In South Carolina, culinary schools provide students with the practical skills they’ll need to succeed in one of the most in-demand careers in the country.
The best culinary schools in the state provide students with the hands-on training they’ll need to enter the workforce and the business skills they’ll need to reach the upper echelons of the industry.
While the state has a few culinary programs, most are branch campuses of larger technical schools.
But don’t be fooled by the schools’ status as branch campuses. They provide students with the same quality education and training as their standalone counterparts.
Here are the top culinary schools in South Carolina.
Greenville Technical College
Established in 1963, Greenville Technical College is one of the state's most respected technical schools. And while its culinary arts program doesn't receive as much attention as its other offerings, GTC has received national recognition for its achievements in this field.
The associate degree in culinary arts provides students with the practical skills they'll need to enter the workforce, while the associate in business administration combines career training with business fundamentals.
Through the program, students gain an in-depth understanding of the hospitality industry, including its history, management, and marketing. They also learn how to prepare a variety of delicious dishes, as well as how to operate within the constraints of a tight schedule.
Every student in the culinary program gets the opportunity to work in one of the school's two kitchens: the Teaching/Demonstration Kitchen and the Community Food Production Center.
The Teaching/Demonstration Kitchen gives students the chance to put their skills to the test, while the Community Food Production Center gives them the opportunity to serve the community.
Through the center, students run a small food business that serves the campus and surrounding community. The operation features a deli and a small store, allowing students to gain experience in marketing, sales, customer service, and accounting.
Trident Technical College
Trident Technical College is a member of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and part of the Tennessee Board of Regents.
This school has an impressive list of accolades, including being named a Top College by The New York Times and a Top College that Lowers Social Mobility by the New York Times.
Trident Technical College's culinary program is a branch of its business and technical careers department. The program offers two different paths: hospitality and restaurant management or commercial baking.
Through the hospitality and restaurant management track, students gain experience working in the industry through an internship with a local business. Courses focus on the theory behind the cuisine and the economic, social, and political factors that shape the business. Students learn the fundamentals of classic cuisine and the basics of southern cooking.
Through the commercial baking track, students learn the science behind the production of baked goods and the business of it. Courses cover the history of baking, the science of bread making, and the fundamentals of pastry making.
Horry-Georgetown Technical College
At Horry-Georgetown Technical College, students learn how to prepare a range of cuisine from baking and pastry to barbecue and more.
The program begins with an associate degree in applied science in culinary arts. It takes about two years to complete the full curriculum, which includes classroom instruction and a externship with a local restaurant.
Students learn about food and its properties, as well as the different kitchen equipment and knives. They also study baking and pastry, learning about breads, cakes, and pastries.
Those who are interested in barbecue and culinarian arts can pursue an associate degree in applied science in culinarian arts or a certificate in barbecue styling, respectively.
Culinary students also have the opportunity to participate in the school's Bake Off Team, which has earned multiple state and national awards.
Bob Jones University
A Christian university with over 5,000 students, Bob Jones University is a respected school that offers a variety of majors, including those that prepare students for a career in the culinary arts.
Along with associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees, BJU's Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management program provides the kind of hands-on experience that every great chef needs.
Students in the program spend two years learning the basics of the culinary arts, from breadmaking and menu planning to food production and food service management.
In their final year, students gain hands-on experience in the school's on-campus dining facility, Jones Commons Dining Hall. There, they work with professional chefs to prepare meals for the university community and gain valuable experience working within a real-world restaurant setting.
BJU's program owes its quality in part to its advisory board, which consists of industry leaders from across the country. Members of the advisory board serve as mentors and judges for student competitions, as well as resources for students hoping to make it into the industry after graduation.
The board's members include Dan Kern, chef de cuisine at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, CO; David Thomas, executive chef at The Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA; and Mark McClure, executive chef at The Presidio in San Francisco, CA.
Spartanburg Community College
This school has a long history in the culinary arts, having offered a program since the 1970s. A decade later, in the 1980s, the school established its International Training & Education Center to expand its offerings.
Today, the school's program consists of two parts: the International Training & Education Center and the Spartanburg Area Career & Technical Center.
At the Center, students can earn two certificates: culinary arts and hospitality. The culinary arts certificate, which takes nine months to complete, trains students in the fundamentals of cooking.
Through courses that blend classroom learning with hands-on experience, students learn the basics of French and Italian cuisines, as well as international cuisine and baking and pastry. In addition, students gain experience working in professional kitchens at the school's restaurant, The Depot.
At the Center, students in the hospitality certificate also study in the classroom and gain hands-on experience, but in a different setting. Instead of a professional kitchen, students use the school's Country Inn & Golf Resort at the Center. There, they learn to prepare food for the resort's restaurant, The Glass Basket.
At the Center's other program, the Spartanburg Area Career & Technical Center, students can earn certificates in the culinary arts. However, they can also earn certificates in a variety of other fields, ranging from precision machining to dental assisting.
At the other schools on this list, you'll notice that several offer study-abroad opportunities. The Spartanburg Community College does, too. In fact, it's one of the only schools on this list to offer such opportunities to students in the culinary arts program.
That's right: with the help of the school's International Training & Education Center, students can study the cuisines of the world right here in South Carolina.
Technical College of the Lowcountry
The Technical College of the Lowcountry is a public two-year college located in Savannah, Georgia. As one of the state's 16 technical colleges, TCL provides career training to more than 10,000 students annually.
Students at TCL can choose from more than 100 programs, including culinary arts. In the school's culinary arts program, students spend 18 months learning the ins and outs of the industry, culminating in a internship at a local restaurant.
Along the way, students gain proficiency in all aspects of the culinary arts, including baking and pastry arts, foodservice, and commercial cooking. Students also have opportunities to take courses in business and marketing, giving them a well-rounded education that prepares them for a career as a chef or owner of their own restaurant.
TCL is home to the James Beard Foundation's American Culture and Cuisine Institute, a summer program that teaches high school students about cooking and American history.
The institute was founded by the James Beard Foundation in partnership with the University of Southern Maine and Florida State University.
Denmark Technical College
As the second-oldest public technical college in the state, Denmark Tech has plenty of experience turning students into skilled workers.
The school has been around since 1964, and it has some impressive alumni, including professional basketball player Justin Hawkins and NFL player Marlon Favorite.
Of course, Denmark Tech is best known for its culinary program, which is one of the most sought-after in the state.
The school offers two tracks for students interested in becoming chefs: a two-year associate degree in culinary arts and a one-year certificate in professional culinary arts.
The culinary program teaches students the basics of food preparation and some of the most important skills for a career in cooking. Students learn how to use knives, the stove, and other equipment, and they gain practice creating dishes from scratch.
In addition, students can participate in a student-run restaurant, where they get to put their skills to work in a professional setting. The restaurant, called the Denmark Inn, is open to the public and features dishes created by students under the guidance of faculty.
Trident Technical College Online
Trident Technical College Online isn't just one of the best culinary schools in South Carolina - it's one of the best online culinary schools in the entire nation.
This technical college has an excellent reputation for delivering quality education, as evidenced by its presence on multiple top ten lists of online colleges and its recent acceptance into the nationwide consortium the Georgia Technical College Network.
Trident's culinary program begins with a core curriculum consisting of seven courses in areas ranging from baking and pastry arts to foodservice operations and management. These courses give students a solid foundation in the basics of food and hospitality before they dive into more specialized topics.
These more specialized topics range from baking and pastry arts to menu development and foodservice management, giving students an opportunity to focus on specific areas of interest.
Along with providing an excellent educational experience, Trident Technical College Online is also a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges network, which means that it offers tuition discounts to service members and their family members.