Best Culinary Schools In Denver | Cost, Requirement & How To Apply

There are many culinary schools in Denver ready to meet the demand for highly skilled culinary professionals. We’ve compiled a list of the best culinary schools in Denver.

Culinary schools in Denver that made our list offer professional development opportunities, hands-on programs, a wide variety of coursework, and professional training. Many programs are also accredited by the American Culinary Federation, an indicator of academic rigor.

A culinary education at one of Colorado’s top culinary schools can open the door to many career opportunities for an aspiring student. Whether you want to earn a degree or a certificate, acquiring skills at Colorado culinary schools can bring you one step closer to your dream.

Are There Culinary Schools in Denver? 

Colorado is home to about five culinary schools, most of which are located in or very close to major cities in the state. The average acceptance rate is 53%, so you should put your best foot forward when applying.

The average in-state tuition of $9,894 is partially offset by an average scholarship of $2,567, giving you an overall affordable education.

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How Much Do Culinary Schools Cost in Denver? 

Currently, Denver culinary schools typically cost over $20,000 to attend. For most students, this is a high price that will force many students to use financial aid.

When looking at culinary school tuition, consider whether the dollar amount covers the entire degree program or just a portion of it.

In many cases, this is not the same as the annual tuition you would find at a four-year college. Instead, culinary school tuition usually includes the cost of the entire training program.

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What Are The Requirements For Culinary Schools In Denver? 

In most culinary schools, a high school diploma is a prerequisite for enrollment in programs. If for any reason you can’t get one, a GED or equivalent can get you access. Read each school’s requirements carefully before applying.

For intensive training, students can apply for a 4-year bachelor’s degree or a 2-year associate’s degree. If you need basic skills to qualify for a job, certified programs are best. It is advisable to choose schools that offer either internships or employment services.

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What Are The Best Culinary Schools In Denver? 

Cook Street School of Culinary Arts

Unlike the other programs on our list, Cook Street School of Culinary Arts does not actually offer culinary degrees. However, they are a great option for those looking to improve their skill set or learn a new technique or two.

Those willing to undergo an intensive training program can learn the regional cuisine and wines of France and Italy, as well as experience the glorious taste of pastry, savory cooking, and technique and theory.

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Classes take place in the kitchen and classes maintain a 10:1 student/instructor ratio. In addition, chefs and home cooks can take part in one-night classes or a short series of classes in everything from braided bread to knife skills.


Emily Griffith Technical College

Emily Griffith Technical College is a top culinary school conveniently located in Denver. The program includes hands-on training at Emily’s Café on campus. Students can prepare and serve meals while mastering their culinary skills.

This integrative program includes tours of local restaurants and catering establishments, as well as the opportunity to hear from guest speakers with industry experience.

Coursework in the program covers areas of study such as baking, cooking techniques, front-of-house planning, cost control, preparation and cooking. Internship experience is also part of the curriculum.


Johnson and Wales University

Johnson & Wales University is a leader in culinary education, offering a wide variety of associate and bachelor’s degree programs. These include the degree of Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts.

Regardless of degree choice, students learn culinary science, which allows them to be creative in the kitchen. The faculty integrates professionalism, presentation techniques, and production methods into each culinary course.

The kitchen laboratories are state-of-the-art and have the latest culinary equipment. Internship opportunities are offered in both AS and BA programs so students can gain work experience and network with other industry professionals.


Pueblo Community College

Pueblo Community College offers a variety of culinary arts programs that have received program accreditation from the American Culinary Federation.

PCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts Production and Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts Management programs have Exemplary status, the highest academic standards of ACFEFNAC, or the American Culinary Federation’s National Apprenticeship Committee.

The Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts Management program emphasizes management skills including purchasing, planning, supervision and cost control. The curriculum includes culinary practices, nutrition and sanitation.


Red Rocks Community College

Red Rocks Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts. In addition to three Culinary Arts internships, this program includes coursework in subject areas such as broths and sauces, baking, vegetable preparation, breakfast preparation, and custom crafting of gourmet desserts.

Additional nutrition coursework is also required for hospitality and supervisory professionals in the hospitality industry.

In conjunction with an associate degree, students can participate in the Colorado Rockies Chef Apprenticeship Program.

