Culinary Arts Schools in North Carolina

North Carolina is a bedrock of the southern cuisine scene, with multiple hotspots for traditional southern fare: barbeque, banana pudding, fried chicken, Cajun-fusion and more. From the famous North Carolina pork barbeque at Bill Spoon's Barbeque in Charlotte to the maple salmon at Saint Jacques in Raleigh, the state offers a diverse range of culinary options that span the spectrum of cultures, cooking techniques and palettes.

Culinary Arts

The state is home to numerous food destinations, including Charlotte, the college town of Asheville, Winston-Salem and more. In fact, Bourbon & Boots named Winston-Salem the #1 most overlooked foodie town in the South in 2014 and CNN Money named Durham the #2 most up-and-coming foodie destination in the country in 2013.

Award-winning North Carolina chefs

In 2014 alone, 11 chefs and restauranteurs were named semifinalists for James Beard Awards. And Ashley Christensen, of Poole's Diner in Raleigh, won the Southeast Chef award. These eight chefs in North Carolina were nominated for the award:

  1. Vivian Howard (Chef & the Farmer, Kinston)
  2. Ashley Christensen (Poole's Diner, Raleigh)
  3. Scott Crawford (Herons, Cary)
  4. Colin Bedford (The Fearrington House, Pittsboro)
  5. Scott Howell (Nana's, Durham)
  6. Aaron Vandemark (Panciuto, Hillsborough)
  7. Meherwan Irani (Chai Pani, Asheville)
  8. Matt Kelly (Mateo, Durham)

In Best Chefs America's 2014, an annual, peer-driven ranking of the country's best chefs, 109 individuals in North Carolina were nominated and recommended by their peers. For example, the following two chefs were recognized in 2014:

  • Edwin Bloodworth (Asheville). Bloodworth is the chef of Lex 18, a fine dining club that sources local foods, Appalachian meats and is dedicated to preserving Prohibition Era jazz music.
  • Bruce Moffett (Charlotte). Chef Moffett is a North Carolina powerhouse, operating three restaurants in Charlotte: Barrington's, Good Food on Montford and Stagioni.

Famous North Carolina restaurants

North Carolina is quickly building a reputation for attracting top-flight culinary talent and restaurants, many of which are garnering critical acclaim from Forbes, Wine and Spectator and more. In 2014, eight restaurants in North Carolina earned 5- and 4-star or recommended rankings from Forbes Travel Guide. The 5-star winning restaurants in North Carolina included the following:

Herons. Located within The Umstead Hotel and Spa, Herons is a 98-seat American dining establishment with a 2,500 bottle wine cellar and has been recognized for its culinary excellence by Food & Wine, Southern Living, Condé Nast Traveler and more.

The Fearrington House Restaurant. Located in Chapel Hill, Executive Chef Colin Bedford offers diners an upscale American menu built on French techniques. It is committed to sourcing local, fresh ingredients for the ever-changing menu.

The 4-star winning restaurants in North Carolina included:

  • Carolina Crossroads Restaurant (Chapel Hill)
  • Fairview Dining Room (Durham)
  • Gallery Restaurant (Charlotte)

Zagat also recognizes the North Carolina culinary world, reviewing and ranking some of the top restaurants in that state's largest municipality, Charlotte. The five highest Zagat-rated restaurants in Charlotte include:

  1. Barrington's (American)
  2. Fiamma (Italian)
  3. Good Food on Montford (American)
  4. Carpe Diem (American)
  5. Toscana (Italian)

North Carolina culinary schools & career outlook

The culinary industry in North Carolina is a driving force in the state, employing nearly 430,000 individuals, according to the National Restaurant Association. There are more than 17,500 eating and dining establishments in North Carolina that produce approximately $15.9 billion in annual sales.

For many, becoming a chef begins with attending a culinary school. In North Carolina, prospective students have numerous educational options and potential career paths to pursue. Graduating from a culinary school could set the groundwork for taking part in an apprenticeship in France (a "stage") or rolling up sleeves to join a newly launched restaurant.

Within the culinary field, there are four main educational and professional concentrations that you can choose while attending North Carolina Culinary Schools:

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

Whether the goal is to become a chef, caterer, sous chef, restaurant manager or even a restauranteur, a culinary education can prepare students for entry-level positions within a growing industry. In North Carolina, the National Restaurant Association projected 14 percent employment growth in 2014 for the restaurant industry in the state -- evidence of a growing demand for a skilled, trained workforce.

Individual careers, including food service managers, bakers and chefs are projected to see solid employment growth between 2012 and 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Below is a table of the overall career outlook for bakers, chefs, and food service managers in North Carolina.

OccupationTotal Employment in North Carolina (2013)Average Salary in North Carolina (2013)% Job Growth in North Carolina (2012-22)
Bakers 4,520 $22,460 7%
Chefs and Head Cooks 1,660 $49,330 8.1%
Food Service Managers 4,190 $57,830 5.7%

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

At the local level, the largest opportunities are concentrated in four metropolitan areas: Charlotte, Raleigh-Cary, Greensboro and Asheville. In 2014, those areas employed a total of 5,600 individuals as chefs, bakers and restaurant managers, respectively.

As North Carolina continues to attract attention to its culinary industry, garners new culinary investments and has restaurateurs pushing the proverbial envelope, the state should be an appealing option for prospective students considering attending a culinary school in the state.

Check out the list of North Carolina culinary schools to start your career today.


  • Bourbon & Boots, http://www.bourbonandboots.com/eight-most-overlooked-foodie-towns-in-the-south/
  • Bruce Moffett, https://www.bestchefsamerica.com/bruce-moffett?filter_search=&filter_state=nc&page=2
  • Lex18, lex18avl.com
  • Heron's, http://www.theumstead.com/dining/restaurants-raleigh-nc
  • Fearrington House Restaurant, http://www.fearrington.com/fearrington-house-restaurant/
  • Forbes, Restaurant Rankings, http://www.forbestravelguide.com/restaurant
  • National Restaurant Association, North Carolina, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2014/north-carolina
  • CNN, 7 up-and-coming foodie destinations, http://money.cnn.com/gallery/luxury/2014/12/23/foodie-destinations/2.html
  • Projections Central, Florida, projectionscentral.com
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina, Occupational and Employment Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nc.htm
  • 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 North Carolina .

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Other North Carolina Culinary Schools

School Name City or Town Programs Offered
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College Asheville Culinary Arts
Appalachian State University Boone Hospitality and Tourism Management (BSBA)
Central Piedmont Community College Charlotte Baking & Pastry Arts
Johnson & Wales University - Charlotte Campus Charlotte Bachelors Baking & Pastry Arts and Food Service Management
Western Carolina University Cullowhee Foods & Nutrition Studies
North Carolina Central University Durham Foods & Nutrition Studies
Alamance Community College Graham Culinary Technology
University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro Recreation, Tourism &Hospitality Management
East Carolina University Greenville Hospitality Management
Guilford Technical College Jamestown Culinary Technology (AAS)
Lenoir Community College Kinston Culinary Arts
Harrison College - The Chef's Academy - Morrisville Morrisville Culinary Arts
Sandhills Community College Pinehurst Baking and Pastry Arts
Wake Technical College Raleigh Hospitality Services Management
North Carolina Wesleyan College Rocky Mount Hospitality Management
Wilkes Community College Wilkesboro Baking & Pastry Arts
Cape Fear Community College Wilmington Culinary Technology Associate of Applied Science Program