Let us help you decide which class suits you the best

Start your dream culinary career with a 100% hands-on education that integrates you into the industry with a paid apprenticeship

"We teach you how to cook, not how to follow a recipe"

About Our Programs

Professional Culinary Diploma Program

Year-long professional culinary diploma program for anyone who wants to learn modern cooking techniques and pursue a career in culinary industry.

12

Months

7

Apprenticeship Modules

1000

Hours Apprenticeship

Next start: 01/04/2023

8 spots available out of 16

Accelerated Culinary Certificate Program

Learn the essential skill needed to start a career in the food industry. This program is part of our mission to make contemporary culinary education available for everyone.

9

Months

3

Apprenticeship Modules

500

Hours Apprenticeship

Next start: 01/04/2023

2 spots available out of 16

Start your application by talking with our admissions team

Learn modern culinary techniques used in today’s restaurants

You’re trained to become a seasoned culinary professional as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is done through a combination of focused curriculum, repetitious practice to develop muscle memory, and restaurant mentorship opportunities.
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Modern Techniques and Scratch Cooking

We teach you how to cook from scratch using fresh, local, and high-quality ingredients.

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Hands-on learning

No long & boring lectures! You make all the components of the dish you’re learning, from start to finish.

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Current curriculum based on in-demand skills

You get immersive culinary training that gives you a competitive advantage in the industry right now.

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Every student matters

You’re taught in a family-like setting by a team that truly cares about your success.

Paid Apprenticeship

CulinaryLab students will get the opportunity to work in an immersive, hands-on, 500-to 1,000- hour professional apprenticeship rotation, getting paid while they learn (earning at least $15,500). The two-pronged approach combines hands-on learning and immersive industry experience.

Below are some of the businesses we partner with for our apprenticeship program. We work with established chefs mentors who believe in our program and share our vision for education:

See what our students think about us

About a year and a half ago, I decided to make a major career change to the culinary industry. I enrolled in CulinaryLab's Professional Culinary School for several reasons: reasonable tuition, small c...  Read more

Alexis Rinaldi

Amazing place to learn how to cook. Learning is immersive and very hands-on. Their professional track not only teaches you culinary techniques but also provides great insight into the foodservice indu...  Read more

Veronica Reyes

I recently graduated from the Culinary Lab and man was it worth it! Let me start by just saying what an amazing support system you get when you enroll in the Culinary Lab. Stacy and Chef Ryan, actuall...  Read more

Samantha L.

My daughter attended CulinaryLab Cooking School and loved it. She is now very knowledgeable and doing all kinds of things. I highly recommend this program; the staff is extremely competent and the p...  Read more

Christy Licato

The highly trained chefs and instructors at CulinaryLab, are passionate about cooking and instructing future chefs on the skills required to cook professionally. We all know the difference between bei...  Read more

Charles W Rose

This school is hands down amazing! I'm from their first graduating class and I can say hands down I'm so glad I came here and not some other cooking school. Price wise it was cheaper than any other sc...  Read more

Yair R.

The chefs are great & very passionate about teaching. I was in the previous school they thought at, and if I had known this one was opening I would have gone here instead. The price is much more a...  Read more

Karma M.

I recently came out to the school to watch some professional chef instructor demos and must say I was blown away from the moment I walked in! The space itself is gorgeous... super modern and aestheti...  Read more

Victoria Varon

CulinaryLab is run by a group of the more talented and passiknate chefs I've ever had the pleasure of learning from. If youre looking for a school that will get you on the right track into starting yo...  Read more

Amanda C.

Unbelievable great concept new students will surly get a hands on quality education

Bill Michael

I recently came out to the school to watch some professional chef instructor demos and must say I was blown away from the moment I walked in! The space itself is gorgeous... super modern and aestheti...  Read more

Victoria V.

I participated in a culinary workshop and it was excellent. I highly recommend it.

