Wisconsin Technical Colleges Near Me

Helping in the kitchen could lead to a great career

By Susan Pohorski

Do you remember helping out in the kitchen, licking the beaters while your mother or dad made cookies? You probably had to put on an apron and step up on a stool to reach the counter when you poured ingredients into the bowl. When I was in high school, my job was making salad for dinner. I loved making omelets too. 

With more mothers working outside the home, parents are spending less time in the kitchen and families are using quick and easy meals. Many more families are eating out as well. 

If your children and teens aren’t helping you in the kitchen, they could be missing out on a great career exploration opportunity. Sure cooking teaches measuring and math skills, but it could also lead to a great career. 

Starting young
By the time he was in eighth grade, Mike Balistrieri knew he wanted to become a chef. He chose the culinary program at Fox Valley Technical College (FVTC) where he got great instruction, restaurant experience and learned to use the latest equipment. Eventually, he became an executive chef at several fine-dining restaurants. 

Justin Aprahamian entered the culinary world at the age of 12, helping out with his uncle’s catering company. He now owns the Sanford Restaurant in Milwaukee and was named Best Chef Midwest in 2014. 

Chef shortage
In Wisconsin, restaurants are struggling to find enough chefs. There are more jobs available than there are cooks and chefs to fill them. In 2012, 117,000 individuals were employed as head cooks or chefs in Wisconsin. The Bureau of Labor statistics predicts 3% to 7% growth in this field from 2012-2022 and projected job openings of 24,700. 

“This shortage is due to the consistently strong demand for dining out and a strong economy with plenty of job opportunities,” said Chef Jeff Igel, culinary arts department chair and instructor for FVTC. 

Colleges improve culinary facilities
In 2013 FVTC opened the Jones Dairy Farm Culinary Theatre. The state-of-the-art kitchen can seat 120 students. It was built with a combination of donations and funds from a referendum. 

Restaurant owners in Madison are seeing fierce competition for employees. Some have had to cut hours of operation due to the shortage. Madison College is planning to double the size of its Truax campus culinary facility to increase the number of students receiving training there.

The Lakeshore Culinary Institute, Lakeshore Technical College's teaching and dining facility set in Sheboygan's Riverfront Neighborhood, brings together traditional fine dining and Culinary Arts instruction. 

In the state-of- the-art Manitowoc Company Culinary Kitchen students learn to use the most advanced tools in the industry. The LTC Culinary Arts program is patterned after a European style apprenticeship program with multiple area chefs teaching real world application. Students run their own restaurant throughout their training. 

Earning potential
According to Indeed.com, the average salary for a chef in Wisconsin is $43,000. Restaurant chefs can expect to make $52,000. Executive chefs for upscale dining establishments make an average of $57,000 and corporate chefs have an average annual salary of $74,000. 

Remember these jobs do not require a 4-year college degree. In fact, you can start a culinary career with a 1-year Culinary Assistant technical diploma and complete the Culinary Arts associate degree program while you work. 



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