Culinary Schools in San Jose, CA: Culinary Arts and Pastry Colleges

Culinary Schools in San Jose

Long before it became a part of Silicon Valley, San Jose was known as a part of the Valley of Heart's Delight. It was an area teeming with orchards and fields that produced apricots, cherries, prunes and peaches. Those fields and orchards were replaced with the expansion of high tech businesses and industry in the region, but delicious food lives on in San Jose. Today, the city hosts an eclectic food scene that includes Vietnamese, Middle Eastern and Mexican restaurants alongside fine dining and contemporary establishments.

Famous San Jose restaurants and chefs

Although sometimes overshadowed by San Francisco, its Bay Area neighbor to the north, San Jose has plenty of good food as well as numerous career opportunities for those getting ready to graduate from culinary schools in San Jose.

Here are just a few of the notable names that have made it big in the San Jose food scene.

  • Michael Mina: While he got his start in San Francisco, accomplished chef Michael Mina has gone on to share his culinary talents with other communities by opening 20 destination restaurants. Among those is Arcadia in San Jose.
  • Joey Chestnut: Not everything culinary related needs to be high-brow. San Jose resident Joey Chestnut is a competitive eater who rose to fame by proving he could everything from chili to shrimp cocktail to hot dogs faster than just about anyone else on the planet.
  • Mike Mashayekh: As a longtime restaurateur in San Jose, Mike Masheyekh opened the fine dining establishment Le Papillon in 1977. The restaurant has evolved over the years to meet the changing tastes of area residents and remains a top pick for local foodies.

Overall, the San Jose metro area employs more than 90,000 individuals as part of its leisure and hospitality industry. That's according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which also found that jobs in the industry rose 4 percent from November 2013 to November 2014.

Zagat rates more than 40 restaurants in San Jose, ranging from fast food to chains to one-of-a-kind establishments. Of those, Le Papillon and Arcadia are both among the top ten restaurants. While those two picks can make for an impressive dining experience, they aren't the only places in town worth trying. San Jose foodies won't want to miss these other restaurants offering foods for every taste and budget.

  • Falafel Drive-In: Touted as the place for authentic Mediterranean food, Falafel Drive-In has been voted number one in San Jose by visitors to travel website
  • SmokeEaters: For those who like their food hot, SmokeEaters has you covered. Known for bar and grill type food, its Hellfire Challenge, which asks participants to down 12 Hellfire Wingers, was featured on the Travel Channel's Man v. Food.
  • Back A Yard: Over at Yelp, users have given Back A Yard the best overall ratings of any San Jose restaurant. It's a Caribbean American Grill that is also a 2015 Michelin recommended restaurant.

Of course, these are just a few of the restaurants catering to San Jose foodies. Dining enthusiasts can also find spots serving up Ethiopian food, Mexican fare and everything else in between.

Culinary schools & career outlook in San Jose

Students getting ready to graduate from cooking schools in San Jose can build upon the successes of current chefs and restaurants with their own career in the culinary arts. The diverse food scene opens up a number of other career possibilities. Graduates from culinary schools in San Jose may go on to be bakers, food service managers or even private cooks.

What's more, many of these occupations are expected to see double digit percentage growth in the coming years. The following chart represents average employment and wages in San Jose for a sampling of these culinary occupations, as well as the overall job growth expected statewide in the coming years.

OccupationTotal Employment in San Jose (2013)Average Salary in San Jose (2013)% Job Growth in California (2012-22)
Chefs and Head Cooks710$45,29013.7%
Food Service Managers1,680$55,51011.8%
Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria2,030$31,25016.2%

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

It's an exciting time for the culinary scene in San Jose. Old restaurant mainstays are being joined by newer establishments that are experimenting with bold flavors and ethnic cuisine. In addition, with business travelers and tourists alike making their way to Silicon Valley, San Jose will need workers to fill not only restaurants, but other hospitality hot spots as well.

Have a look at the list of San Jose culinary schools compiled below and make your entrance into the world of innovative cooking in the heart of Silicon Valley.


  • Projections Central, California,
  • Best Restaurants in San Jose, CA, TripAdvisor,
  • Economy at a Glance, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
  • May 2013 Occupational Employment Statistics, San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor,
  • Farrington Historical Foundation, Our Legacy,
  • 2015 Top American Restaurants in San Jose Area, Gayot,
  • Restaurants San Jose CA, Yelp,
  • San Jose Restaurants, Zagat,
  • Chef Michael Mina,
  • Joey Chestnut, EatFeats,
  • San Jose, Man v. Food,
  • Le Papillon, Visit San Jose,
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This list also contains online schools that accept students from San Jose