Sandi Jimenez

The curriculum is tailored to people wanting to enter the field and pursue their dream to be a chef or pastry chef. it provides real world experience and education that is relevant to the workplace. f...  Read more

Vollie Barton Mathews

I support CulinaryLab Cooking School 100% and believe in their model and mission!!

Sandie Diamond

I got the chance to attend an open house event at CulinaryLab where each of the instructors did a culinary demo. I got to tour the school and speak to some of the team. I have a background in culinary...  Read more

Rob Ladd

Yelp Rating 2

What you learn in the Professional Culinary Diploma Program

This 12-month program is broken down into the following five sections:

Level 1

Skills

Knife Skills & Vegetable Cookery | Salads & Dressings | Soups | Grains & Legumes | Plant-Based Cooking

Level 2

Whole Animal

Poultry | Pig | Lamb + Beef | Finish | Shellfish

Level 3

Modern Techniques

Plate Design | Advanced Plant-Based | Sauces 2.0 | Modernist Techniques | Platin for the Camera

Level 4

Speciality

Pastry 1: Breads | Pastry 2: Fundamentals | Pastry 3: Plated | Small Bites + Buffet Design | Family and Friends Buffet

Level 5

Apprenticeship

1,000 Hours | Top Local Chefs & Bakers | Learing Modules Include: Culinary Carrer Paths, Field Trips, & Menu Development

Level 1

Plant

Kitchen fundamentals | Safety & sanitation | Culinary vocabulary professional etiquette | Foundational skills

  • Wk 1: Vegetables
  • Wk 2: Salads & Soups
  • Wk 3: Grains, Tubers, Legumes

Level 2

Animal

Tough vs tender cuts | Fabrication basics | Cooking techniques curing | Sausage making

  • Wk 1: Two-legged
  • Wk 2: Four-legged
  • Wk 3: Land & Sea

Level 3

Plated

Plate design & styles | Presentation elements | Fish fabrication intermediate techniques

  • Wk 1: Essentials
  • Wk 2: Elements
  • Wk 3: Advanced

Level 4

Modern

Food trends | Leading chefs | Advance plating | Modern techniques plant-based cooking

  • Wk1: Modern Chefs: Plant-Based
  • Wk2: Modern chefs: World’s Best
  • Wk3: Exit Exam

Level 5

Apprenticeship

Professional skill building | Production cooking or baking | Time management | Iindustry operations

  • Mod1: Career Paths
  • Mod2: Interview Skills
  • Mod3: Farm Field Trip

Professional-level culinary instruction that gives you options after graduation

When you graduate from CulinaryLab, you leave with the knowledge and connections needed to excel in a variety of culinary careers.
Some students continue working where they apprenticed, others use their new network to land a different restaurant job. Others start their own businesses. The bottom line is, your CulinaryLab Diploma gives you the freedom to pursue whatever culinary career you desire.

What our industry partners say about our students

"Andrew is doing a great job. He has taken on more responsibility, and at the stage he is in, I think he is doing very well. Whenever I give him constructive feedback, I know that it will be implemented immediately. This is a sign of how seriously he takes his job and I am thrilled to have him on my team."

Chef Craig Strong
Studio at Montage

"Morgan has shown a lot of motivation and a true eagerness to learn. He is a quick learner and I honestly forget that this is his first kitchen job. I hope that he continues to be a valuable asset to our team here for as long as possible."

Chef Devin Meyer
Terrace by Mix Mix

"Emily is great worker, with a high level of work ethic and follow through. We are very pleased to have Emily on our staff, and we look forward to her future growth in our company. "

Chef Marlin Salazar
24 Carrots Catering

"Both Somi and Andy are amazing talents. They have learned their responsibilities in a short period of time, so thank you to your team for doing a great job. They are very pleasant and hardworking associates. They have blended in with all our values and have become Montage ambassadors. I am looking forward to more talents from your school to be selected and start working with Montage."

