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Home | Culinary Schools & Culinary Colleges | Culinary Schools by State | Ohio

Culinary Arts Schools in Ohio

Major culinary destinations like New York, Miami and San Francisco may get all the glory, but many of America's most iconic cuisine resides in its heart: the great Midwest. Case in point: Ohio, with its diversity of cultural food influences and foodie-centric cities like Cleveland. The Buckeye State has also dished up a heaping serving of award-winning chefs and restaurateurs, including Iron Chef Michael Symon and several more James Beard award winners and nominees. Ohio culinary schools teach future professionals how to following in their footsteps, preparing and reinventing classic Midwestern cuisine. Read on to learn more about Ohio's food culture, including top dishes, restaurants and employment trends.

Culinary Arts

The dish: iconic buckeye cuisine

Ohio is a historical cultural melting pot, once drawing pioneers and settlers from Germany, France and the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Perhaps nowhere is this diversity more apparent than in the state's culinary heritage. Some of Ohio's most iconic foods are deceivingly humble: baked beans and salt pork introduced by New England transplants following the Revolutionary war; the sausages, sauerkraut and hearty potato dishes of German settlers; and the jams, pies and cheeses of the state's sizeable Amish and Swiss communities. Other Ohio's culinary traditions are truly homegrown. Think: Cleveland's famous chili and Cincinnati's trademark pork dishes, which hint to the city's legendary hog roots. Still, many of Ohio's most famous dishes are regional.

Ohio culinary arts job trends

Ohio is quickly becoming a haven for both established and rising star chefs, particularly in major culinary arts centers like Cleveland and Cincinnati (more on these metros below). That means competition for top culinary jobs can be fierce. Candidates who attend culinary schools in Ohio often graduate not only having mastered basic skills, but also a regional culinary savvy that separates them from lesser-trained chefs and transplants. Not all graduates work in kitchens, either: Culinary degree programs strive to prepare students to work as hotel and restaurant managers, butchers (a major industry in Ohio), and even culinary stylists.

The following chart details average 2013 wages and long-term employment projections for several relevant jobs.

Job TitleTotal Employment in Ohio (2013)Average Salary in Ohio (2013)% Job Growth in Ohio (2012-2022)
Chefs and Head Cooks 3,310 $41,230 4.8%
Restaurant Cooks 35,460 $21,520 13.7%
First Line Kitchen Supervisors 33,410 $29,540 11.9%
Food Service Managers 9,020 $48,050 0%
Bakers 7,650 $24,470 0.6%
Butchers 6,480 $29,200 0.4%

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

Keep in mind that earnings and employment potential can improve with experience and training, which can make Ohio culinary schools exceedingly valuable for new and untested professionals. Where you live matters, too. Let's review some of Ohio's two largest culinary arts centers along with their food cultures and culinary trends.

Bite-by-bite: Ohio's major culinary centers

Ohio's food culture shifts from one region to the next, so its through some of its best known culinary metros that offer the best windows into the state's culinary soul. Here is a look at some of major culinary regions that define Ohio cuisine.

Spotlight: The Cleveland Metro

Cleveland is perhaps the strongest contender for culinary arts capital of Ohio. Several notable chefs were born or set their roots here, like Cleveland native and Iron Chef Michael Symon, farm-to-table culinary aficionado Parker Bosley, Michael Ruhlman, and several more James Beard award winners and nominees, including Rocco Whalen, Zack Bruell and Jonathon Sawyer.

Cleveland cuisine

In 2014, the Cleveland Plain Dealer asked several Cleveland-area chefs which foods they consider to be truly Cleveland-esque. The three dishes that truly stood out:

  • Beef cheek pierogies. Served with a side of crème fraiche, this is a top seller at Symon's flagship restaurant Lola.
  • The Polish boy. This Easter-European-inspired sausaged topped with fries and hot sauce.
  • Pork chops. Chef Doug Katz, founder of Food Fire & Drink, sources his pork locally and serves it with Amish-made grits and an arugula salad with strawberry-mustard vinaigrette.

