Culinary Arts

Culinary Arts

Culinary Training for Foodservice Professionals

If a career in foodservice is your passion, it’s time for you to step into our professional kitchens!

Our program is designed to educate and develop future leaders for the culinary profession with a curriculum that blends a combination of practical cooking experiences, foodservice knowledge, and business application.

In addition to gaining culinary skills, you will learn how to create menu items that are nutritious, marketable, and profitable; understand the balance between culinary creativity and business operation realities; comprehend the responsibilities of safe food production and service; and become acquainted with the various career pathways within the profession.

Apply Today Program Details

A program conference is required prior to acceptance to the program. You'll learn more about the program, specific admissions requirements and have the opportunity to have questions answered by program faculty and staff.

Graduates of the Culinary Arts program will be able to:

  • Employ proficiency pertaining to the care and use of an industry-standard range of professional knives.
  • Operate and safely control commercial food service equipment significant to the hospitality industry.
  • Utilize classical cooking methods to design, produce, plate, and critically analyze the quality of dishes for diverse foodservice outlets and meal periods that include short order and banquet production.
  • Demonstrate fabrication and preparation proficiency related to a variety of seafood, meat, poultry, and game proteins.
  • Distinguish between, and successfully utilize, a wide array of international food preparation techniques and ingredients.
  • Compare and assess both nutritional and food cost value related to menu design and the purchase of products for the foodservice industry.
  • Employ appropriate sanitation and safety measures in order to minimize the risks associated with foodborne illness.
  • Calculate and interpret fundamental food service cost bases including food and beverage percentages and costs associated with inventory management.

Kirkwood offers more than $3 million in scholarships for students each year, and there are many specifically for students enrolled in Culinary Arts and other hospitality programs.

Hands-On Learning

In addition to hands-on learning in Kirkwood's state-of-the-art culinary labs, students are immersed in the business operations of Kirkwood's Four Diamond Hotel, including food and beverage operations at The Class Act restaurant.

Culinary students experience a local, regional, or national internship at reputable food service establishments. Students also have the opportunity to travel abroad and immerse themselves in international food and culture through Kirkwood's various study abroad partnerships.

Prior to graduation, Kirkwood culinary students host a Culinary Showcase, where they design, prepare, and execute a multi-course culinary presentation and dining experience for more than 100 members of the community.

Visit The Class Act

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Professional Facilities: Culinary Lab

Our culinary labs are equipped with industrial kitchenware and cooking equipment, providing a professional kitchen environment.


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Professional Facilities: Bakery Lab

While spending time in our Bakery Lab, you'll gain skills and experience in ingredient identification, equipment operation and maintenance, recipe writing and standardization, and fundamental baking methods.


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Professional Facilities: Bakery Lab

You will learn the theories and techniques required to make a variety of professional caliber products in our commercially-equipped Bakery Lab.


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Professional Facilities: Executive Technology Amphitheater

When you're a Kirkwood culinary student, you will acquire and then hone your culinary skills in a purpose-built facility designed to maximize and enhance student learning.


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Professional Instructors

Our instructors are industry-experienced culinary professionals that have a passion for teaching, developing, coaching, and mentoring.


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Professional Instructors

Instructors share their culinary industry experiences that span national and international restaurants, full-service hotels, banquet and catering operations, casinos, and private business ownership.


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What to expect as a student: Term 1

Hands-on culinary lab experiences during the first term take students on a learning journey through courses Kitchen Essentials, Culinary Techniques, and Food Fundamentals. At the conclusion of these culinary lab courses, students will be able to prepare assigned food items utilizing standardized recipes, demonstrate accurate measurement techniques, perform workplace math calculations while scaling and adjusting recipes and ingredients, and demonstrate knowledge of fundamental cookery methods.


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What to expect as a student: Term 2

Practical lab courses experienced during the second semester cover industry-essential content across the following courses: International Cuisine, Stocks and Sauces, Fabrication, Garde Manager, and Bakery Basics.


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Term 2: Cross Training

Beverage Fundamentals introduces students to the essentials of food and beverage pairing, including identification of beverage characteristics and flavor profiling.