Chef Prabeen Prathapan
The Loft at Montage

"Cooper has gone a long way since he first started. Every week he has progressed in his work, and I'm really glad to see that he has taken on the challenges that I have given him. He’s still learning in this stage of his career, but I love his determination on accomplishing goals and continuing on being better every day."

Chef Jason Montelibano
Chapter One

"Molly has been a role model employee since day one. She has embraced our culture and followed the department guidelines. She displays commitment to excellence and monitors her own work. Molly is always enthusiastic to help guests and coworkers. She has built relationships based on trust and respect with her supervisors and peers."

Chef Jeff Lehuede
Resort at Pelican Hill
Start your application by talking with our admissions team
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My vision and belief

I started CulinaryLab because I saw significant gaps in the traditional culinary school model, so I identified the opportunity to provide a more modern approach and address these shortcomings. I’ve worked for over 20 years in the industry, attended as a student at a traditional culinary school, and then later taught at another one. Class sizes were large and students worked in groups, preventing them from working hands-on with every technique and getting the one-on-one support
…  more

I started CulinaryLab because I saw significant gaps in the traditional culinary school model, so I identified the opportunity to provide a more modern approach and address these shortcomings. I’ve worked for over 20 years in the industry, attended as a student at a traditional culinary school, and then later taught at another one. Class sizes were large and students worked in groups, preventing them from working hands-on with every technique and getting the one-on-one support they needed. Students were given lengthy textbooks to learn from and long lecture classes to attend. Tuition prices were as high as $100,000 for training that would only lead to students getting entry-level roles.

Bottom line, students were spending a lot of money and not getting the results they came for. I knew there was a better way. So I created CulinaryLab with the idea of making culinary education more contemporary and accessible. We teach students the way we know they learn best, with small class sizes, hands-on immersive learning, video-driven content, and a price tag that aligns with industry wages. We work directly with local chefs and business owners to find great kitchens for our students to work in while they’re still in school. It’s a key part of their training. We get students from newbie to working professional as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s a straightforward model that gets great results.

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Chef Ryan

Founder, CulinaryLab

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Briana Breluke

Director of Education

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Richard Lee

Culinary Chef Instructor

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Tanit Parnprome

Culinary Chef Instructor

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James Caveness

Culinary Chef Instructor

“I was so impressed with the Chef Instructors, the facility, the method of teaching and the over all course itself.“

“Love these people, to them you're not just a student, they treat everyone with love and support and they want nothing but to help you succeed and reach your goals.“

“All of the staff at the school are extremely professional and kind at the same time. It is amazing how much you learn from the staff, they continually focus on making sure the students are the focus.“

“The teachers are phenomenal! Each one not only give you lessons in cooking but also in life. They all genuinely want you to succeed in your career. Even after graduating they still keep in touch and help whenever they can.“

“The chefs are great & very passionate about teaching.“

“The chefs were all articulate, patient experts in their respective crafts and you could tell they were excited about teaching and sharing their knowledge with others. True foodies.“

“CulinaryLab is run by a group of the more talented and passionate chefs I've ever had the pleasure of learning from.“

“Colleen is the best at what she does and makes it fun.“

“Chef Mike helped me with ServSafe. Tyler, Sarah H., and Sarah were awesome as well.“

“It was wonderful experience to be in class under Chef Brianna's instruction. She is so knowledgeable and helpful.“

“The entire staff is so supportive & encouraging beginning with Founders Chef Ryan & Lisa Wagner. Chef Colleen is amazing“

“The teachers are excellent and truly help you both by showing you the proper way and correcting your mistakes.“

“All of the staff at the school are extremely professional and kind at the same time. It is amazing how much you learn from the staff, they continually focus on making sure the students are the focus.“

“Chef Paul was great!“

“When you first meet the instructors at The Culinary Lab they might be intimidating and what might come to mind is some episode of kitchen nightmares with Ramsey! but rest assured, they are the most approachable chefs you will ever meet!aaaaand the knowledge and resources the instructors poses @The Culinary Lab is abundant!“

“The collaborative environment makes for a fun atmosphere and Chef Matt encouraged everyone to ask any question we had. “

