Home to high-rated restaurants like The Mission, Noca, and Crudo, Arizona has an amazing food culture that makes it great for culinary students. There are 6.6 million people in Arizona, many of whom have a taste for the state’s southwestern cuisine. As a culinary student here, you’ll need to learn about how to successfully blend American and Mexican food to create uniquely Arizona dishes.
Many of the restaurant jobs in Arizona are located in its largest cities, including Phoenix, Tucson, and Mesa. The cost of living in Arizona is about 5% below the national average, which may influence how you price menu items as a chef.
In Arizona, there are 16 cooking and culinary schools that can help you meet your culinary goals. Tuition in this state is generally very affordable; the average tuition cost is $5,897. Many students qualify for scholarships, leading to an average scholarship award of $2,666.
Since there are so many culinary schools in Arizona, there are many different concentrations and paths you can pursue. Culinary arts and chef training is, by far, the most common specialty in the state. However, you can also focus on food preparation or baking and pastry arts.
Culinary Schools in Arizona
If you pursue a degree in culinary arts or food preparation, you can expect a broad education in various different food types. This includes learning how to prepare and cook different types of meat, learning the best way to cook different vegetables, mastering difficult knife skills, and figuring out food pairings. You may touch on baking and desserts, but they will likely not be the primary part of your education.
On the other hand, if you pursue a baking and pastry arts degree, you can expect to learn all about the field of baking. Baking is a science, so you need to know how different ingredients interact, what ingredients counteract each other, and the effect head has on different mixtures. You’ll learn how to prepare simple food perfectly, and you’ll get a feel for more advanced desserts.
After completing your culinary training, it’s time to get into the kitchen and start working. By far, restaurants are the main employers of chefs in Arizona. You may start out as a line chef and work your way through the ranks to become an executive chef.
However, you may also decide to work for a catering company or become a private chef. The hours may be more erratic in these positions, since you must tend to your client’s needs whenever and however they arise.
Some of the primary culinary employers in Arizona include Sullivan’s Steakhouse, BBRG, and Ovations Food Services.
In general, there are no license or certification requirements for cooks in Arizona. However, there is an exception—in Maricopa County, you need a food handler’s license. This process involves taking a one-hour course and then passing a test that demonstrates your knowledge of safe food handling, preparation, and serving.
Salaries in Arizona depend on your job title, your level of expertise, and seniority within the restaurant. Executive chefs and sous chefs tend to earn more than line chefs, although line chefs with lots of experience can earn very competitive salaries. O*Net reports that the average salary for a head chef is $49,100 per year, while the average salary for a cook is $22,900 per year.
The demand for chefs and cooks in Arizona is growing far faster than the national average. Job growth for cooks is expected to increase by 29% between 2010 and 2020, more than twice the national rate of 13% (O*Net, 2010). Demand for chefs is expected to grow by 13% in the same time frame (O*Net, 2010).