Wisconsin Culinary Schools
Tucked into the Midwest, Wisconsin is an excellent state for aspiring chefs. Chefs here have access to some of the best dairy in the country, fresh beef all year long, and delicious seasonal produce. There are over 5.7 million people living in Wisconsin, mostly concentrated near large cities like Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay. However, Wisconsin also has many rural communities throughout the state. Overall, the cost of living in Wisconsin is on par with national averages.
Wisconsin has lots of excellent restaurants, including Red Eye Brewing Company, Matsu Ya, and Clancey's Stone Lion. Most restaurants in this state focus on traditional American cuisine, but there are many ethnic restaurants as well.
In Wisconsin, there are 10 schools that offer culinary education. Most of them are located in or very close to large cities. Wisconsin has one of the most affordable average tuition rates in the country; you can expect to pay an average tuition cost of $3,855. Scholarship opportunities are numerous in this state, leading to an average scholarship award of $1,150. The average class size in Wisconsin is 14 students, which gives you the opportunity to work one-on-one with your instructors.
There are three primary ways you learn culinary skills. Hands-on learning is the main way you learn culinary skills. Instead of spending most of your time in a traditional classroom, you can plan on spending most of your time in a student kitchen. Here, you can learn how to clean different proteins, how to prep vegetables, and how to cook food using different methods. You are expected to take the education you get here and practice outside of class hours.
You also spend some time learning from lectures and books. This type of education is typically reserved for cooking terminology, the history of different types of cuisine, and business/management skills.
Finally, you use much of what you've learned in a practical setting by completing an internship or practicum. This may be one of the most important parts of your program, since you begin building connections that may lead to a new career after graduation.
Once you have gone through all the work of earning a culinary degree or certificate, it is time to begin your career. There are many ways you can put your culinary expertise to use. Possibly the main work environment for chefs is the restaurant, since the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 46% of chefs work in restaurants.
You could also consider working as a caterer or private chef. There are self-employment opportunities, as well; you could open a restaurant, become an independent private chef, or start a catering company.
Some of the primary culinary employers in Wisconsin are Patrice & Associates, Cheddar's Casual Cafe, and Uno Restaurant.
When you work in Wisconsin, you don't have to worry about becoming licensed or certified as a chef. There are currently no laws that require the licensure of chefs or cooks. However, there are optional certification options that can help you get started in your career. The American Culinary Federation has one of the most trusted certification programs in the country.
You can increase your earning potential by getting more experience in the field and gaining seniority. Executive chefs are typically the highest paid chefs in a kitchen, followed by sous chefs and line chefs.
The job outlook for chefs and cooks in Wisconsin is even better than the national average. Chefs can anticipate a 7% increase in job openings between 2010 and 2020, while cooks can expect a 25% increase in job openings in the same time frame (O*Net, 2010).