Culinary Schools in Maine

When it comes to food in Maine, lobster is king. By most estimates, the state supplies 75-80 percent of the country's lobster. Culinary schools in Maine undoubtedly pay special attention to the state's seafood, but learning how to perfect lobster rolls and lobster bisque is only part of the education students can receive at these institutions.

Culinary Arts

Students can expect to learn about a variety of cooking techniques, from classic to contemporary. And for those who would prefer to find a job outside the kitchen, culinary arts schools in Maine may have programs that focus on the business and management side of the food and hospitality industry.

Whether they decide to work in the back or at the front of the house, graduates will find that the food industry is growing in Maine. According to the National Restaurant Association, there were more than 3,000 eating and drinking establishments in the state in 2013. These locations accounted for 10 percent of all state employment in 2015, and the number of jobs is expected to grow 8.3 percent from 2015-2025.

Famous restaurants in Maine

While lobster may get most of the attention, Maine has a rich culinary scene with a wide variety of flavors and dishes. Wild blueberries are a trademark food item in the state, as is maple syrup. Of course, like other New England states, Maine also has a rich heritage of hearty Yankee fare that includes stews and wild game.

Some of the best restaurants in the state work to preserve Maine's food traditions and emphasize the use of locally sourced ingredients. Others are looking to put Maine on the culinary map by experimenting with contemporary cooking styles and ethnic cuisines. Here are a few of the notable establishments in the state.

  • Fore Street (Portland): Fore Street might just be the restaurant getting the most buzz in Maine right now. It landed in the #42 spot on The Daily Meal's list of 101 Best Restaurants in the nation for 2015. Open since 1996, the restaurant emphasizes local ingredients and was a semifinalist for the 2015 Outstanding Restaurant Award from the James Beard Foundation.
  • Tao Yuan (Brunswick): Cara Stadler, the owner and head chef at Tao Yuan, also got a nod from the James Beard Foundation in 2015. She was named a finalist for the Rising Star Chef of the Year award. Stadler mixes local ingredients with Asian influences to create a menu of memorable dishes.
  • The Black Birch (Kittery): At The Black Birch, a reclaimed wood bar and 24 rotating draft lines are waiting for diners. However, this isn't simply a place to grab a drink. The restaurant also offers up excellent food that highlights the best of the Maine culinary scene. According to foodie website, Eater.com, The Black Birch tops the 2014 list of essential Maine restaurants.
  • Waterman's Beach Lobster (South Thomaston): Those who head to the Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland may want to take a detour to Waterman's Beach Lobster. It's one of the ten best lobster shacks in Maine, according to Travel+Leisure Magazine.

Culinary schools & career outlook in Maine

The following chart provides a review of state employment opportunities for common culinary arts occupations. Students at culinary schools in Maine may find this information useful when deciding whether to remain in the state after graduation and move elsewhere to begin their career.

OccupationTotal Employment in Maine (2014)Average Salary in Maine (2014)% Job Growth in Maine (2012-2022)
Chefs and Head Cooks 660 $41,750 0.2%
First Line Supervisors of Food Prep and Service 3,770 $31,270 6.4%
Food Service Managers 1,060 $50,070 -3.2%

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

Job opportunities and salary potential may vary by location, and the chart below compares the Portland and Bangor metropolitan areas.

LocationOccupationsTotal Employed (2014)Average Salary (2014)
Portland Food Service Managers 410 $52,630
Chefs and Head Cooks 200 $42,770
First Line Supervisors of Food Prep and Service 1,220 $32,960
Cedar Rapids Food Service Managers 140 $58,950
Chefs and Head Cooks 50 $39,100
First Line Supervisors of Food Prep and Service 550 $31,070

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

Although Portland is home to the most job opportunities, some positions may pay better in other parts of the state. Lewiston, Portsmouth and Dover may also be home to jobs for culinary arts professionals.

Culinary schools in Maine can be a starting point for careers both in New England and beyond. Depending on their area of interest and educational program, students may learn everything from how to handle a knife properly to how to balance the books. These schools may also be able to provide insight into the local job scene or make connections between students and alumni or local industry professionals.


  • National Restaurant Association, Maine, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2014/maine
  • Projections Central, Maine, projectionscentral.com
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Massachusetts, Occupational and Employment Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_me.htm
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Portland-South Portland-Biddeford, ME Metropolitan Area, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_76750.htm
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bangor, ME Metropolitan Area http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_70750.htm
  • Maine Classic Foods, Visit New England, http://www.visit-maine.com/state/classic-foods-of-maine/
  • 2015 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists, James Beard Foundation, http://www.jamesbeard.org/blog/2015-restaurant-and-chef-award-semifinalists
  • From caught to bought, all about lobster economics, Jessica Hall, Portland Press Herald, August 11, 2012, http://www.pressherald.com/2012/08/11/market-forces-make-everyone-feel-the-pinch_2012-08-12/
  • Here Are the 2015 James Beard Awards Finalists, Daniela Galarza, March 24, 2015, Eater, http://www.eater.com/2015/3/24/8282707/james-beard-award-finalists-2015-restaurant-chef-book-journalism
  • The 18 Essential Main Restaurants, July 2014, Eater, http://maine.eater.com/maps/the-18-essential-maine-restaurants-july-2014
  • The 10 Best Lobster Shacks in Maine, Peter Jon Lindberg, June 14, 2012, http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/the-10-best-lobster-shacks-in-maine/2
  • Fore Street, http://www.forestreet.biz/
  • Tao Yuan, http://tao-yuan.me/index.html
  • The Black Birch, http://www.theblackbirch.com/About.html

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