Professional Program

Professional Culinary Program Overview

Program Starts Annually in September 

The Santa Fe Culinary Academy’s one-year Professional Culinary Program is designed to prepare students for a future in the food service industry. Our approach embraces relevant, long-standing methodology and classical French technique as a foundation for modern procedures. Contemporary practices and a holistic approach to prevailing food trends informs our unique curriculum. Our program is based on the principle of ‘learning by doing.’ Our low student to teacher ratio (no more than 12:1) and small classes allow for a lot of one-on-one work with our instructors. A student’s week consists of demonstrations, hands-on labs, and externship modules, working on and off-site. Throughout the program students work in nearly every capacity within a modern food service operation.

The program begins with a five-week intensive known as ‘Boot Camp.’Students receive certifications in safe food handling, sanitation, and nutrition, as well as alcohol server licensing in the state of New Mexico. Chef instructors lead the students through basic cooking methods, product identification, and proficiency in using professional kitchen equipment. 

The First Rotation introduces the fundamentals of pastry, garde manger, and à la carte cookery as participants move into the laboratory kitchens and continue their hands-on training.

The Second Rotationfocuses on running the student restaurant, “The Guesthouse.” Each student rotates through the four departments: À la Carte, Garde Manger, Pastry, and Dining Room, where they are responsible for all aspects of the restaurant’s operations and lunch service.

The Second Rotation also ushers in the start of the students’ weekly externships and electives. Every week, for the remainder of the program, participants extern in a local food service establishment or attend a chosen elective class. Our partnering properties include restaurants, hotels, bakeries, community food programs, farmer’s markets, and local farms. Student externs learn to work effectively in multiple scenarios, studying different styles of service from casual to fine dining, and from the kitchen to the front-of-house.

In the Third Rotation, students advance to evening classes. This initiates with running The Guesthouse’s more formal, complex, and challenging dinner service. Participants continue to hone their skills in the advanced modules of À la Carte, Garde Manger, Pastry, and Dining Room.

The Fourth Rotation focuses on the professional development of our students. They receive instruction on restaurant accounting, marketing and hospitality and certification in HR management and supervision.

The Restaurant Project Final challenges student groups to design their own restaurant. This project includes everything from menu development and food costing to marketing, branding, and design plans.  A panel of professionals from the restaurant community selects the winners, and as a team the students install the concept into The Guesthouse’smodular facility. The students run the restaurant for the remainder of the program, evaluating their success along the way. 

Our one-year Professional Culinary Program prepares students to embark on a culinary voyage with the right tools in their possession. The versatile nature of our curriculum, plus low student-to-teacher ratio and small classes help create a learning environment that exceeds the needs of a broad range of individuals. After graduation, the SFCA will be an ally and resource for our alumni as they follow their culinary callings.



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