Culinary Schools in Lakeland, FL: Culinary Arts & Cooking Colleges

Culinary Schools in Lakeland

Located just outside of Tampa, Lakeland is a city built for tourism -- and that includes numerous dining establishments that cater to visitors and locals alike. In addition to the many options for restaurant work that might be had by graduates of Lakeland culinary schools, supermarket chain Publix offers a wide variety of opportunities as the one of the largest employers in the area.

According to the National Restaurant Association, Florida is expected to lead the pack in employment growth for restaurant workers from 2015 through 2025, with a whopping 22.4% increase in hiring. Nearby Georgia comes close, with 21.1% employment growth expected. Whether a graduate chooses work in a quick service restaurant, bakery, upscale dining establishment, cafeteria or private home, those who earn their degree from Lakeland cooking schools should find no shortage of possibilities in the Sunshine State and beyond.

Famous restaurants in Lakeland

Given the vast number of tourists who travel through Lakeland every year, it makes sense that some of the most visible eating establishments in town are chain restaurants. However, those who are determined to find the best tastes of Lakeland can still do so at the family-owned, classic places that have boasted the best of food for years.

  • Reececliff Family Diner: A Lakeland institution since 1934, this comfortable place features homemade pies, down-home country foods and a friendly atmosphere. Though the pies are the star, the breakfast is not to be missed.
  • Tapatio's: This easy-going Mexican restaurant is known for being fast and inexpensive, which is why it draws a huge lunch crowd. But it's also delicious, voted the best ethnic food by Polk County residents, and consistently pulls in great reviews.
  • Texas Cattle Company: Since 1973, this steakhouse has made good use of Florida citrus woods to produce some of the best steaks anywhere. In addition, the seafood, chicken and chops are cooked over the same open flame pit, making for a truly well-rounded culinary experience.

There are some chain restaurants that have made waves in Lakeland, too. Red Lobster was founded there in 1968, as an experiment to determine whether a seafood restaurant could really survive that far from the coast. Judging by the hundreds of locations across the nation today, the Lakeland experiment was a resounding success.

Chain restaurants offer a variety of opportunities for graduates of Lakeland culinary schools, but that's not all. From small bakeries to steakhouses to family-owned pizza joints, there are many opportunities for spreading the culinary wings. In addition, consider the many prospects for those who have made management and hospitality their focus during culinary school.

Culinary career outlook in Lakeland

Florida is a huge tourist destination, and of course, all of those tourists must eat. That's one of the reasons why Florida's restaurant industry is showing consistent, impressive growth. In 2015, the National Restaurant Association reported 39,325 eating and drinking establishments in the state, employing over 943,600 people. About 973 of those establishments were in Lakeland, and over 17,426 people were employed in the restaurant industry there.

How much do all of those restaurant employees make? These are the salaries reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as of May 2014, for restaurant workers in the Lakeland-Winter Haven area.

  • Chefs and head cooks: $46,170
  • Restaurant cooks: $20,880
  • Bartenders: $23,390
  • Waiters or waitresses: $19,720
  • First-line supervisors: $30,020

Those who graduate from Lakeland cooking schools might immediately turn to work in one of the city's dining establishments, or choose to branch out into other areas of Florida. Here is what graduates can expect from employment growth of popular culinary positions across the state, as reported by Projections Central:

  • Bartenders: 22%
  • Chefs and head cooks: 14.4%
  • Restaurant cooks: 19.6%
  • Waiters or waitresses: 19%
  • First-line supervisors: 19.2%

From working in quick service and chain restaurants to finding work in bakeries, management positions, grocery stores and much more, graduates of Lakeland culinary schools can look forward to an exciting career in the Sunshine State.


  • Florida Restaurant Industry at a Glance, National Restaurant Association,
  • Lakeland-Winter Haven, FL, Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2014,
  • Long Term Occupational Projections, Florida, Projections Central,
  • Reececliff Family Diner,
  • Restaurant Employment Growth 2015 to 2025 (Projected), National Restaurant Association,
  • Tapatio's,
  • Texas Cattle Company,
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This list also contains online schools that accept students from Lakeland

Other Lakeland, Florida Culinary Schools

School Name Programs Offered
Traviss Career Center Commercial Foods and Culinary Arts