One culinary arts trend that did not originate in Cleveland, but has influenced its cuisine significantly in recent years, is the farm-to-table movement. According to The Plain Dealer, there were about 53 community supported agriculture programs operating in Northeast Ohio in 2014, and many local chefs have nurtured relationships with area growers. Scratch-made foods like in-house smoked salmon have become prevalent, and many restaurants proudly display sources and craft producers on their menus. The farm-fresh and local movement has even changed the way many Cleveland chefs cook, and, in turn, the way some culinary schools in Ohio teach. More on this later.

Top Cleveland-area restaurants

Culinary school graduates who want to work their way into the budding food mecca that is Cleveland will find no shortage of top-rated restaurants (and their respective chefs). The following restaurants are just a few of those that made The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Top 100 area restaurants of 2014.

  • Lola Bistro. The Plain Dealer called Chef Symon's flagship restaurant an "artsy" eatery dishing up fresh fish, poultry and a diversity of "voluptuous veggies." It earned 28 points in Zagat's survey that year.
  • Cowell & Hubbard. This is the flagship restaurant of rising chef Zack Bruell, who The Play Dealer describes as Cleveland's "most painterly chef" when it comes to big flavor. C&H dishes up precision cooked meats (including several uncommon cuts) in a decidedly "swanky" setting.
  • Fahrenheit. Fahrenheit in Tremont regularly adorns the top of best restaurant rankings lists, an honor The Plain Dealer says it thoroughly deserves. Founded by James Beard nominated chef Rocco Whalen, Fahrenheit features what the dealer describes as "eclectic" cuisine notable for their wide range of flavors.
  • Sokolowski's University Inn. Sokolowski's holds the distinction of being Cleveland's oldest family owned and operated restaurant. Specializing in Polish and Eastern European Cuisine, Sokolowski's is so iconic that it won the James Beard Foundation's America's Classic award in 2014.

Cleveland culinary job trends

We have already established that Cleveland is one of Ohio's most prevalent culinary centers, but its food industry is continuously evolving. The recent food-to-table push is an excellent example of how these shifts redefine what Cleveland-area culinary pros do, but how they learn.

"Basic skills and techniques are very much in evidence, unlike even five years ago," Chef Bosley, a farm boy-turned chef and CSA chef-consultant, told The Plain Dealer. "You have to know how to sauté or reduce. You have to know how to make really good stock. And I see more people doing this."

Of course, not all graduates of Ohio culinary colleges move to Cleveland to become chefs, and earnings and outlook can vary tremendously from one job to the next. The following chart includes 2013 salary information for several Cleveland-area food and hospitality jobs, as reported by the BLS.

Job TitleMean Annual Wage, Cleveland, May 2013 (BLS.gov)
Chefs and Head Cooks $41,070
Restaurant Cooks $21,810
First Line Kitchen Supervisors $29,280
Food Service Managers $51,810
Bakers $25,080
Lodging Managers $54,810

The Ohio Bureau of Labor Market Information projects that employment for all food service professionals in the metro will grow by 7.1 percent, and for accommodations professionals by 6.8 percent between 2010 and 2020, the most recent term available. Restaurant chefs are in particularly high demand, comparatively speaking, with a 10.1 percent projected gain for the same period. As always, location is only one factor that can drive earnings and opportunities. Training via Ohio culinary schools, work experience and job performance matter, too.

Spotlight: Cincinnati-area cuisine

Cincinnati has its share of high-end and elegant restaurants, but its traditional cuisine is hearty and unpretentious. Many of its staples are pork-based, a nod to the legendary hot industry that, according to Food Timeline, earned it the name Porkopolis. While Cincinnati has not historically had the same foodie haven status as Cleveland, WCPO reports that in 2014, as part of its "Cincy in New York Week," the James Beard House dedicated an entire evening to Cincinnati cooking. several famous Cincinnati-area chefs were showcased, including: Jose Salazar, Jean-Robert de Cavel, David Falk, Stephen Williams, David Cook, Jean Philippe Solnom and Julie Francis.

