Culinary Arts Schools in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is a big player in the culinary world, known for such favorites as the Philadelphia cheesesteak, Pennsylvania Dutch cooking, the Pennsylvania Pepper Pot, the Philadelphia style porter beer, and more. A combination of regional flavor profiles, the culinary tastes of the state blend traditional styles of the Pennsylvania Dutch, such as Chow-Chow to pretzels from Sturgis Pretzel House.
Aspiring chefs who are interested in culinary schools in Pennsylvania may be most interested in Philadelphia. Known as a culinary epicenter in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia has been attracting new chefs and restaurateurs during the past decade. Zagat has recognized the changes taking place and named some of the hottest restaurants in the area in 2014. Some of these restaurants included Brigantessa, Abe Fisher, Juniper Commons, Gran Café L'Aquila, Palladino's and more.
In Pennsylvania, the culinary arts industry is an $21 billion dollar per year business sector, one that employs more than 561,300 people across the state, according to the National Restaurant Association's 2016 data. With nearly 25,434 drinking and eating establishments across the state, the employment opportunities are both substantial and diverse for prospective graduates of culinary schools in Pennsylvania.
Famous Pennsylvania restaurants and chefs
Home to major cities such as Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has both home-grown culinary talent and has attracted new investments and restaurateurs from New York and beyond. For example, these three Pennsylvania establishments are helmed by James Beard Foundation award winners:
- Susanna Foo: Located in Radnor, Susanna Foo's is a namesake of Chef Susanna Foo, who has created one of the country's leading Asian fusion restaurants. A two-time James Beard award winner, Foo received training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
- Brûlée Catering: Founded by Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix, Brûlée Catering is famous for its exquisite catering of events in both Philadelphia and New Jersey. Winner of the 2001 "Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic" award from the James Beard Foundation, Lacroix received his initial training in France at the Thonon-les-Bains Culinary Academy.
- Frog Commissary Catering: James Beard winner Steve Poses founded Frog Commissary Catering in Philadelphia in 1976. A historical institution in the city, Frog Commissary Catering is known for its ability to deliver unique menus for a global array of palates and tastes.
In 2014, Pittsburgh Magazine recognized the 13 best chefs in the city, chefs who are influencing the restaurant and culinary scene through their innovative efforts. Some of those best chefs in Pittsburgh included:
- Chris Bonfili, Avenue B; B Gourmet
- Richard DeShantz, Meat & Potatoes; Butcher and the Rye
- Gloria Fortunato, Wild Rosemary
- Keith Fuller, Root 174
- Trevett Hooper, Legume Bistro
Pennsylvania culinary schools & career outlook
Culinary careers traditionally begin with attending and graduating from a culinary arts school. In Pennsylvania, there is a variety of educational avenues to pursue including Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, Hospitality Management and Baking & Pastry Arts. Completing a degree program from a Pennsylvania culinary school can set the foundation for employment both in and out of the kitchen, as a sous chef, chef de cuisine, pastry chef, baker, hospitality director and even, restaurant owner.
Looking ahead to 2026, the National Restaurant Association projects 7.9 percent growth in the field, representing 44,200 additional jobs across the state. According to employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individual careers such as chefs, bakers, and food service managers are projected to see mild job growth in Pennsylvania between 2012 and 2022. Below is a table of the career outlook, including employment and salaries for bakers, chefs, and food service managers in Pennsylvania.
|Region||Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Pennsylvania||Food Service Managers||5,860||$56,200|
|Pennsylvania||Chefs and Head Cooks||4,130||$47,590|
At the local level in Pennsylvania, the best-paying metropolitan areas for restaurant managers included York-Hanover, Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, Philadelphia, Reading, and Pittsburgh. For chefs and head cooks, the best paying opportunities included the following:
|Region||Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ||Chefs and Head Cooks||270||$52,160|
|Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ||Food Service Managers||480||$66,090|
|East Stroudsburg, PA||Chefs and Head Cooks||50||$48,230|
|East Stroudsburg, PA||Bakers||100||$24,570|
|East Stroudsburg, PA||Food Service Managers||90||$50,910|
|Erie, PA||Food Service Managers||190||$42,420|
|Erie, PA||Chefs and Head Cooks||90||$47,020|
|Gettysburg, PA||Chefs and Head Cooks||60||$38,700|
|Gettysburg, PA||Food Service Managers||60||$59,180|
|Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA||Chefs and Head Cooks||160||$43,590|
|Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA||Food Service Managers||380||$50,630|
|Lancaster, PA||Chefs and Head Cooks||190||$42,760|
|Lancaster, PA||Food Service Managers||260||$52,700|
|Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division||Food Service Managers||1,010||$65,150|
|Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division||Chefs and Head Cooks||630||$56,080|
|Philadelphia, PA Metropolitan Division||Bakers||810||$34,380|
|Pittsburgh, PA||Chefs and Head Cooks||1,070||$42,730|
|Pittsburgh, PA||Food Service Managers||1,140||$50,720|
|Reading, PA||Chefs and Head Cooks||110||$47,260|
|Reading, PA||Food Service Managers||130||$54,220|
|Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA||Food Service Managers||210||$61,400|
|Scranton--Wilkes-Barre--Hazleton, PA||Chefs and Head Cooks||100||$45,080|
|State College, PA||Bakers||50||$27,560|
|State College, PA||Chefs and Head Cooks||70||$36,610|
|State College, PA||Food Service Managers||190||$68,730|
|York-Hanover, PA||Chefs and Head Cooks||100||$45,960|
|York-Hanover, PA||Food Service Managers||100||$53,600|
As Pennsylvania's culinary tradition meets new restaurateurs, menus and investments, the state should continue to be a great place for students to complete their culinary education and embark upon a career in the ever expanding, ever growing culinary arts industry.
Though a degree is not required to enter the industry, culinary arts schools in Pennsylvania can give students a solid background. Many people will likely find that professional training helps to reassure employers that a job candidate is capable of carrying through on challenging tasks. In effect, Pennsylvania culinary schools offer degrees and certifications that help provide the technical knowledge and expertise needed to succeed in a professional setting. Be sure to explore the lists of culinary colleges in Pennsylvania below for more information.
- Forbes, Restaurant Rankings, http://www.forbestravelguide.com/restaurant
- National Restaurant Association, Pennsylvania, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2016/PA_Restaurants2016
- Zagat, 10 Hottest Restaurants in Philadelphia, http://www.zagat.com/b/philadelphia/10-hottest-new-restaurants-in-philadelphia#5
- Pittsburgh Magazine, Best in Class: Our 2014 Chefs of the Year, http://www.pittsburghmagazine.com/Pittsburgh-Magazine/June-2014/Best-in-Class-Our-2014-Chefs-of-the-Year/
- Projections Central, Pennsylvania, projectionscentral.com
- Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania, Occupational and Employment Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_pa.htm
- Forbes, Travel Guide Award Winners, http://blog.forbestravelguide.com/the-2014-forbes-travel-guide-star-award-winners