Culinary Schools in Texas


Culinary schools in Texas provide students with a solid foundation in culinary techniques in addition to affording them the opportunity to explore regional and international cuisines. Students may study both classic and contemporary culinary methods; learn to prepare global dishes; and expand their knowledge of various topics related to the culinary arts, including nutrition, management, and menu development. Texas culinary schools offer certificate, associate’s degree, and bachelor’s degree programs with focuses in culinary arts, pastry and baking arts or restaurant management, among other areas of study.

Food Scene

Texas is a large state with many culinary influences, including Mexican, Native American, German, British, and Italian. Tex-Mex is a famous style of cooking originating in Texas that blends American and traditional Mexican cooking techniques. Popular Tex-Mex dishes include tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, burritos, and chimichangas. Considering that the state’s most valuable agricultural product is cattle, Texas is also known for Sothern favorites, such as BBQ, which typically features beef rather than pork, and chicken fried steak. The Lone Star State has increasingly been recognized as a world-class dining destination in recent years and is home to trendy Austin, which has a popular food truck scene, as well as Dallas and Houston, which boast many upscale restaurants.


Texas cities where you might seek employment include Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, and Fort Worth. You could pursue a career as a sous chef, executive chef, food and beverage manager, restaurateur or research chef. Culinary professionals often work for restaurants, casinos, hotels, cruise ships, and food service facilities.

Salary and Employment Overview

The Texas Workforce Commission, Labor Market & Career Information Department reports that the median annual salary for Texas chefs and head cooks was $42,566 in 2012, while restaurant cooks earned considerably less with an annual salary of $19, 537, first-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers earned $20,018, and restaurant managers earned $43,517. In 2013, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that Texas had the third highest employment of chefs and head cooks out of all 50 states. Nationally, chef and head cook positions are expected to increase only 5% from 2012 to 2022, but chef positions in Texas should increase at a higher rate of 13% from 2010 to 2020, with a projected increase of 140 new openings each year. Positions for the lower-paid positions of first-line supervisors of food preparation and serving workers and restaurant cooks will both receive a notable employment increase of 27% and 34% respectively.

2012 Texas Deployment and Annual Wages
Occupation Employment Mean Median Mean Entry-Level Mean Experienced
Bakers 10,500 $21,161 $19,344 $16,858 $23,312
Cooks, Fast Food 38,110 $17,560 $17,769 $16,748 $17,966
Cooks, Short Order 12,870 $19,289 $18,759 $16,742 $20,563
Cooks, Institution and Cafeteria 30,040 $20,952 $19,487 $16,792 $23,033
Cooks, Restaurant 78,940 $20,682 $19,537 $16,756 $22,645
Cooks, All Other 1,340 $22,406 $21,809 $16,983 $25,118
Chefs and Head Cooks 4,980 $45,363 $42,566 $25,590 $55,250
First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers 72,050 $30,406 $27,644 $20,018 $35,600
Food Service Managers 19,030 $48,143 $43,517 $30,989 $56,720
Lodging Managers 2,100 $53,053 $45,078 $31,072 $64,043

Source: The Texas Workforce Commission

Professional Organizations

After you have graduated from your culinary program, you may elect to pursue membership at a professional organization. Some of the culinary and hospitality associations with a local presence in Texas include the American Culinary Federation (ACF), Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI), the Texas Restaurant Association (TRA), the American Institute of Wine and Food (AIWF), and the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association (THLA).

The American Culinary Federation (ACF)
Welcoming chefs and cooks as members, the ACF offers 14 professional certification credentials, such as Personal Certified Executive Chef, Certified Pastry Culinarian, Certified Master Chef, and Certified Culinary Educator, among others. Below are the six ACF Chapters located in Texas:

  • ACF Capitol of Texas Chefs (Austin)
  • ACF Chefs Association of Greater El Paso
  • ACF Texas Panhandle Chefs de Cuisine (Lubbock)
  • ACF Professional Chefs Association of Houston
  • ACF Chapter of South Texas (San Antonio)
  • Texas Chefs Association

Along with being an ACF chapter, the Texas Chefs Association (TCA) is also a stand-alone organization, which offers separate membership for just TCA. TCA has 14 chapters located across the state:

  • Austin
  • Brazos Valley
  • Concho Valley
  • Corpus Christi
  • Dallas
  • East Texas
  • Fort Worth
  • Golden Triangle
  • Heart of Texas
  • Houston
  • Mid East Texas
  • Permian Basin
  • Rio Grande Valley
  • San Antonio

Les Dames d’Escoffier International
Les Dames d’Escoffier International is an exclusive organization, which promotes female leaders in the culinary world. Texas LDEI chapters are located in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio.

The Texas Restaurant Association

The Texas Restaurant Association offers training and certification in a variety of restaurant areas from safe food handling to food service management. TRA members also enjoy dual membership with the National Restaurant Association. The TRA has a large number of chapters spanning the state:

  • Abilene Chapter
  • Austin Chapter
  • Brazos Valley Chapter
  • Centex Chapter
  • Coastal Bend Chapter
  • Dallas Chapter
  • East Texas Chapter
  • El Paso Chapter
  • Galveston Chapter
  • Houston Chapter
  • Lubbock Chapter
  • Mid Coast Chapter
  • Montgomery County Chapter
  • North Texas Chapter
  • Panhandle Chapter
  • Permian Basin Chapter
  • Rio Grande Valley Chapter
  • Sabine Area Chapter
  • San Angelo Chapter
  • San Antonio Chapter
  • Tarrant County Chapter
  • Waco Chapter

The American Institute of Wine and Food
With a Dallas/Ft. Worth chapter, the ACIWF is an organization founded by Julia Childs that celebrates food and wine. Both professionals in the industry and amateur food and wine aficionados can join. Membership includes the chance to network, as well as discounted subscriptions to a variety of food and wine related magazines.

Texas Hotel & Lodging Association
Comprised of hotel and lodging professionals, the Texas Hotel and Lodging Association is dedicated to improving the lodging industry. They provide members with a variety of benefits, including placement on their hotel directory website, liability insurance, education and training, and updates on the latest industry trends.

Exploring Schools

From BBQ to Tex-Mex to upscale cuisine, the food scene in Texas has a lot to offer aspiring culinary professionals. Read more about the TX culinary schools featured below to start building your future in the culinary arts today.

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