Culinary Arts Schools in Ohio
Major culinary destinations like New York, Miami and San Francisco may get all the glory, but many of America's most iconic cuisine resides in its heart: the great Midwest. Case in point: Ohio, with its diversity of cultural food influences and foodie-centric cities like Cleveland. The Buckeye State has also dished up a heaping serving of award-winning chefs and restaurateurs, including Iron Chef Michael Symon and several more James Beard award-winners and nominees. Ohio culinary schools teach future professionals how to follow in their footsteps, preparing and reinventing classic Midwestern cuisine. Read on to learn more about Ohio's food culture, including top dishes, restaurants and employment trends.
The dish: Iconic Buckeye cuisine
Ohio is a historical cultural melting pot, once drawing pioneers and settlers from Germany, France and the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. Perhaps nowhere is this diversity more apparent than in the state's culinary heritage. Some of Ohio's most iconic foods are deceivingly humble: baked beans and salt pork introduced by New England transplants following the Revolutionary War; the sausages, sauerkraut and hearty potato dishes of German settlers; and the jams, pies and cheeses of the state's sizeable Amish and Swiss communities. Other Ohio's culinary traditions are truly homegrown. Think: Cleveland's famous chili and Cincinnati's trademark pork dishes, which hint to the city's legendary hog roots. Still, many of Ohio's most famous dishes are regional.
Ohio culinary arts job trends
Ohio is quickly becoming a haven for both established and rising star chefs, particularly in major culinary arts centers like Cleveland and Cincinnati (more on these metros below). That means competition for top culinary jobs can be fierce. Candidates who attend culinary schools in Ohio often graduate not only having mastered basic skills, but also a regional culinary savvy that separates them from lesser-trained chefs and transplants. Not all graduates work in kitchens, either: Culinary degree programs strive to prepare students to work as hotel and restaurant managers, butchers (a major industry in Ohio), and even culinary stylists.
The following chart details average wages and long-term employment projections for several relevant jobs.
|Region||Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage||Projected Job Growth Rate|
|Ohio||First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers||39,220||$33,050||N/A|
|Ohio||Food Service Managers||8,080||$53,810||N/A|
|Ohio||Butchers and Meat Cutters||4,410||$34,960||N/A|
|Ohio||Chefs and Head Cooks||4,370||$41,070||N/A|
Keep in mind that earnings and employment potential can improve with experience and training, which can make Ohio culinary schools exceedingly valuable for new and untested professionals. Where you live matters, too. Let's review some of Ohio's two largest culinary arts centers along with their food cultures and culinary trends.
Bite-by-bite: Ohio's major culinary centers
Ohio's food culture shifts from one region to the next, so its through some of its best known culinary metros that offer the best windows into the state's culinary soul. Here is a look at some of major culinary regions that define Ohio cuisine.
Spotlight: The Cleveland Metro
Cleveland is perhaps the strongest contender for culinary arts capital of Ohio. Several notable chefs were born or set their roots here, like Cleveland native and Iron Chef Michael Symon, farm-to-table culinary aficionado Parker Bosley, Michael Ruhlman, and several more James Beard award winners and nominees, including Rocco Whalen, Zack Bruell and Jonathon Sawyer.
In 2014, the Cleveland Plain Dealer asked several Cleveland-area chefs which foods they consider to be truly Cleveland-esque. The three dishes that truly stood out:
- Beef cheek pierogies. Served with a side of crème fraiche, this is a top seller at Symon's flagship restaurant Lola.
- The Polish boy. This Eastern European-inspired sausage is topped with fries and hot sauce.
- Pork chops. Chef Doug Katz, founder of Food Fire & Drink, sources his pork locally and serves it with Amish-made grits and an arugula salad with strawberry-mustard vinaigrette.
One culinary arts trend that did not originate in Cleveland, but has influenced its cuisine significantly in recent years, is the farm-to-table movement. According to The Plain Dealer, there were about 53 community supported agriculture programs operating in Northeast Ohio in 2014, and many local chefs have nurtured relationships with area growers. Scratch-made foods like in-house smoked salmon have become prevalent, and many restaurants proudly display sources and craft producers on their menus. The farm-fresh and local movement has even changed the way many Cleveland chefs cook, and, in turn, the way some culinary schools in Ohio teach. More on this later.
Top Cleveland-area restaurants
Culinary school graduates who want to work their way into the budding food mecca that is Cleveland will find no shortage of top-rated restaurants (and their respective chefs). The following restaurants are just a few of those that made The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Top 100 area restaurants of 2014.
- Lola Bistro. The Plain Dealer called Chef Symon's flagship restaurant an "artsy" eatery dishing up fresh fish, poultry and a diversity of "voluptuous veggies." It earned 28 points in Zagat's survey that year.
