Culinary Arts

Culinary Arts - AAS

If you love cooking, have a passion for food and have always dreamed of being a chef, then Bellingham Technical College’s Culinary Arts associate degree program is for you. BTC’s programs and certificates in Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts are ideal for students with cooking skills and an interest in the fast-growing food service industry.

You’ll receive training from an award-winning faculty in state-of-the-art kitchens and get the skills and experience you’ll need to get top jobs in the fast-paced culinary field. Hone your culinary arts skills and gain training in every aspect of food service – from chef to restaurant manager to hostess – at BTC’s Café Culinaire, where students run the International Buffet in winter quarter and a full-service a la carte restaurant in spring.

To expand on your cooking skills, you can also take classes for your pastry arts certificate and get training for the best pastry chef jobs.

The Culinary Arts Program is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the American Culinary Federation Foundation.

Awards for 2017-18: Congratulations to BTC's Culinary Arts students who competed in the American Culinary Federation Washington State Chefs Culinary Salon. BTC had the highest scores of all student competitors and took home gold, silver and bronze medals for their work.

Employment Information

76% BTC graduate placement rate
72% job placement rate in 2017-18 (for students graduating in 2016-17)
69% job placement rate in 2016-17 (for students graduating in 2015-16)
84% job placement rate in 2015-16 (for students graduating in 2014-15)

$42,286 starting annual wage
$52,416 average annual wage
$63,419 potential annual wage

  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    BTC graduate employment rates:
    The graduate employment rate reflects placement rates of students who graduated from BTC in 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17. The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges Data Linking for Outcomes Assessment database pulls from Unemployment Insurance (UI) data across Washington and Oregon. UI data do not reflect BTC graduates who (a) are employed in states beyond those listed above or outside of the United States, (b) are self-employed, (c) are active duty members of the armed forces, (d) continued on to another educational institution, and/or (e) did not provide a social security number while enrolled at BTC.

    Washington State Employment Security Department 2018 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates ( reflect 2014-2017 employment

    Starting annual wage = 25th percentile
    Average annual wage = 50th percentile
    Potential annual wage = 75th percentile

Graduation Information

21% graduation rate in 2018-19 (for students starting in 2015-16)
31% graduation rate in 2017-18 (for students starting in 2014-15)
37% graduation rate in 2016-17 (for students starting in 2013-14)

BTC Culinary Arts graduation rates: The graduation rate reflects the percentage of students starting in the Culinary Arts program who receive a Culinary Arts degree within three years.

Certification Information

25% ACF certification rate for students graduating in 2018-19
10% ACF certification rate for students graduating in 2017-18

BTC ACF certification rates: The ACF certification rate reflects the percentage of students graduating with a Culinary Arts degree who receive ACF certification within one year of program completion.

  • Employment and Wage Data Sources

    1Employment data come from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) and reflect WA/OR employment for students enrolled at BTC between 2016-17 and 2018-19. Students are included in the employment rate if they left with a credential. Rates are not shown for programs with fewer than 10 students meeting the above criteria.

    2Wage data come from Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) 2020 Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates (Washington State wage) and reflect 2015-2018 employment. Wage data represent occupations that BTC faculty have identified as the most relevant career paths for program graduates. Note that these wages reflect employees with varying educational levels/credentials. For cases in which multiple occupations have been identified by faculty, a weighted percentile is calculated using each occupation’s percentile wage and employment size estimate. Wages are not shown for programs for which occupations do not meet the ESD’s minimum thresholds for publishing. If the program has wage data from the Washington SBCTC that involves shift work, these ESD wages reflect the same number of hours used in the annual wage calculation. Starting wage = 25th percentile, median wage = 50th percentile, wage potential = 75th percentile.

Estimated Program Costs

Entry Information

When Can I Start?

The program typically starts in Fall Quarter on a space available basis

A cumulative GPA of 2.0 or greater and a grade of C- will be the minimum passing grade for all Culinary program courses.

What are the Minimum Entry Requirements?

Admissions application and assessment testing in Reading, Math and Writing is required. Your score on the test and/or your previous transcripts will determine where you begin your course sequence. Contact Admissions at 360.752.8345 or at for assistance with academic planning.

What are My Next Steps?