This program is offered to students who have at least six months of work or study experience in the food service industry and combine work experience with classroom learning.

The 3-year program includes full-time work under the guidance of a sponsoring company and a chef. Students can also earn a Culinary Arts Certificate.

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University of Denver

Students accepted to the University of Denver can take business courses at the prestigious Fritz Knobel School of Hotel Management. The bachelor’s degree covers everything from sales and marketing to food and beverage management in a variety of establishments.

The curriculum includes an introductory lecture to the hospitality industry. This will help students decide where they would like to work after graduation.

The program also requires students to complete supervised work sessions to ensure they have the necessary skills to compete in the industry.


How Much Do Chefs In Denver Earn?

In Denver, Colorado, a thriving food scene and growing population means the careers of chefs and cooks are booming.

Between 2016 and 2026, the growth in these careers is 24.4 percent for chefs and executive chefs, 21.6 percent for bakers, and 32.7 percent for line cooks, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Average salaries in these occupations in the state are also good. A cook in Denver, Colorado earns an average of $17.76 an hour and $36,950 a year, while a chef or head chef earns $24.52 an hour and $50,990 a year.

The top 10 percent of people in these two fields earn impressive annual salaries: $49,040 for chefs and $72,790 for head chefs and executive chefs.

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How Do I Become A Chef In Denver?

No license or certification is required to work as a chef in Colorado. There are also no degree or training requirements. How you get into the industry is up to you, and there are two main options.

The first is to start at the bottom, working in the kitchen, washing dishes or on the line, and work your way up by learning and training on the job. This requires finding a restaurant and chef willing to train you with your career goals in mind.

Another option is to visit a culinary school in Colorado. There are a wide variety of culinary programs to choose from, including two-year degree programs and shorter courses offering certificates and diplomas. You can start with a basic culinary education or specialize in pastry or management.

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What Are The Best Paying Culinary Arts Jobs in Denver

Typical food industry salaries in Colorado vary by job title, city, and experience. Large metro areas such as Denver tend to have a high turnover rate for entry-level jobs.

 Entry-level jobs in the food and beverage industry do not have the formal education or work experience required to enter the industry. According to the BLS, these jobs earned an average of $12.49 an hour, or an average of $25,980 a year in 2021.

Graduates can search for a wide variety of jobs at thousands of restaurants, resorts, schools and hotels in Colorado. Many entry-level employees or first-line managers do not need a degree.

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Those who love food can explore further investing in their career and passion to try to earn a position as a chef, executive chef or even a registered dietitian.

Best Culinary Schools In Denver FAQs

How Long Is Culinary Schools In Denver? 

Colleges with culinary programs in and around Denver range from less than 2 years to 2- or 4-year schools. You can start with a 9-month culinary arts and restaurant certificate.  You can also work towards a 2- or 3-year specialist culinary arts degree. A 4-year Bachelor of Culinary Arts and Food Service Management program is also available, where you will have many areas of specialization to choose from.

What Is The Requirement To Become A Chef In Denver?

There are no requirements to be a chef or cook in the state of Colorado, but it can be a smart move to gain national recognition for your knowledge and skills. Certification from the American Culinary Federation (ACF), for example, proves to employers that you can do the job well. You can choose from 16 certification areas, from basics to chef. Certification requires passing an exam that includes written and practical parts.

Why Study Culinary Arts In Denver?

With Colorado’s food, beverage and agriculture industries booming, the culinary industry has shown continued growth. The state offers a variety of cuisines and culinary options, making Colorado’s culinary industry a culinary haven. Colorado’s unique cuisine consists of elk and buffalo meat. In addition to traditional coffee shops, restaurants, and pubs, Colorado’s food industry is also typical of Colorado’s food industry.


As you prepare to begin your education, you need to decide what level of degree you would like to pursue. Most schools in Colorado allow you to choose between an associate degree or a certificate.

An associate’s degree is a more thorough option, as it usually requires two years of full-time study. A certificate, on the other hand, takes about a year. The Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts offers a unique opportunity not found in other schools.

Home cooks can take home cooking classes to learn about simple meals for their families. Cooking courses cover several different aspects. Safety is an important factor in the culinary world, as a safety violation can shut down an entire restaurant.

References – Top 10 Best Culinary Schools in Colorado 2021


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