“The chefs are great & very passionate about teaching.“

“Chef Mike is an amazing teacher and really takes the time to go into detail and explain techniques.“

“The teachers are phenomenal! Each one not only give you lessons in cooking but also in life. They all genuinely want you to suceed in your careeer. Even after graduating they still keep in touch and help whenever they can.“

“I have been in classes taught by both Chef Wagner and Chef Johnson. They are both fantastic, knowledgable, approachable, witty and talented“

“CulinaryLab is run by a group of the more talented and passionate chefs I've ever had the pleasure of learning from.“

“The chefs were all articulate, patient experts in their respective crafts and you could tell they were excited about teaching and sharing their knowledge with others. True foodies.“

Start your application by talking with our admissions team

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is CulinaryLab so affordable compared to other culinary schools?

At $26,500 for the entire program, CulinaryLab costs less than most traditional culinary schools. We keep fees as low as possible because we don’t believe it’s fair to stick students with high debt after graduation. This is also one reason why we place you in an apprenticeship. You’re able to make money that you can put toward your education or to cover your costs while learning.

Do you offer financial assistance?

While we don't accept FAFSA, we work with a student loan company to offer financing options. Keep in mind, during your 1,000 hour apprenticeship, you make a minimum of $15,000 before graduation.

Can I choose my schedule?

We offer morning (7:00 am to 2:30 pm) and evening (3:00 pm to 10:30 pm) class options two days a week (Monday and Tuesday or Wednesday and Thursday) throughout the year. Our program is two days per week to accommodate students with outside jobs and/or family responsibilities.

Do you guarantee a job after graduation?

You graduate from CulinaryLab with the knowledge and connections needed to excel in a variety of culinary careers. A 1,000-hour paid apprenticeship program is part of the program. Many of our students stay at that job after graduation.

Do I have to take all the classes?

Chef Ryan and the team have narrowed down this program as much as absolutely possible to teach students only what really matters. In order to leave CulinaryLab with the quality education and experience we think is necessary to succeed in the industry, students are required to complete all five parts.

How soon can I get started?

Classes typically fill months in advance. However, we regularly start new sessions. If your application is accepted, you can begin in as few as 3 months.

COVID-19: What safety measures are we taking during COVID?

CulinaryLab takes many steps to ensure student safety, including mandatory face coverings, small class sizes, individual work (no partners), hourly disinfecting of high-traffic areas, and socially distant work stations.

Where are classes held?

CulinaryLab is located in Santa Ana, inside 4th Street Market:

201 E 4th St
Santa Ana, CA 92701

Pro Culinary in Action

CulinaryLab compared to the traditional culinary school model

CulinaryLab's Approach

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vs

Traditional Approach

Start your application by talking with our admissions team

Check out one of our graduate, Veronica, talking about how she succeeded after her biggest change of her life

How to apply and what happens next?

Applying to culinary school can be a leap into the unknown. So we simplified the process, allowing you to gather the information you need without feeling pressured or rushed into a decision.
Classes fill months in advance. So if a CulinaryLab education and apprenticeship interests you, let us know immediately and we’ll get your name on the waitlist.
Once we receive your request, we’ll schedule a 30-minute phone interview with you to learn about you and your vision for your future in the culinary world.
If we determine together that a CulinaryLab program is a strong fit for you, you’re invited to tour the school so you can get a look and feel for our classes.
If you like what you see and want to be considered for enrollment, you’ll submit an application. This puts you one step closer to making your culinary dreams come true.

Start your application by talking with our admissions team

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Hi! I am going to talk with you and help you throughout your application process. We will discuss your needs, questions, and payment options. This “interview” is more like a general conversation about you and how we are able to help you.
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Jim Sutherland

Admissions Manager

Schedule your no-obligation phone interview now to learn more and hold a spot.

Classes are limited to 16 people and fill months in advance.

  • Let us know what type of culinary career you’re interested in, so we can get you the right information.

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