Culinary Schools in Honolulu, HI: Culinary Arts & Cooking Colleges

Culinary Schools in Honolulu

At least 3.5 million people visited Oahu, home to Honolulu, in 2014, many of whom dined out at its restaurants or sampled tasteful cuisine in its varied eating establishments. Whether they sought out traditional island food, like Lomilomi salmon, Kalua pig, poi (a thick paste made from the fermented root of the taro plant), or looked for other culturally-inspired dishes, including those of Japanese or French influence, they discovered a number of tastes and flavors.

No matter what kind of food people desire in The Aloha State, restaurant sales should remain strong. After all, it's no small fact that many people dine out when they travel. In fact, the National Restaurant Association reports that more than $4 billion in sales transactions should occur in Hawaii restaurants in 2015. In all, about 88,700 people were employed in culinary positions and restaurant jobs in 2015, accounting for about 14 percent of all employment in Hawaii. By 2025, more than 95,000 people could be employed in restaurant jobs in the state, so enrolling in one of the culinary schools in Honolulu could be one way to train for a future job.

Famous Honolulu restaurants

The taro plant can be found throughout Hawaii as well as the Polynesian islands, of which Hawaii is a part. It is foundational in many Hawaiian foods ranging from laulau to poi. Laulau, which comes from the leaves of the taro plant, usually results in a pork-wrapped dish. Poke, another dish, is usually served cube-size and can be make of raw tuna or other types of fish. Not all of the restaurants in Honolulu specialize in island fare, however, but many of them do incorporate local influences or make use of regional foods. Some of the dining places to try out in the city include:

  • Alan Wong's Honolulu: Opening in Honolulu in 1995, this flagship restaurant has since expanded to include an additional location in Honolulu as well as a forthcoming site in Shanghai, China. Despite its location on the third floor of an office building, Alan Wong's thrives under the direction of the chef of the same name, who continuously creates new dishes that are reflective of Hawaiian regional cuisine.
  • 12th Avenue Grill: This restaurant serves American food that also reflects Hawaiian influences. Voted the 2015 Best Restaurant of the Year by Honolulu Magazine in the 31st Hale 'Aina awards, the grill offers everything from a Grilled Kim Chee Marinated Hawaii Ranchers Skirt Steak to Free Range Jidori chicken breast. Prioritizing the use of locally-source seasonal ingredients, the restaurant also features Sunday Supper, which means food served family-style.
  • Town Kaumuki: With a premise of "local first, organic when possible and 'Aloha always,'" this restaurant was featured in a Jan. 2015 Bon Appétite magazine feature called "Surf, Sun Shave Ice, and #Spam: Where to Eat in Oahu, Hawaii." Chef/owner Ed Kenney launched Town in 2005 and sits on the board of directors for several area organizations.

Honolulu culinary salary and career info

Culinary schools in Honolulu offer students training in fields as diverse as the pastry arts, culinary arts and even food service management. There are also opportunities for new chefs to prove their skills in regional events like the Young Chef Competition, sponsored through Kapiolani Community College in Honolulu. Requirements for this competition have included planning a menu in 30 minutes and creating a three-course meal for four people in less than four hours.

Students fresh out of Honolulu cooking schools may be able to find work at an area restaurant, under very skilled chefs or even by starting a business of their own. Of course, there are many famous chefs, from Sam Choy to Alan Wong and George (Mavro) Mavrothalassitis, who have made a name for themselves by launching restaurants in Honolulu, and have since become well-known beyond the state. Overall, there are 3,300 dining and drinking establishments in Hawaii, meaning that there could be many different opportunities to build a culinary career in Hawaii. Some of the culinary occupations available in Honolulu include:


Total Employment in Honolulu (2014)

Average Salary in Honolulu (2014)




Chefs and Head Cooks



Food Service Managers



Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014

To gain a broader perspective about people employed in the culinary profession in the state, take a look at this chart:


Total Employment in Hawaii (2014)

Average Salary in Hawaii (2014)

% Job Growth in Hawaii (2012-2022)





Chefs and Head Cooks




Food Service Managers




Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014, and Projections Central

Students wanting to become part of the bustling restaurant scene in Honolulu have many opportunities for training. From on-the-job opportunities to programs at community colleges and culinary schools, you can begin to develop your skills and learn more about working in dining. To discover more the opportunities offered through Honolulu culinary schools, look at the list of degree programs below.


  • Alan Wong's Honolulu,
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Hawaii, Occupational Employment Statistics,
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Honolulu, Hawaii, Occupational Employment Statistics,
  • National Restaurant Association, Hawaii,
  • Projections Central, Ohio,
  • Town Kaumuki.
  • Traditional Hawaiian Food: Eat These 7 Massively Tasty Dishes, Migrationology,
  • 31st Annual Honolulu Magazine Hale 'Aina Awards
  • Visitor Statistics, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.
  • Young Chef Competition, Kapiolani Community College,
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This list also contains online schools that accept students from Honolulu