Why Attend Culinary School in Boulder

Interested in attending culinary school in Boulder? Find out what Escoffier’s campus in Boulder, Colorado, has to offer, and see if it might be right for you.

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September 27, 2023 10 min read

If you’re considering enrolling in culinary school, there are likely a handful of variables at the top of your mind—which school to enroll in, which course of study to pursue, whether to attend in person or online, and much more. If you’re considering attending a physical campus, you may want to give some thought to the location of your school.

After all, you’ll likely be living in that city for at least one to two years during your program, if not longer. Since you’ll be spending that much time there, ideally you’d be able to live and study in an environment that you would find fun and fulfilling.

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, named #1 culinary school in the nation by Chef’s Pencil in 2020 and #2 by Best Choice Schools, includes a campus location in scenic Boulder, Colorado. For those seeking an on-campus experience in an exciting place, read on to discover what this particular campus and its dynamic city have to offer.

Escoffier’s Boulder Campus: What to Expect at Culinary School

Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts consistently ranks among the top culinary schools in the nation. But what is it about Escoffier, and about the Boulder campus, that warrants this reputation? Let’s take a closer look.

Watch encouragements from commencement speakers at the Escoffier Boulder Campus Graduation Ceremony.

Culinary Fundamentals: Skills to Elevate Your Career

One of the main reasons students choose to pursue a culinary education is to have the opportunity to develop strong fundamental skills. That was the case for Boulder Culinary Arts Graduate Chris Marhevka, who, at the age of 30, decided to continue his education by pursuing an Associate of Occupational Studies Degree in Culinary Arts. While he already had a career as a social worker and mental health therapist, Chris couldn’t ignore his aspiration to learn to cook at a professional level.

“I wanted to get the basics, learn the fundamentals, learn technique, and then run with it,”* Chris says. The program he enrolled in was particularly attractive to him because it would allow him to complete his course of study in under two years—something that was important to him as he started out on a second career.

Escoffier’s programs are designed to give future culinarians the core skills they may need to become successful. From kitchen basics to advanced techniques, each day builds on the one before it to help students understand why a process works or where a tradition came from.

Chef instructor watching two students plate dishes in a kitchen

Culinary students can work closely with Chef Instructors to learn fundamental techniques.

Beyond the kitchen, students can also explore the business side of the culinary industry. Chefs and cooks must understand how to prevent waste, reduce costs, and ensure profitability in order to keep an operation in business. So topics like cost control, accounting, and purchasing are explored in detail in several programs.

Courses are taught by highly experienced Chef Instructors who are in a position to offer both technical instruction and career insights. “They are more than willing to help you,” Chris says. “They’re more than willing to stay after class, or meet before class, have discussions, because they care about food. They care about students.”*

Farm to Table® Experience: Lessons in Sustainability

One of the most popular courses among students at Escoffier is the Farm to Table® experience. This is where students discover the processes of sustainable food production. The goal of the program is to help future culinarians develop respect and appreciation for the food creation process.

In Boulder, we’re lucky to have some amazing partners that we work with to bring this valuable education to our students, like Three Sisters Farm & Ranch, Ollin Farms, and Black Cat Farm. Students may have the opportunity to spend one day per week with one of our partners, getting their hands dirty and learning what really goes into producing our raw materials.

“We do a really good job in our Farm-to-Table curriculum where we really try to help the students understand what to do about in-season produce, preserving it, and instilling [sustainability] into their own cooking.”*
Chef Stephanie Michalak White
Chef Stephanie Michalak White
Escoffier Director of Education

Externship Opportunities: Putting Your Skills to Work

For their final course, all students must complete one or two hands-on industry externships as a requirement before graduation. And in a food-loving town like Boulder and its surrounding areas, the opportunities are many! Students can pursue industry externships in high-quality farm-to-table restaurants, catering companies, hotels, and more to improve their technique and start making valuable industry connections.

Chris wound up doing his externship at La Marmotte, a fine-dining French restaurant located in the historic resort town of Telluride in southwestern Colorado. La Marmotte regularly accepts Escoffier students as part of this externship program. Chris was recommended for the program by the Career Services department, which also assisted him through the application and interview phases.

