occupations in the culinary industry in Florida, and they are expected see employment gains of 14 percent and 13.6 percent -- respectively -- between 2012 and 2022. Below is a table of the overall career outlook for bakers, chefs, and food service managers in Florida.

OccupationTotal Employment in Florida (2013)Average Salary in Florida (2013)% Job Growth in Florida (2012-2022)
Bakers 11,710 $24,840 7.1%
Chefs and Head Cooks 5,590 $51,660 14.0%
Food Service Managers 8,120 $61,740 13.6%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013, and Projections Central

At the local level, the largest opportunities are concentrated in metropolitan areas such as Miami-Miami-Beach-Kendall and Tampa-St.Petersburg. Below is a list of the total number of individuals working as bakers, chefs and restaurant managers in the top three metropolitan areas in 2013:

Bakers

  • Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall (2,020)
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg (2,020)
  • West Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Boynton Beach (1,560)

Chefs

  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (940)
  • Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall (900)
  • Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach-Deerfield Beach (520)

Restaurant managers

  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (1,500)
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg (1,280)
  • Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall (1,080)

As for career earnings, the BLS 2013 average top paying regions for bakers is Naples-Marco Islands ($37,850), Sebastian-Vero Beach for chefs ($64,400) and Miami-Miami-Beach-Kendall ($73,920) for restaurant managers.

With favorable weather, diverse cultural regions, and one of the best culinary destinations in Miami, Florida may be an attractive option for students considering attending a culinary school in the state.

Hands-on professional experience is essential for developing a career in culinary arts. However, a culinary arts degree demonstrating both dedication and skills to employers can also help.

Sources:

  • Azul, http://www.mandarinoriental.com/miami/fine-dining/azul/
  • NAOE, http://naoemiami.com/
  • Forbes, Restaurant Rankings, http://www.forbestravelguide.com/restaurant
  • National Restaurant Association, Florida, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2014/florida
  • Projections Central, Florida, projectionscentral.com
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, California, Occupational and Employment Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_fl.htm
  • Zagat, Miami, http://www.zagat.com/miami
  • OceanDrive.com, Miami's Great Chef Invasion, http://oceandrive.com/dining/articles/miamis-great-chef-invasion
  • CBS Local, Best Chefs Heating Up Tampa Bay Culinary Scene, http://tampa.cbslocal.com/top-lists/best-chefs-heating-up-the-tampa-bay-culinary-scene/
  • Forbes, Travel Guide Award Winners, http://blog.forbestravelguide.com/the-2014-forbes-travel-guide-star-award-winners

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

Other Florida Culinary Schools

School Name City or Town Programs Offered
Manatee Technical Institute Bradenton Culinary Arts
Pinellas Technical Education Center - Clearwater Clearwater Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts
Bethune Cookman College Daytona Beach Culinary Arts
Daytona Beach Community College Daytona Beach Culinary Management
Broward Community College Ft Lauderdale Culinary Arts Management Associate in Science Degree
Edison Community College Ft Myers Hospitality and Spa Operation
University of Florida Gainesville Recreation, Parks and Tourism
Palm Beach Community College Lake Worth Culinary & Hospitality
Traviss Career Center Lakeland Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts
Miami Dade College Miami Culinary Arts Program Associate in Science Degree
Okaloosa-Walton Community College Niceville Hospitality Services Management
University of Central Florida Orlando Hospitality Services Management
Valencia Community College Orlando Culinary/Pastry Management
Charlotte Vocational Technical Center Port Charlotte Culinary Arts – High School
First Coast Technical Institute St Augustine Culinary Arts
Pinellas Technical Education Center St Petersburg Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts
Dedman School of Hospitality Tallahassee Major in Hospitality Management
Hillsborough Community College Tampa Culinary Arts Certificate Program