North Dakota Culinary Schools & Institutes

North Dakota cuisine is more varied than one might expect. The North Dakota State University Agricultural Extension cites influences as diverse as Bosnian, Kurdish, Somali and Vietnamese, though these dishes are far less common than those linked to the state's Native American and Scandinavian roots. North Dakota is home to the nation's largest Scandinavian population, a distinction it celebrates with a gusto. Every October travelers from across the globe converge in North Dakota to attend Norsk Høstfest, the biggest Scandinavian festival in North America. This five-day celebration spotlights prominent chefs and iconic dishes from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, dishes still regularly served in North Dakota homes.

Culinary Arts

Culinary students who study here will find that not all North Dakota food is Eurocentric. Native American families cook up fry bread tacos, cranberry wojapits and other traditional dishes. Local agriculture and modern American food trends also influence North Dakota cuisine, as anyone who has devoured a juicy bison burger can attest. Shared family meals are an important part of North Dakota daily life, but burgeoning restaurant scenes in cities like Fargo and Bismark are ratcheting up the state's foodie status -- and its culinary job market.

Famous North Dakota restaurants

Traveler once published that North Dakota is more famous for pop-culture depictions than its culinary prowess, but this is changing. This is good news for graduates of North Dakota culinary schools. North Dakota's current cache of highly-rated venues feature global specialties, locally-sourced and artisan ingredients and at least two James Beard Award chef nominees. Here are some of the state's most popular restaurants.

  • HoDo: This fine dining restaurant is located inside Fargo's circa-1893 Hotel Donaldson. Guest can order root-beer-braised ribs, bison stakes and filet mignon prepared by co-chefs Ryan Nitschke and Nick Weinhandl, both of whom were nominated for the James Beard Foundation's Best Midwestern Chef award.
  • The Peacock Alley: The Peackock Alley has been one of downtown Bismarck's premier restaurants since the end of Prohibition, though if local rumor is on-point, it served as a speakeasy and brothel over the two decades preceding it. Thrillest reports that Peacock Alley has played host to such big names as Calvin Coolidge, JFK and Joe Louis, to name a few. The Culture Trip describes Peacock's cuisine as innovative and high-quality and ranks its steaks among the very best in the state.
  • The Würst Bier: The Würst Bier, located not far from Fargo's Moorhead Opera, is a popular hang-out for customers with a passion for quality ales and cigars. This German-style bierkeller serves bratwurst, schnitzel and brined meats alongside Belgian and Netherlander craft beers.
  • Nichole's Fine Pastry: A Culture Trip describes Nichole's as one of the most popular pastry shops in North Dakota, which is high praise for a state with a Scandinavian adoration for all things pastry. Its gelato, Black Forest cake and assorted pastries are a hit, but those looking for something more classically American can opt for New England clam chowder, roast pork or vegetable salads.
  • Mezzaluna: Situated near Fargo Theatre, Mezzaluna is set in a circa-1926 art building in the Lofts on Roberts Alley. This fine dining institution's Chef Eric Watson is known for his love of classic American cuisine and locally-sourced ingredients. Popular dishes include artisan cheese plates, maple-glazed salmon and prosciutto-wrapped shrimp.

All of these establishments offer students attending culinary schools in North Dakota an opportunity to flex their budding culinary skills in a highly-rated restaurant, under the direction of experienced chefs, but competition can be fierce for positions in reputable kitchens. Fortunately, North Dakota's culinary market is growing and formally trained candidates likely have an edge in tomorrow's job market.

North Dakota culinary arts schools & career outlook

North Dakota's culinary market is growing, but some jobs and cities are in better shape than others. The National Restaurant Association reports that the state's restaurant industry accounted for nearly 41 thousand jobs in 2015, and will add 4,000 over the next decade. The following table offers a snapshot of key career trends for specific culinary jobs in North Dakota, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Projections Central.

OccupationTotal Employment in North Dakota (2014)Average Salary in North Dakota (2014)% Job Growth in North Dakota (2012-2022)
Chefs and Head Cooks 330 $41,010 19.5%
Bakers 630 $29,020 17.8%
Food Service Managers 460 $60,090 21.1%
Restaurant Cooks 2,859 $24,190 N/A
Bartenders 3,530 $19,660 N/A
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013, and Projections Central

Culinary jobs tend to congregate in larger population centers, and for North Dakota, that means the Fargo, Bismarck and Grand Forks metros. This table sheds light on the culinary job trends within these major economic centers.

LocationOccupationsTotal Employed (2014)Average Salary (2014)
Fargo Metro Food Service Managers 220 $59,600
Chefs and Head Cooks 70 $46,910
Bakers 250 $37,040
Bismarck Metro Food Service Managers 100 $51,210
Chefs and Head Cooks N/A $43,060
Bakers 80 $25,700
Grand Forks Metro Food Service Managers 60 $57,080
Chefs and Head Cooks N/A $36,900
Bakers 60 $24,580

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

All of this information offers insight into the type of culinary jobs that are in demand within North Dakota, but research from the BLS suggests training can correlate with hireability as much as geography. In other words, employers prefer to hire candidates with more training and experience giving students attending culinary schools in North Dakota an edge for competitive jobs. These programs offer training in several hospitality-related areas. Among them:

The key to making it in North Dakota's culinary job market is finding a program that is in-demand and speaks to one's passions. This requires research. Check out the North Dakota culinary schools featured here to get started.


  • "HoDo has 2 chefs as James Beard semifinalists," Inforum, February 19, 2014, http://www.inforum.com/content/hodo-has-2-chefs-james-beard-semifinalists
  • "North Dakota Restaurant Industry At a Glance," National Restaurant Association, 2015, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2015/ND_Restaurants2015
  • "May 2014 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm
  • "May 2014 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Utah," Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 25, 2015, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nd.htm
  • Norsk Høstfest, http://hostfest.com/
  • "Fargo, North Dakota: A New Midwestern Food Destination," Conde Nast Traveler.
  • http://www.cntraveler.com/galleries/2014-10-21/fargo-north-dakota-a-new-midwestern-food-destination
  • "The Oldest Restaurant in Every State (And DC!)," Thrillest, October 31, 2014, Matt Meltzer, http://www.thrillist.com/travel/nation/oldest-restaurant-in-every-state-and-dc
  • http://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/north-dakota/articles/the-10-best-restaurants-local-eats-in-north-dakota/
  • "North Dakota Food and Culture: A Taste of World Cuisine," Agricultural Extension Service, North Dakota State University, http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1513.pdf

This list also contains online schools that accept students from North Dakota .

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