- Cowell & Hubbard. This is the flagship restaurant of rising chef Zack Bruell, who The Play Dealer describes as Cleveland's "most painterly chef" when it comes to big flavor. C&H dishes up precision cooked meats (including several uncommon cuts) in a decidedly "swanky" setting.
- Fahrenheit. Fahrenheit in Tremont regularly adorns the top of best restaurant rankings lists, an honor The Plain Dealer says it thoroughly deserves. Founded by James Beard nominated chef Rocco Whalen, Fahrenheit features what the dealer describes as "eclectic" cuisine notable for their wide range of flavors.
- Sokolowski's University Inn. Sokolowski's holds the distinction of being Cleveland's oldest family owned and operated restaurant. Specializing in Polish and Eastern European Cuisine, Sokolowski's is so iconic that it won the James Beard Foundation's America's Classic award in 2014.
Cleveland culinary job trends
Cleveland's food industry is continuously evolving. The recent food-to-table push is an excellent example of how these shifts redefine what Cleveland-area culinary pros do, but how they learn.
"Basic skills and techniques are very much in evidence, unlike even five years ago," Chef Bosley, a farm boy-turned chef and CSA chef-consultant, told The Plain Dealer. "You have to know how to sauté or reduce. You have to know how to make really good stock. And I see more people doing this."
Spotlight: Cincinnati-area cuisine
Cincinnati has its share of high-end and elegant restaurants, but its traditional cuisine is hearty and unpretentious. Many of its staples are pork-based, a nod to the legendary hot industry that, according to Food Timeline, earned it the name Porkopolis. While Cincinnati has not historically had the same foodie haven status as Cleveland, WCPO reports that in 2014, as part of its "Cincy in New York Week," the James Beard House dedicated an entire evening to Cincinnati cooking. several famous Cincinnati-area chefs were showcased, including: Jose Salazar, Jean-Robert de Cavel, David Falk, Stephen Williams, David Cook, Jean Philippe Solnom and Julie Francis.
Traditional Cincinnati cuisine
Cincinnati's local cuisine is influenced heavily by both its industrial and cultural history. Pork is ever present, as are the schnitzels and Bavarian dishes that epitomize its German heritage. Among its best known and loved dishes:
- Chili. According to Cincinnati local Cliff Lower, a columnist for In Mama's Kitchen, Cincinnati has become known as the "Chili Capital of America," thanks, in part, to the fact that it has more chili restaurants per capita than any other city in the nation (and the world, for that matter). These restaurants include the likes of Skyline, Gold Star, Camp Washington and Dixie Chili and Deli, and locals often squabble about which is best.
- Cheese coney. In 2013, Food Republic called this steamed hot dog -- traditionally topped with onions, cheddar, mustard, and local tangy-but-sweet chili -- the "pride of Cincinnati."
- Goetta. Goetta is a German-inspired local breakfast delicacy featuring steel-cut oats and thin-sliced ground pork that has been griddle-fried until crispy. According to Food Republic, it is a carnivore delight.
Cincinnati's culinary establishments range from casual and homey to swanky and refined. The following are just a few of its best known restaurants.
- Salazar. Salazar Restaurant and Bar was founded by notable chef Jose Salazar in Cincinnati's historic Over the Rhine neighborhood. It describes its farm-inspired menu as "creative and refined, yet playful and approachable." Cleveland Magazine named Salazar one of the best restaurants in the city in 2014.
- Boca. Boca is the flagship restaurant of local chef David Falk and features dishes that are at once comforting and complex. Cleveland Magazine calls Boca a "powerful and refined… aria that shatters conventional expectations."
- Skyline Chili. Skyline Chili is only one of a plethora of popular chili joints in Cincinnati, but is certainly one of its most famous. Skyline was founded in 1949 by Greek immigrant Nicholas Lambrinides whose iconic chili recipe remains a closely-guarded secret.
Cincinnati culinary job trends
As with Cleveland, Cincinnati's job market is wholly unique. Earnings and career outlook can vary tremendously from one job title to the next, and can be influenced by several variables, like training, experience and job performance.
