Culinary Arts Schools in Wisconsin

Wisconsin's food identity has long been established around three major staples: beer, sausage and cheese. From Usinger's Famous Sausage in Milwaukee to Baumgartner's Cheese Store & Tavern in Monroe, the state has a longstanding culinary tradition built on those staples. Students of culinary arts schools in Wisconsin will become familiar with the distinct flavors of historical Wisconsin, including Cornish pastries, sauerbraten (German pot roast), Ojibwe wild rice and lefse (Norwegian flatbread).

Culinary Arts

Additionally, students will find that the state's culinary scene is having a coming-of-age experience, with modern chefs creating new dining experiences while calling upon past influences. The culinary movement has introduced emerging trends to the state, such as organic farming, artisanal cheeses, molecular gastronomy, slow food and more.

According to the National Restaurant Association, the culinary industry in Wisconsin is worth $7.8 billion dollars annually. The state has nearly 12,000 eating and drinking establishments and more than 265,000 individuals working in the industry. For the prospective student considering culinary schools in Wisconsin, the emergence of foodie destinations, attraction of award winning restaurateurs and chefs, and a positive career outlook for the industry are all reasons why completing an education could be a smart investment.

Famous Wisconsin restaurants and chefs

It may come as a surprise, but chefs -in Wisconsin have garnered national attention during the past decade. For example, Zagat has ranked multiple restaurants in Milwaukee, which is an emerging food destination in its own right. Some of the top restaurants include Eddie Martini's, Sanford, Lake Park Bistro, Roots, and Osteria del Mondo. This recognition is well-founded, as the state has done well to develop and attract top-flight culinary talent in the kitchens. Chef David Swanson of Braise is a two-time James Beard Foundation winner for Best Chef Midwest, Executive Adam Siegel of Lake Park Bistro won the Best Chef Midwest award in 2008, and Chef Dan Van Rite of Hinterland is a three-time best chef nominee.

During the past two years, Chef Justin Aprahamian of Sanford in Milwaukee has become one of Wisconsin's most well-known chefs. Nominated for the James Beard Best Chef Midwest in 2013, he won the award in 2014. In 2015, four Wisconsin culinary talents were named semi-finalists for the annual James Beard Foundation awards, including the following:

  • Justin Carlisle (Ardent), Milwaukee
  • Dan Fox (Heritage Tavern), Madison
  • David Swanson (Braise), Milwaukee
  • Jonathan Hunter (Forequarter), Madison

In addition to the James Beard Foundation and Zagat, Forbes Travel Guide gave a four-star rating to The Immigrant Restaurant located in the historic American Club hotel in Kohler. Serving an updated American menu, the restaurant is known for its six rooms that each represent the cultural background of the state: French, Dutch, German, Danish, English and Norman.

Wisconsin culinary schools & career outlook

Considering attending culinary school in Wisconsin? Great choice. Culinary arts schools in Wisconsin offer students the most traditional avenues to starting a career in the culinary industry. Prospective students generally select from one of four educational options:

Those four subject areas serve as the top-level programs for career training to become a pastry chef, chef de cuisine, sous chef, restaurant manager, hospitality director, and more.

The National Restaurant Association projects a 6.1% career growth in Wisconsin between 2015 and 2025, creating another 16,000 jobs in the industry during that time. Three of the most common culinary positions include bakers, chefs, and food service managers. Below is a table of employment information for those careers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS):

OccupationTotal Employment in Wisconsin (2013)Average Salary in Wisconsin (2013)%Job Growth in Wisconsin (2012-2022)
Chefs and Head Cooks 3,290 $24,210 2.7%
Bakers 2,430 $34,570 4.8%
Food Service Managers 3,180 $48,720 6.0%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013

At the local level, the top employing metropolitan areas for bakers included Milwaukee-Wauskesha-West Allis (900), Madison (390), and Green Bay (290). For chefs, the metros with the highest employment totals included Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis (760), Madison (290), and Appleton (130). For bakers, the best areas included Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis (920), Madison (500), and Green Bay (230).

Salaries also varied by location. Below is a list of 2013 average salaries for culinary careers in three major metropolitan areas: Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay:

OccupationMilwaukeeMadisonGreen Bay
Chefs and Head Cooks $36,980 $33,220 $38,730
Bakers $24,790 $23,480 $48,510
Food Service Managers $57,380 $45,890 $22,770

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013

As Wisconsin's historic culinary traditions collide and merge with modern cooking trends and award winning restaurants push their kitchens into the future, the state should be an attractive, welcoming location for prospective culinary students to get a head-start on their careers.

Many have found a culinary school education can boost a career. Students interested in culinary arts, restaurant and hotel management, and baking and pastry arts can find courses in colleges located throughout the state. Get started on making your dream job a reality, and search through the list below of culinary schools in Wisconsin to find the programs right for you.


  • Forbes, Restaurant Rankings, http://www.forbestravelguide.com/restaurant
  • National Restaurant Association, Wisconsin, http://www.restaurant.org/Downloads/PDFs/State-Statistics/2014/wisconsin
  • Projections Central, Indiana, projectionscentral.com
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Pennsylvania, Occupational and Employment Wage Estimates, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_in.htm
  • WUVM, How Milwaukee Dished Up a Top-Rated Restaurant Scene, http://wuwm.com/post/how-milwaukee-dished-top-rated-dining-scene
  • Visit Milwaukee, James Beard Restaurants, http://www.visitmilwaukee.org/dining-nightlife/james-beard
  • Milwaukee Business Journal, Sanford Tops Zagat List of Best Milwaukee Restaurants, http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/blog/table_talk/2012/11/sanford-tops-zagat-list-of-best.html
  • Milwaukee Business Journal, Four Wisconsin Chefs Named James Beard Award Semifinalists, http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/blog/table_talk/2015/02/four-wisconsin-chefs-named-james-beard-award.html
  • Eatocracy, 2013 James Beard Awards: Chefs and restaurants winners are…, http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2013/05/06/2013-james-beard-awards-chefs-and-restaurants-winners-are/
  • 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 Wisconsin .

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            Other Wisconsin Culinary Schools

            School Name City or Town Programs Offered
            University of Wisconsin - Stout Menomonie Hospitality Services Management