Total Program Credits: 103

  • Quarter 1

  • CUL 110Sanitation & Safety2 CR
  • CUL 112Introduction to Hospitality2 CR
  • CUL 114Culinary Skill Development I6 CR
  • CUL 142Nutrition2 CR
  • CUL 118Commercial Kitchen Equipment2 CR
  • Quarter 2

  • CUL 122Culinary Skill Development II6 CR
  • CUL 126Pastry Skill Development I6 CR
  • AMATH 100Applied Occupational Math5 CR
  • OR Higher
  • AENGL 100Applied English5 CR
  • Quarter 3

  • CUL 144American Regional a' la carte Cookery7 CR
  • CUL 146Pastry Skill Development II7 CR
  • OR Higher
  • Quarter 4

  • CUL 150Field-Based Experience6 CR
  • OR
  • CUL 152Culinary Competition Fundamentals6 CR
  • Quarter 5

  • CUL 116Meat Identification and Fabrication4 CR
  • CUL 218Garde Manger6 CR
  • CUL 222Supervisor Development3 CR
  • CMST& 210Interpersonal Communications5 CR
  • OR
  • PSYC& 100General Psychology5 CR
  • OR
  • SOC& 101Introduction to Sociology5 CR
  • Quarter 6

  • CUL 220Restaurant Management5 CR
  • CUL 224Food and Beverage Service3 CR
  • CUL 226International Cuisine6 CR
  • CUL 228Banquet and Catering Management3 CR
  • Quarter 7

  • CUL 230Northwest a' la carte Cookery8 CR
  • CUL 232Food and Beverage Service Lab2 CR
  • CUL 236Wine Appreciation2 CR

Program Outcomes

After successfully completing this program, students will be able to:

  • Conform and comply with health standards based on US Food and Drug Administration, Washington State, and local health department sanitation and hygiene codes and laws.
  • Apply fundamentals and advanced skills in sustainable design and purchasing, butchery, Garde Manger, classical sauce, soups and stocks, food and beverage service, farinaceous foods, classical cookery techniques in international cuisine, American regional cuisines, and define product specifications.
  • Plan, prepare, and cook foods ala carte and buffet style consistently in a visually appealing manner while maintaining taste, nutritive value, flavor, and texture in classical and contemporary cooking methods.
  • Correctly prepare a variety of classical breads, artisan breads, classical pastry items, and desserts with the ability to correctly evaluate finished products for proper texture, color, palatability, shape, and doneness.
  • Plan, develop and analyze the dining room layout, facility design, menu design, cost analysis, marketing plan, and projected profit and loss statements.
  • Describe the fundamental nutrients in the human diet, identify a variety of contemporary dietary needs and demonstrate the ability to create and cook modified menus to meet those needs.

Employment Outlook

After taking BTC’s culinary arts courses, you can graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree in culinary arts and let your career take you wherever you want to go: restaurants, bakeries, pastry shops, hotels, schools and universities, hospitals, and catering companies. Graduates of BTC’s Culinary Arts programs are trained for jobs as: sous chefs; line, pantry and prep cooks; bakers; deli workers; food managers; and caterers. Employment opportunities for those with culinary arts degrees are expected to be plentiful as new restaurants and bars open, creating new positions; outgoing employees also will need to be replaced.

About 76% of BTC Culinary Arts program students are employed within nine months of graduation. The average annual wage in culinary field is $52,416, with an earning potential of about $63,419 per year.*

Faculty & Support

Brian has cooked professionally for over 35 years holding positions as a corporate restaurant chef, garde manger chef, banquet chef, catering chef, private chef, and butcher. He attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating number one in his class, being awarded the Francis Roth Most Outstanding Student award. He has worked at many fine restaurants and hotels including the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Amelia Island (Florida), Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill, David Burke’s Park Avenue Café (Chicago), and locally at Thirteen Coins and The Herb Farm Restaurant. He taught culinary arts for eight years in Asheville, North Carolina before joining Bellingham Technical College in 2003.

  • Degrees and Credentials

    WA Professional Technical Certification - 2003

    Certified Executive Chef, American Culinary Assoc. - 2003

    A.O.S., Culinary Institute of America - 2003

    Secusafe Certification, National Restaurant Assoc. - 2003

    Certified Culinary Educator, American Culinary Assoc. - 2003