Culinary Schools in Milwaukee, WI: Culinary Arts & Cooking Colleges

Culinary Schools in Milwaukee

Milwaukee, a.k.a. Brew City, is no stranger to food-related nicknames, but its reputation as a bonafide culinary powerhouse is new. A recent urban renaissance has reignited the city's downtown, and with it, the local food culture. Ethnic, fine dining and other trendy restaurants are on the rise. Food trucks and street vendors are thriving. Milwaukee is a staging ground for rising and seasoned chefs of all stripes, attracting attention from publications like The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune and Epicurious. Students of culinary schools in Milwaukee are in a great place to start a career; the city's restaurant scene is bigger and more diverse than ever, and so is its culinary job market.

Milwaukee has become a foodie destination of national proportions, but new trends have not necessarily usurped tradition. The culinary history and traditions that make the city so unique are alive and well. Hungry locals can still get their share of brats, fried cheese curds and frozen custard. Favorite restaurants still host Friday fish fries, while pretzel rolls, Polish pierogi and barbecue ribs are as popular as ever. The market has only expanded, in both scope and prestige, and is full of opportunities for students attending culinary schools in Milwaukee.

Famous Milwaukee restaurants

Milwaukee restaurant-goers have no shortage of options, including French, Italian, Indian and progressive American eateries. On Milwaukee reports that food trucks serving gourmet soups, crepes and tacos rule the streets; farm-to-table ventures with seasonal menus line them. Many of the kitchens feature chefs of national renown, including a few James Beard award winners. These new eateries stand alongside old favorites, some of which have been serving Milwaukeeans for decades, creating an incredibly diverse myriad of options. The following are among city's the best known and loved restaurants.

  • Mader's - Founded as "The Comfort" by German immigrant Charles Mader, Mader's is Milwaukee's oldest restaurant. The German-American menu has drawn many celebrities since then, including U.S. presidents.
  • Real Chili - Real Chili serves unique, but time-tested comfort foods like chili with beans and spaghetti. Founded in 1931, Travel Channel calls Real Chili a true "Milwaukee institution."
  • Speed Queen BBQ - Founded in 1956, Speed Queen's barbecue quickly outshined that of the "Black King," which had until then dominated Milwaukee's barbecue scene. It remains one of the most beloved eateries in the city, and has even begun to sell its signature sauces in area grocery stores.
  • Gilles Frozen Custard - Milwaukee's love of frozen custard is well known, and so are many of its custard shops. Gilles has been dishing it out since 1939.
  • Sanford - It is only natural that Sanford, a recurring finalist for the James Beard Foundation's Outstanding Restaurant award, was founded by Sand D'Amato, Milwaukee's first James Beard award-winning chef. The kitchen is headed by another JBF Best Chef alum, Justin Aprahamian. Sanford is perhaps best known for its surprise and themed tasting menus.
  • Braise - Braise is headed by Chef-Owner David Swanson, a two-time semifinalist for the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef: Midwest title. Visit Milwaukee reports it is also Milwaukee's first community-supported restaurant, featuring locally-sourced ingredients from more than 40 Wisconsin farms.

Milwaukee culinary schools & career outlook

Food can be big business. According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurants accounted for 9 percent of Wisconsin's total employment in 2015, and the industry is projected to add more than 16,000 more jobs in the following decade. Milwaukee's blossoming restaurant scene is doing its part to add to this market, and it has the numbers to prove it. The following table features projections, employment and salary data for key culinary occupations in Milwaukee, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Wisconsin's WORKnet.

OccupationTotal Employed (2014)Average Salary (2013)% Job Growth in Milwaukee (2010-2020)
Chefs and Head Cooks750$36,2607.9%
Restaurant Cooks5,690$22,42024.5%
Food Service Managers1,040$59,6505.1%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2013, and Wisconsin's WORKnet

Milwaukee's diverse culinary market is ripe with opportunities for budding food professionals. Candidates who graduate from Milwaukee culinary schools may have an edge over those with less training and experience, especially in top ranked kitchens. Programs can vary, but may include the following areas:

Prospective students who are not sure which program is right for them can contact Milwaukee culinary schools to learn more about their options. Browse the programs below to get started.


  • "National press puts Milwaukee dining in the spotlight," On Milwaukee, March 21, 2014, Lori Fredrich,
  • "Taste of Milwaukee," Travel Channel,
  • "Milwaukee food truck guide, 2014," OnMilwaukee, July 22, 2014,
  • Dining & Nightlife, Visit Milwaukee,
  • "Milwaukee's oldest restaurant: how does Mader's do it?" OnMilwaukee, October 16, 2007, Bobby Tanzilo,
  • "Wisconsin Restaurant Industry at a Glance," National Restaurant Organization, 2015,
  • Occupation Projections, Wisconsin's WORKnet, Department of Workforce Development, State of Wisconsin,
  • "May 2013 State Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates," Occupational Outlook Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014,
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