Without the support of Escoffier’s staff, Chris says, “I wouldn’t have found that placement…They set [my interview] up, and within a week, I had an externship placement and I was figuring out the logistics of making that happen. That wouldn’t have even been a possibility for me if it had not been for the Chef Instructors and the support staff at Escoffier having faith that I would be qualified for such a position.”*

“I wanted to make the most of my life, and I didn’t want any sort of aspirations to go unspoken and unexplored. I figured now is the time to put it into action. So here I am.”*
Chris Marhevka
Chris Marhevka
Escoffier Boulder Culinary Arts Graduate

The City of Boulder: A Top Place to Live and Work

Tucked into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, Boulder claims a thriving economy, a great quality of life, and a wealth of natural beauty. It’s often ranked as one of the very best places to live in the entire country—#4, according to U.S. News & World Report in 2023.

As a culinary student, you’ll find there’s no shortage of places to go and things to do when you get a break from your studies. Let’s take a closer look at what makes this city so special.

A Great Food Scene with a Local Focus

Named “America’s Foodiest Town” by Bon Appétit, Boulder can be the ideal environment for an aspiring culinarian.

Boulder Farmers Market is a wonderful resource for fresh produce and protein from local farms. The market is open on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, selling items like fresh local produce, milk, cheese, meat, eggs, bread, and more.

Farm-to-table restaurants like The Kitchen American Bistro, Blackbelly, Leaf Vegetarian Restaurant, and Flagstaff House are some of the best in Boulder—and they’ve all hired Escoffier graduates! There are restaurants here representing cuisines from all over the world…Italian, French, Spanish. Mexican and Central Asian. Japanese and Tibetan. You can go on a culinary world tour without ever leaving the city!

View of shops with mountains in the background in downtown boulder colorado

Bustling Pearl Street is home to some of Boulder’s best restaurants.

Boulder is also rife with breweries, wineries, and distilleries, plus artisan makers of honey, salami, cheese, kombucha, and more. It can feel like whatever you want to eat or make, you’ll find it in Boulder.

And all of this variety means there could be many opportunities here—both for externships and for jobs once your program is complete!

Unique Cultural Opportunities

Though Boulder may be a smaller city, it’s big on cultural opportunities. It’s home to a number of museums, including the Museum of Natural History and the Fiske Planetarium, both on the campus of the University of Colorado Boulder, and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, which features rotating exhibitions of modern artists.

For music and other performing arts, check out the Dairy Arts Center, which also hosts gallery space and a cinema. Other venues for live music include the Chautauqua Auditorium, Boulder Theater, and the Fox Theatre. Slightly further afield is the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater, an open-air venue built into a dramatic rock formation; it’s about 30 minutes south of Boulder, just outside of Denver.

Unbelievable Natural Surroundings

In Boulder, nature is your playground. When you’re able to take time away from your coursework, hiking, mountain biking, fly fishing, tubing, and kayaking are all readily available and can help you connect with nature and feel rejuvenated before your next class.

Within Boulder County, there are more than 45,000 acres of preserved open space and over 150 miles of hiking trails. Popular hikes include the Mount Sanitas Trail and the various trails winding from Chautauqua Park up toward the Flatirons, a series of mountainous peaks that tower over the city.

The Flatirons in Boulder Colorado

The majestic Flatirons stand tall over the city of Boulder.

About an hour from Escoffier’s campus is Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most visited national parks in the nation. With over 150 lakes, towering mountains, stunning scenic drives, a myriad of wildlife, fishing, camping, and 355 miles of hiking trails, Boulder residents are fortunate to have this beloved park so close to home.

When the snow starts falling, Eldora Mountain is the nearest spot for skiing and other winter sports. No matter the season, the Boulder area offers an almost endless variety of outdoor activities—one of the indisputable advantages of living in this special city!

Advance Your Career at Culinary School in Boulder

Attending culinary school at Escoffier’s campus in Boulder can be a great opportunity to not only get an excellent culinary education, but also to live in this wonderful city.

Can’t make it to Boulder? We have another campus in the equally vibrant and exciting city of Austin, Texas! However, you don’t have to relocate to another city in order to attend culinary school. With Escoffier’s online degree and diploma programs, you can get a culinary education from right where you are—whether that’s in the United States, on a military base, or virtually from somewhere else in the world.

If you’re considering your options for culinary school, contact us to talk about which campus—Boulder, Austin, or online offered through our Boulder campus—could be right for you.


This article was originally published on September 3, 2021, and has since been updated.

*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.

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