Traditional Cincinnati cuisine

Cincinnati's local cuisine is influenced heavily by both its industrial and cultural history. Pork is ever present, as are the schnitzels and Bavarian dishes that epitomize its German heritage. Among its best known and loved dishes:

  • Chili. According to Cincinnati local Cliff Lower, a columnist for In Mama's Kitchen, Cincinnati has become known as the "Chili Capital of America," thanks, in part, to the fact that it has more chili restaurants per capita than any other city in the nation (and the world, for that matter). These restaurants include the likes of Skyline, Gold Star, Camp Washington and Dixie Chili and Deli, and locals often squabble about which is best.
  • Cheese coney. In 2013, Food Republic called this steamed hot dog -- traditionally topped with onions, cheddar, mustard, and local tangy-but-sweet chili -- the "pride of Cincinnati."
  • Goetta. Goetta is a German-inspired local breakfast delicacy featuring steel-cut oats and thin-sliced ground pork that has been griddle-fried until crispy. According to Food Republic, it is a carnivore delight.

Top Cincinnati-area restaurants

Cincinnati's culinary establishments range from casual and homey to swanky and refined. The following are just a few of its best known restaurants.

  • Salazar. Salazar Restaurant and Bar was founded by notable chef Jose Salazar in Cincinnati's historic Over the Rhine neighborhood. It describes its farm-inspired menu as "creative and refined, yet playful and approachable." Cleveland Magazine named Salazar one of the best restaurants in the city in 2014.
  • Boca. Boca is the flagship restaurant of local chef David Falk and features dishes that are at once comforting and complex. Cleveland Magazine calls Boca a "powerful and refined… aria that shatters conventional expectations."
  • Skyline Chili. Skyline Chili is only one of a plethora of popular chili joints in Cincinnati, but is certainly one of its most famous. Skyline was founded in 1949 by Greek immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides whose iconic chili recipe remains a closely-guarded secret.

Cincinnati culinary job trends

As with Cleveland, Cincinnati's job market is wholly unique. Earnings and career outlook can vary tremendously from one job title to the next, and can be influenced by several variables, like training, experience and job performance. The following table highlights average 2013 annual earnings for Cincinnati-area culinary professionals, as reported by the BLS.

Job TitleMean Annual Wage, Cleveland, May 2013 (BLS.gov)
Chefs and Head Cooks $43,950
Restaurant Cooks $20,880
First Line Kitchen Supervisors $30,890
Food Service Managers $48,930
Bakers $28,170
Lodging Managers $49,960

Demand for culinary and hospitality professionals in Cincinnati also varies, but prospects are generally a bit brighter than in Cleveland and Ohio at large. The Ohio BLMI projects that demand for food service professionals will grow by 10.9 percent in the Cincinnati metro between 2010 and 2020. Restaurant cooks and butchers will be in particularly high demand, with employment projections of 14% and 13.1%, respectively.

More Ohio metros

Cleveland and Cincinnati are only two of Ohio's largest culinary centers. Students attending culinary schools in Ohio may want to research other major cities, too. Columbus, for instance, is an excellent example of an up-and-coming market that is quickly becoming a magnet for well regarded culinary experts like James Beard Award nominees Richard Blondin and Doug Katz. You can learn more about job opportunities in Columbus and other Ohio metros by visiting the BLS and the Ohio BLMI online. Contact or visit culinary schools in Ohio to learn more about your training options.

Launch your Ohio culinary career

This guide offers a high-level introduction to Ohio's culinary scene, and those of two of its largest food-centric metros, but it is no substitute for immersing yourself in Buckeye cuisine. We recommend visiting Ohio restaurants and even shadowing chefs and other hospitality professionals to get a sense for the local market. It is also helpful to visit, or at least research, several culinary colleges in Ohio before settling on one specific program.

Sources:

