Idaho Culinary Schools & Institutes

Idaho's cuisine evolved from that of its earliest immigrants. The Welsh brought salmon chowder, the Basques brought lamb stew, and the Finns Bara Brith brought a raisin and currant bread. Idaho chef Chris Kastner of CK's Real Food in Halley told Boise Weekly that modern Idaho food is still a melting pot shaped by "what's growing outside your door." Even though some of the favorite state dishes run the gamut from double-battered finger steaks to grilled cheese, Idaho's broader cuisine is defined its locally-grown produce, dairy, game meats and, of course, the potato.

Culinary Arts

Idaho is practically synonymous with potatoes. When PBS compiled a feature of each state's most iconic foods and recipes, Idaho's list included garlic mashed potatoes, herb-roasted potatoes, roasted Italian potatoes and baked potato chips. But as Boise Weekly noted, Idaho is so much more than potatoes; the tuber was not even declared an official state food until 2002. Today the state's top chefs are rediscovering early Idahoan locavore roots, and experimenting with the farm-to-table movement sweeping top restaurants nationwide. Fortunately for students attending Idaho culinary schools, it is also the catalyst for the refined food revolution putting Idaho restaurants on the map.

Famous Idaho restaurants

Idaho's cuisine has managed to become more sophisticated without sacrificing its simpler roots. The state produced five James Beard Award nominees between 2013 and 2015. When Boise Weekly reported what the state's top chefs were actually doing, the answers suggested a more refined approach to old Idaho traditions. Instead of farming like their ancestors, chefs at restaurants like Red Feather Lodge hire sustainability managers who forage for local game, grains and produce.

Another way Idaho proves good food can be unpretentious: its highest rated and most iconic restaurants place classic burger joints alongside high-end eateries. Here are some of them.

  • Michel's Christiania (Ketchum): When The Culture Trip named Idaho's 10 best Restaurants, this fine French restaurant topped the list. Opened in 1959, Earnest Hemingway frequented Michel's Christiania so frequently that the restaurant gave him his own table.
  • Beverly's (Coeur d'Alene): The Distinguished Restaurants of North America Association considers Beverly's one of the best restaurants in the country; with 14,000 bottles, it also boasts one of the biggest wine collections. The Culture Trip calls it a "mecca for epicures and locavores."
  • Brick 29 (Nampa): Brick 29 is set in the basement of a former Masonic Temple, which The Culture Trip aptly describes as, "industrial chic." Chef Dustan Bristol, a three-time James Beard nominee, is known for his simple menu featuring reinvented comfort foods.
  • Red Feather Lounge (Boise): GQ Magazine once included Red Feather Lounge in a list of the "best food in the most unexpected places. This purveyor of seasonal American cuisine describes itself as a fresh and modern venue.
  • The Cellar at 317 Sherman (Coeur d'Alene): This fine dining venue features live jazz, revamped American cuisine, and a 3,000 bottle wine list that earned Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence, twice. Executive chef Adam Hegsted serves traditional Idaho ingredients like steelhead trout alongside less traditional foods, like jasmine rice and soy caramel.

This list includes some of Idaho's best restaurants, but it is by no means comprehensive. For students attending Idaho culinary schools, the state's ever-growing cache of top-rated restaurants is an important source of education, inspiration and, perhaps, jobs.

Idaho culinary schools & career outlook

Students attending culinary schools in Idaho can look forward to a booming restaurant market. The National Restaurant Association reports that restaurants accounted for more than 63,000 Idaho jobs in 2015 and is projected to grow by another 12.5 percent in the decade to follow. The following table highlights key employment, earning and career growth statistics for a number of Idaho culinary jobs.

OccupationTotal Employment in Idaho (2014)Average Salary in Idaho (2014)% Job Growth in Idaho (2012-2022)
Chefs and Head Cooks 700 $31,490 17.0%
Bakers 760 $24,150 26.0%
Food Service Managers 980 $36,590 12.1%
Restaurant Cooks 5,590 $21,640 32.2%

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

Employment and earnings can vary with population, cost of living and a myriad of other factors. Here are 2014 BLS occupational estimates for culinary professionals in the Boise City-Nampa and Cour d'Alene metros, which together house every top Idaho restaurant featured above.

LocationOccupationsTotal Employed (2014)Average Salary (2014)
The Boise City-Nampa Metro Food Service Managers 470 $36,530
Chefs and Head Cooks 300 $32,640
Bakers 220 $26,150
Coeur d'Alene Metro Food Service Managers 110 $44,190
Chefs and Head Cooks 50 $31,720
Bakers 80 $23,170

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Not all chefs begin their careers with formal training, but some employers prefer candidates who do, especially in prestigious kitchens. Culinary schools in Idaho offer culinary arts, pastry arts, restaurant and hospitality management, and even sommelier programs. Finding the right program requires some thought, not to mention research. Browse the Idaho culinary schools below to begin your journey.


  • "What Are Some of the Official State Foods?" PBS, July 2, 2013, http://www.pbs.org/food/features/official-state-foods/
  • Idaho Statute 67-4511, Idaho State Legislature, 2002, http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/idstat/Title67/T67CH45SECT67-4511.htm
  • "Beyond The Potato: Idaho chefs define Idaho cuisine," Boise Weekly, Marcy 23, 2010, Jennifer Hernandez, http://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/beyond-the-potato/Content?oid=1531231
  • "Two Treasure Valley chefs receive James Beard Award nominations," Idaho Statesman, February 20, 2015, http://www.idahostatesman.com/2015/02/20/3655744/two-treasure-valley-chefs-receive.html
  • "Boise chef up for James Beard Award," KTVP, February 24, 2014, http://www.ktvb.com/story/news/local/2014/07/02/12095635/
  • "Two Idaho Chefs Earn Award Nominations From James Beard Foundation," Edible Idaho, February 25, 2013, Mia James, http://edibleidahosouth.com/edible-news/two-idaho-chefs-earn-award-nominations-from-james-beard-foundation/
  • "Idaho's 10 Best Restaurants: From Fine Dining to Local Eats," A Culture Trip, http://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/idaho/articles/idaho-s-10-best-restaurants-from-fine-dining-to-local-eats/"
  • "The Most Iconic Restaurant in Every State (And DC!)," Thrillist, January 4, 2015, Lee Breslouer, http://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/oldest-restaurant-in-every-state-and-dc
  • "The Best Food in the Most Unexpected Places," GQ Magazine, July, 2012, Brett Martin, http://www.gq.com/food-travel/restaurants-and-bars/201207/best-fast-food-restaurants-in-america
  • "Indiana: Restaurant Industry At A Glance," National Restaurant Association, 2015, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2015/ID_Restaurants2015
  • Long Term Occupational Projections, Projections Central, http://projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm
  • "May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Earnings Estimates: Idaho," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_id.htm

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

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