Culinary Arts Schools in New Jersey
New Jersey is quietly becoming one of the country's culinary hot spots, driven by an influx of critically acclaimed restaurateurs from New York City and beyond. And restaurant investors are jumping in to take advantage of both the state's lower rents and its increasingly competitive culinary market. From the kielbasa served at the Frog and the Peach in New Brunswick to the French fare offered at Lorena's in Maplewood, New Jersey has something for every palette.
Although New York may dominate the East Coast food scene, New Jersey is no slouch: it is home to James Beard award-winning chefs, nationally recognized restaurants, and independent restauranteurs launching new establishments that are pushing culinary trends forward. New Jersey's culinary industry is both turning out and attracting top-flight chefs and restaurants.
For example, more than 200 chefs in New Jersey were included in the 2014 Best Chefs list by Best Chefs America -- an annual publication that ranks the country's best chefs through a peer nomination process. Here are five of the chefs who were recognized in 2014:
- J.R. Belt (Stage Left, New Brunswick). In addition to having its Stage Left burger highlighted by numerous publications, Wine and Spectator also gave Stage Left an Award of Excellence in 2013.
- Chris Connors (Anton's At The Swan, Flemington). Anton's At The Swan is a Zagat-rated establishment that offers an American menu, patio seating and a bar.
- Jeffrey Orel (Denville Meat Shop, Morristown). A butcher shop, Denville Meat Shop also offers cooking classes, catering services, and a full sandwich menu.
- Marianne Powell (A Little Café, Camden). Opened in 1998, A Little Café has garnered excellent ratings from Zagat, and sources ingredients from local sources.
- Gaspard Coloz (Madeline's Petit Paris, Hackensack). A family-operated establishment, Madeline's Petit Paris presents French cuisine in a fine dining atmosphere.
The state's culinary diversity mirrors the state's population, offering a smorgasbord of dining options, from French to American, molecular gastronomy to locally sourced meals. Individual foodie pockets continue to spring up across the state in areas such as Jersey City, Camden, Hackensack and more -- each of which are introducing a new generation of eateries and restaurants alongside longtime, well-established local favorites.
The culinary industry in New Jersey is a driving economic force in the state, one that employs more than 322,000 individuals, according to the National Restaurant Association. The industry produces approximately $14.6 billion in annual sales across more than 18,000 eating and drinking establishments.
Famous New Jersey restaurants
In 2014, 16 restaurants in New Jersey received recognition from Zagat's annual ranking of restaurants, based on food, décor and popularity. In the best food category, the five highest-ranked New Jersey establishments were:
- Nicolas (Middletown)
- Lorena's (Maplewood)
- De Lorenza's Tomato Pies (Robbinsville)
- Shumi (Somerville)
- Drew's Bayshore Bistro
And these 10 restaurants were on NJ.com's 2014 list of the top, most influential restaurants in the state:
- A Toute Heure (Cranford)
- Cucharamama (Hoboken) -- featuring Maricel Presilla, a two-time James Beard award winner
- The Farm and Fisherman Tavern + Market (Cherry Hill)
- Jockey Hollow (Morristown) -- backed by James Beard-winning and Michelin star-rated restauranteur, Chris Cannon
- LP Steak (Northfield)
- Maritime Parc (Jersey City)
- Mehndi (Morristown)
- Mistral (Princeton)
- Thirty Acres (Jersey City)
- Zeppoli (Collingswood)
Jersey City is one area garnering much attention for its culinary revolution and is becoming known as a go-to place for innovation and experimentation in the kitchen. The New York Post profiled the region, describing it as a "foodie destination" and listed six local establishments that are bringing attention to the area:
- Cocoa Bakery
- Sam A.M.
- Milk Sugar Love
- Park & Sixth Gastropub
New Jersey culinary schools and career outlook
Indeed, there is no single path to becoming a chef or entering the culinary industry. But one solid starting point is attending a culinary school in New Jersey. Graduating from a culinary schools could pave the path to several career opportunities -- from sous chef to pastry chef, caterer to restaurant manager -- in the following areas:
- Culinary arts
- Baking & pastry arts
- Culinary management
- Hospitality management
Indeed, graduates of New Jersey culinary schools have the opportunity to draw from many sources.
Restaurant employment growth was muted in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and statewide career growth for chefs, bakers and restaurant managers is expected to remain somewhat flat between 2012 and 2022.
Below is a table of the overall career outlook for bakers, chefs, and food service managers in New Jersey:
|Occupation||Total Employment in New Jersey (2013)||Average Salary in New Jersey (2013)||% Job Growth in New Jersey (2012-22)|
|Chefs and Head Cooks||4,020||$57,370||3.8%|
|Food Service Managers||3,980||$69,200||2.4%|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013, and Projections Central
Locally, the best-paying opportunities for each profession in 2013 could be found in the following New Jersey metropolitan areas:
- Bakers. Edison-New Brunswick ($31,870)
- Chefs. Trenton-Ewing ($61,150)
- Restaurant managers. Atlantic City-Hammonton ($78,080)
As for employment opportunities, the following metropolitan areas were the largest employers of chefs, bakers and restaurant managers:
|Metro Area||2013 Employment|
|Newark-Union, NJ-PA Metropolitan Division||3,180|
|Edison-New Brunswick, NJ Metropolitan Division||2,640|
|Camden, NJ Metropolitan Division||1,450|
|Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ||640|
|Ocean City, NJ||50|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013
With growing investment into restaurants and the culinary industry at large, and a new wave of renowned restauranteurs in the state, New Jersey should be an attractive option for individuals thinking about pursuing a culinary education -- and career -- in the state.
Overall, experience is important when developing a career in the culinary world. Although a degree is not typically required for work in the restaurant sector, many find that a degree can help. Culinary schools in New Jersey are found in several cities, so there's no shortage of options for tomorrow’s chefs, pastry chefs and restaurant managers. Check out the list of New Jersey culinary schools below, and move forward in honing your cooking skills and culinary passions.
- A Little Café, http://alittlecafenj.com
- Antons at the Swan, http://www.antons-at-the-swan.com/index.xhtml
- Stage Left, http://www.stageleft.com/sl/dine/
- Denville Meat Shop, https://www.denvillemeatshop.com/sandwich-menu
- Madeline's Petit Paris, http://madeleinespetitparis.com/
- Best Chefs America, https://www.bestchefsamerica.com/the-chefs
- Zagat, New Jersey, http://www.zagat.com/new-jersey
- National Restaurant Association, New Jersey, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2014/new-jersey
- Projections Central, New Jersey, projectionscentral.com
- NewJersey.com, http://www.nj.com/inside-jersey/index.ssf/2014/10/30_best_meals_2014_jerseys_top_power_restaurants.html
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, New Jersey, Occupational and Employment Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nj.htm
- New York Post, Jersey City is the new foodie destination, http://nypost.com/2013/11/30/jersey-city-is-the-new-foodie-destination/