Culinary Arts Schools in Kentucky

It's hard to talk about Kentucky without also talking about its food. The Bluegrass State is known for horse racing and Southern charm, both of which are celebrated with distinctive meals and drinks. From mint juleps during the Kentucky Derby to tea sandwiches with Benedictine spread on Mother's Day, the state is steeped in food traditions. That rich heritage is a great foundation for students who attend culinary arts schools in Kentucky.

Culinary Arts

The Kentucky Derby is one of the state's premier events, and a perfect example of how some foods are intertwined with the state's identity. The annual Taste of Derby festival brings some of the hottest names in the culinary world to celebrate state and regional specialties. For those who stay home on race day, viewing parties often feature bourbon drinks, derby pie and Hot Brown, an open-faced sandwich.

Of course, good eating in Kentucky extends beyond the derby and holidays. Barbecue, fried chicken and country ham are all found in restaurants across the state. In addition to classic fare, culinary schools in Kentucky can prepare students to work with contemporary and ethnic cuisines as well. Then, graduates may be ready to work at any one of the more than 7,000 eating and drinking establishments in the state.

Famous restaurants in Kentucky

According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurants employ nearly 200,000 Kentuckians, 10 percent of the state's workforce. Those jobs are expected to grow by 8.7 percent from 2015-2025 which could mean more opportunities for graduates of culinary schools in Kentucky.

There are plenty of great dining options in Kentucky, and here a couple notable names that students may want to try.

  • Claudia Sanders Dinner House (Shelbyville): While Colonel Sanders was taking his version of Kentucky Fried Chicken to a national audience through his chain of fast food restaurants, his wife Claudia was working closer to home. The Claudia Sanders Dinner House continues her tradition of providing home-style, Southern food favorites.
  • 610 Magnolia (Louisville): Southern Living Magazine named 610 Magnolia as one of the best restaurants in Louisville. The James Beard Foundation agrees its chef is something special and named Edward Lee as a semifinalist for the 2015 Best Chef: Southeast honor.
  • Alfalfa (Lexington): In Lexington, the weekly newspaper, Ace, tapped Alfalfa as one of the best restaurants in the city's downtown. Relying heavily on locally sourced ingredients, it's a casual and cool place that's been serving up good food since the 1970s.
  • Old Hickory Bar-B-Que (Owensboro): Barbecued mutton has a special place in Kentucky food tradition, and some say no restaurant does it better than Old Hickory Bar-B-Que. Founded in 1918, the unassuming establishment offers a full menu of chicken, beef and pork for those who aren't thrilled with the idea of eating sheep.

Culinary schools & career outlook in Kentucky

If you’re thinking of pursuing formal training through culinary school, Kentucky can be the right place for it. Earning a degree from culinary schools in Kentucky can help students prepare for a variety of careers in the industry. Depending on the school, there may be programs that focus on kitchen skills, while other programs focus on the business side of the culinary arts. After graduation, students may become head chefs, bakers or caterers. Others may decide to continue their education to expand their knowledge beyond the culinary arts and into other aspects of the hospitality industry.

While there is no guarantee graduates will land a certain job or earn a specific salary, the following chart shows total employment, average salaries and expected job growth for popular culinary arts positions in Kentucky.

CareerTotal EmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
Chefs and Head Cooks75045970
Food Service Managers382047520
Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Jobs may be located throughout the state, but students may find opportunities are most plentiful in large cities such as Louisville and Lexington. The following chart takes a closer look at jobs in the state's two largest cities.

LocationOccupationsTotal Employed (2013)Average Salary (2013)
Louisville Food Service Managers 1,220 $48,800
Chefs and Head Cooks 250 $41,740
Bakers 280 $25,190
Lexington Food Service Managers 570 $53,100
Chefs and Head Cooks 130 $45,990
Bakers 160 $20,870

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Whether you want to go into management or work as the head chef, culinary arts schools in Kentucky may have the perfect program for you. To learn more, request additional information from the schools listed below.


  • National Restaurant Association, Kentucky, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/kentucky
  • Projections Central, Kentucky, projectionscentral.com
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Kentucky, Occupational and Employment Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_ky.htm
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN Metropolitan Area, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_31140.htm
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Lexington-Fayette, KY Metropolitan Area http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_30460.htm
  • 2015 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists, James Beard Foundation, http://www.jamesbeard.org/blog/2015-restaurant-and-chef-award-semifinalists
  • Taste of Derby, http://www.kentuckyderby.com/tasteofderby
  • Bluegrass Bites: Traditional Food from Kentucky, Sara Yoo, Popsugar, http://www.popsugar.com/food/Traditional-Foods-From-Kentucky-Kentucky-Derby-22900842
  • Claudia Sanders Dinner House, http://claudiasanders.com/about/
  • Best Louisville Restaurants, Southern Living, http://www.southernliving.com/travel/south-central/best-louisville-restaurants
  • Where to eat in Lexington Kentucky: Downtown Top Ten, http://www.aceweekly.com/2012/06/where-to-eat-in-lexington-kentucky-downtowns-top-ten/
  • Alfalfa, http://www.alfalfarestaurant.com/aboutus.html
  • Old Hickory Bar-B-Que, http://oldhickorybar-b-q.com/about-old-hickory-bar-b-q/

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

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