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What to expect as a student: Term 3

Courses you will take during the third term include: Advanced Garde Manager, Applied Culinary Skills, and Menu Planning. Advanced Garde Manager features production of charcuterie and advanced work with sugar centerpieces.


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Advanced courses in Term 3

The culinary learning experience becomes elevated with practical content that expands upon skills acquired during earlier lab courses. 


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Term 3: Cross Training

Students also experience front-of-house cross training in restaurant and banquet service within The Hotel at Kirkwood and in The Class Act Restaurant during the highly practical Service Techniques course.


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What to expect as a student: Term 4

It is time to add finishing touches to what has become a comprehensive repertoire of culinary skills for each student. 


Culinary Auditorium

Term 4 Culinary Showcase

Prior to graduation, Kirkwood students host a Culinary Showcase, where they design, prepare, and execute a multi-course culinary presentation and dining experience for more than 100 members of the community in the Executive Technology Amphitheater.

Explore More

The career possibilities for a culinary arts graduate are as varied as the ingredients in the kitchen. Here are some of the career paths you can take:

  • Executive chef
  • Banquet chef
  • Restaurant chef
  • Chef de Cuisine
  • Sous chef
  • Private chef
  • Business ownership
  • Catering manager
  • Line cook
  • Baker

Students in this program earn the National Restaurant Association's Food Protection Manager's ServSafe Certificate. ServSafe is the national, industry-based food safety certification for food service managers.

Because this program is fully accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission, graduates are provided with an opportunity for nationally-recognized certification upon completion of the program.

Students receive hands-on training and gain practical experience in management, food preparation, and food and beverage service. Coursework includes Kitchen Essentials, Culinary Techniques, Food Fundamentals, International Cuisine, Bakery Basics, Applied Culinary Skills, and Menu Planning.

Plan of Study

In addition to hands-on learning in the kitchen labs, a separate industry internship allows students to apply their program learning within various other segments of the culinary arts industry. Kirkwood students have completed internships locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.


Big Grove

Local Pour Street Food
Walker Homestead

Toppling Goliath
Taco Gato
Elmcrest Country Club

Cedar Rapids Country Club
Cobble Hill

Feedwell Kitchen and Bakery

Grand Living at Bridgewater

University of Iowa
St. Burch Tavern
Yellowstone Club
Wilson’s Ciderhouse & Venue

Pullman Diner

Educate and develop future leaders for the culinary profession.

Program Costs

Culinary Arts A.A.S. 

School Year: 2024–25

Program Entry Semester: Fall

Fall Spring Fall Spring Total
Credit Hours per Semester 18 17.5 13.5 18 67
In-State Tuition $3,906 $3,797.50 $2,929.50 $3,906 $14,539
Technology Fee per Semester $50 $50 $50 $50 $200
Clinical Expenses (mileage, lodging, screenings, etc.) $30 $67.50 $39 $20.25 $156.75
Conferences/Seminars $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Course Resources (textbooks, software, etc.) $635 $565 $309 $394 $1,903
Course/Section Fees $390 $922.50 $336 $200.25 $1,848.75
Laptop (required devices) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Testing Fees $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Third Party Credentials $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Tool Sets $342 $0 $0 $0 $342
Uniforms $281.35 $0 $221.50 $0 $502.85
Other $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total Estimated Cost $5,604.35 $5,335 $3,846 $4,550.25 $19,335.60


Costs provided are estimated and based on the following current tuition rates: $217 (In-State), $290 (Out-of-State), $400 (International).

Fees and costs are subject to change. To view all costs associated with attending college visit our Tuition and Costs page.

Program Requirements

In order to begin classes in the Culinary Arts program, you must complete the following, in addition to Kirkwood’s steps to become a student:

Accreditation & Awards

American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC)This program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation as an “Exemplary” program, which symbolizes the highest educational standards recognized by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission (ACFEFAC), and was Awarded one of the 50 Best Programs by Best Choice Schools to offer quality programs which can help students be successful in the field of culinary arts.
Julia Crouse

“I think some people have a negative connotation about community college, but I feel like I got a lot more out of my experience at Kirkwood than I would have at a four-year institution.”

Julia Crouse,
Culinary Arts Graduate

Read Julia's story on the Kirkwood Online Newsroom.


Hospitality Arts
The Hotel at Kirkwood Center