  • "Traditional state foods & recipes: Ohio," Food Timeline, http://www.foodtimeline.org/statefoods.html#ohio
  • "Is there a 'Cleveland cuisine?' Northeast Ohio chefs weigh in on the uniqueness of our food scene," Cleveland Plain Dealer, July, 2014, David Farkas, http://www.cleveland.com/dining/index.ssf/2014/07/is_there_a_cleveland_cuisine_n.html
  • "The Top 10 Chefs You Need To Know In Columbus, OH," The Braiser, April 3, 2014, Tina Nguyen, http://www.thebraiser.com/10-chefs-in-columbus/#1
  • "The Lola Moment," Cleveland Magazine, November, 2006, Michael Ruhlman, http://www.clevelandmagazine.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=586CA122EB394032BD4AA3B686FF03D9&nm=Editorial&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=1578600D80804596A222593669321019&tier=4&id=B01BC7AD8EEE45EA9DFF674FFEBA0457
  • About Rocco Whalen, Chef Rocco Whalen, http://www.chefroccowhalen.com/bio/
  • "Best New Chefs: Jonathon Sawyer," Food & Wine, 2010, http://www.foodandwine.com/best_new_chefs/jonathon-sawyer
  • About Sawyer, Jonathon Sawyer, http://jonathonsawyer.com/aboutchef/
  • "The Life and Times of Cincinnati Chili," In Mama's Kitchen, Cliff Lowe, http://www.inmamaskitchen.com/FOOD_IS_ART/cliff/chilarttwo.html
  • "Cleveland's Top 100 restaurants: The complete A-List," Cleveland Plain Dealer, Joe Crea, April 25, 2014, http://www.cleveland.com/top-restaurants/index.ssf/2014/04/clevelands_top_100_restaurants_the_2014_a-list.html
  • "Turning the Tables," Zack Bruell, http://zackbruell.com/bruell-presskit.pdf
  • "20 Great Things to Eat and Drink in Ohio," Food Republic, Marcy, 30, 2013, Joshua M. Bernstein, http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/03/30/20-great-things-eat-and-drink-ohio
  • "The Top 10 Chefs You Need To Know In Columbus, OH," The Braiser, April 3, 2014, Tina Nguyen, http://www.thebraiser.com/10-chefs-in-columbus/#1
  • "Two Northeast Ohio Chefs are Semi-Finalists for James Beard award," Cleveland+, February 26, 2014, http://www.clevelandplus.com/en/News-and-Press/CLE_plus-News/2014/February/Northeast-Ohio-Chefs-Semifinalists-for-James-Beard-Award.aspx
  • America's Classic, JBF Awards, James Beard Foundation, 2014, http://www.jamesbeard.org/awards/americas-classics?year%5Bvalue%5D%5Byear%5D=2014
  • May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Ohio, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_oh.htm
  • May 2013 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014,
  • http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oessrcma.htm
  • Projections Central, Ohio, projectionscentral.com
  • Ohio Job Outlook, Ohio Labor Market, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Bureau of Labor Market Information, 2010, http://ohiolmi.com/proj/OhioJobOutlook.htm
  • "The Story of Skyline Chili," Skyline Chili, http://www.skylinechili.com/our-story.php
  • Best Restaurants, Cincinnati Magazine, 2014, http://www.cincinnatimagazine.com/bestrestaurants/
  • "Cincinnati chefs bring 'local' cooking to New York's James Beard House," WCPO, may 11, 2014, Matt Peiken, http://www.wcpo.com/lifestyle/food/cincinnati-chefs-bring-local-cooking-to-new-yorks-james-beard-house

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

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Other Ohio Culinary Schools

School Name City or Town Programs Offered
University of Akron Main Campus Akron Culinary Arts/Chef Training
Ashland County - West Holmes Career Center Ashland Culinary Arts/Chef Training
Ashland University Ashland Hospitality Services Management
Bowling Green State University - Main Campus Bowling Green Foods & Nutrition Studies
International Arts and Science Institute Chesterland Culinary Arts
Midwest Culinary Institute At Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Cincinnati Culinary Arts Technology
Professional Bartending Schools of America Cincinnati Bartending/Bar Management
University of Cincinnati - Main Campus Cincinnati Hospitality Management
Cuyahoga Community College District Cleveland Culinary Arts
Bradford School - Columbus Columbus Culinary Arts
Columbus Culinary Institute at Bradford School. Columbus Culinary Arts
Columbus State Community College Columbus Culinary Apprenticeship Major
Ohio State University - Main Campus Columbus Food Sciences and Tech.
Sinclair Community College Dayton Culinary Arts/Chef Training
Lorain County Community College Elyria Culinary Arts
Kent State University-Main Campus Kent Hospitality Management
Lakeland Community College Kirtland Culinary Arts
Hocking Technical College Nelsonville Baking
Ursuline College Pepper Pike Hospitality Services Management
Tiffin University Tiffin Hospitality Services Management
Owens Community College - Toledo Campus Toledo Culinary Arts
Central State University Wilberforce Hospitality Management
Youngstown State University Youngstown Hospitality Services Management
Zane State College Zanesville Culinary Arts/Chef Training