More Ohio metros
Cleveland and Cincinnati are only two of Ohio's largest culinary centers. Students attending culinary schools in Ohio may want to research other major cities, too. Columbus, for instance, is an excellent example of an up-and-coming market that is quickly becoming a magnet for well regarded culinary experts like James Beard Award nominees Richard Blondin and Doug Katz.
|Region||Career||Total Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Akron, OH||Food Service Managers||350||$54,850|
|Akron, OH||Chefs and Head Cooks||220||$43,860|
|Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN||Chefs and Head Cooks||630||$47,010|
|Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN||Food Service Managers||1,520||$56,330|
|Cleveland-Elyria, OH||Chefs and Head Cooks||1,300||$37,820|
|Cleveland-Elyria, OH||Food Service Managers||1,370||$55,580|
|Columbus, OH||Food Service Managers||1,880||$54,950|
|Columbus, OH||Chefs and Head Cooks||1,100||$43,000|
|Dayton, OH||Food Service Managers||690||$61,960|
|Dayton, OH||Chefs and Head Cooks||220||$39,080|
|Toledo, OH||Chefs and Head Cooks||260||$36,170|
|Toledo, OH||Food Service Managers||520||$47,740|
|Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA||Chefs and Head Cooks||140||$44,220|
|Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA||Food Service Managers||390||$63,330|
Launch your Ohio culinary career
This guide offers a high-level introduction to Ohio's culinary scene, and those of two of its largest food-centric metros, but it is no substitute for immersing yourself in Buckeye cuisine. It is also helpful to visit, or at least research, several culinary colleges in Ohio before settling on one specific program.
- "Traditional state foods & recipes: Ohio," Food Timeline, http://www.foodtimeline.org/statefoods.html#ohio
- "Is there a 'Cleveland cuisine?' Northeast Ohio chefs weigh in on the uniqueness of our food scene," Cleveland Plain Dealer, July, 2014, David Farkas, http://www.cleveland.com/dining/index.ssf/2014/07/is_there_a_cleveland_cuisine_n.html
- "The Top 10 Chefs You Need To Know In Columbus, OH," The Braiser, April 3, 2014, Tina Nguyen, http://www.thebraiser.com/10-chefs-in-columbus/#1
- "The Lola Moment," Cleveland Magazine, November, 2006, Michael Ruhlman, http://www.clevelandmagazine.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=586CA122EB394032BD4AA3B686FF03D9&nm=Editorial&type=Publishing&mod=Publications%3A%3AArticle&mid=1578600D80804596A222593669321019&tier=4&id=B01BC7AD8EEE45EA9DFF674FFEBA0457
- About Rocco Whalen, Chef Rocco Whalen, http://www.chefroccowhalen.com/bio/
- "Best New Chefs: Jonathon Sawyer," Food & Wine, 2010, http://www.foodandwine.com/best_new_chefs/jonathon-sawyer
- About Sawyer, Jonathon Sawyer, http://jonathonsawyer.com/aboutchef/
- "The Life and Times of Cincinnati Chili," In Mama's Kitchen, Cliff Lowe, http://www.inmamaskitchen.com/FOOD_IS_ART/cliff/chilarttwo.html
- "Cleveland's Top 100 restaurants: The complete A-List," Cleveland Plain Dealer, Joe Crea, April 25, 2014, http://www.cleveland.com/top-restaurants/index.ssf/2014/04/clevelands_top_100_restaurants_the_2014_a-list.html
- "Turning the Tables," Zack Bruell, http://zackbruell.com/bruell-presskit.pdf
- "20 Great Things to Eat and Drink in Ohio," Food Republic, Marcy, 30, 2013, Joshua M. Bernstein, http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/03/30/20-great-things-eat-and-drink-ohio
- "The Top 10 Chefs You Need To Know In Columbus, OH," The Braiser, April 3, 2014, Tina Nguyen, http://www.thebraiser.com/10-chefs-in-columbus/#1
- "Two Northeast Ohio Chefs are Semi-Finalists for James Beard award," Cleveland+, February 26, 2014, http://www.clevelandplus.com/en/News-and-Press/CLE_plus-News/2014/February/Northeast-Ohio-Chefs-Semifinalists-for-James-Beard-Award.aspx
- America's Classic, JBF Awards, James Beard Foundation, 2014, http://www.jamesbeard.org/awards/americas-classics?year%5Bvalue%5D%5Byear%5D=2014
- May 2013 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates: Ohio, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_oh.htm
- May 2013 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014,
- Projections Central, Ohio, projectionscentral.com
- Ohio Job Outlook, Ohio Labor Market, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Bureau of Labor Market Information, 2010, http://ohiolmi.com/proj/OhioJobOutlook.htm
- "The Story of Skyline Chili," Skyline Chili, http://www.skylinechili.com/our-story.php
- Best Restaurants, Cincinnati Magazine, 2014, http://www.cincinnatimagazine.com/bestrestaurants/
- "Cincinnati chefs bring 'local' cooking to New York's James Beard House," WCPO, may 11, 2014, Matt Peiken, http://www.wcpo.com/lifestyle/food/cincinnati-chefs-bring-local-cooking-to-new-yorks-james-beard-house