Culinary Arts Apprenticeship Track at Colorado Mountain College

CMC offers a superior, in-kitchen apprenticeship for thousands less than other culinary schools

The Culinary Arts Apprenticeship track delivers the college’s most comprehensive hands-on learning experience, paired with the AAS Culinary Arts Degree. You’ll graduate from the apprenticeship track having completed a modern American Culinary Federation apprenticeship, an Associate of Applied Science degree, your U.S. Department of Labor Journey Cook certification and you qualify to take the American Culinary Federation Certified Sous Chef exam.

This paid apprenticeship will kick start your career with a minimum of 4,000 hours of structured on-the-job learning in up to six different restaurants over the course of the program, gaining real world experience that employers value.  At the end of the apprenticeship, your resume will have full-service hotel, large-scale banquet, quick serve, and fine dining experience.

The culinary arts apprenticeship track is sponsored by the Keystone Resort, a member of the Vail Resorts family of Resorts and is offered at the Summit Campus. The apprenticeship program has been identified as an Exemplary Program by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation.

Learn more about the program, including the curriculum, faculty and costs. See the Culinary Arts Apprenticeship FAQ below.

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Culinary Arts Apprenticeship Track FAQ

What type of program is the Culinary Arts Apprenticeship Track?

We are a comprehensive, hands-on learning program that develops essential, real world, work skills and paired with a solid classroom education at the same time.

How long is the program?

The average student takes three-years (9 semesters) to complete the requirements of the program; which include 4,000 hours of work experience and the demonstration of a wide variety of culinary skills on the job.

Student’s with prior experience may complete the program in as few as two-years by demonstrating the required skills and taking additional academic coursework.

Where is the campus?

We are based at the Keystone Resort. Our students rotate through a different kitchen every six months, which helps promote the development of a well-rounded cook and future chef.

The restaurants that you will rotate through include the Keystone Ranch, The Alpenglow Stube, The Ski Tip Lodge, the Keystone Conference Center, and many other of the resort’s dining facilities.

All of our culinary classes our taught at our Breckenridge location with the remaining general education courses being offered at either our Dillon or Breckenridge locations.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship style education is based on an “On the Job Learning” system where you learn by doing.

You will be working in actual restaurants and will be required to perform at the level of the restaurant in which you are working. Your daily test is the guest eating your food.

Do I get paid?

Yes. As an Apprentice at Keystone you are also an employee. Apprentices are paid a competitive market wage. You will also qualify for a variety of benefits packages that will include health benefits, ski passes, and on mountain discounts.

The benefits package that you qualify for may vary. For more details please call Keystone Human Resources directly.

When does the program start?

The program traditionally starts every fall semester, with spring semester starts available on a limited basis.

What about vacations?

You will be working in a Resort environment. During the typical vacation seasons we are at our busiest. You should plan on working major holidays. Vacation time while enrolled in the program are during the Resort’s slow seasons that are during April and May in the spring, and October in the fall.

What about experience before I enroll?

We strongly recommend six months of experience in a restaurant that produces items from scratch before enrolling in the program. Most of our current students have either a year of experience or six months of experience and have been enrolled in a ProStart course.


Matt Vawter: A Legacy of Fine Dining

Matt Vawter rose quickly through the ranks after graduating from CMC with a degree in culinary arts. He is currently the proprietor of the award-winning restaurant Rootstalk in Breckenridge.

A native of Summit County, Matt returned to the mountains after making a name for himself as executive chef at Mercantile Dining & Provision in Denver. Matt often hires fellow CMC grads to work for him.

“My education at CMC has helped me in my career because of the three years of true kitchen experience,” Matt says. “Not only was I introduced to all of the elements of classic cuisine, but I also was able to apply my classroom education in kitchens around the resort on a daily basis. When I graduated, I was ready to step into any kitchen I wanted to.”

Read more: Matt Vawter: A Legacy of Fine Dining

Kevin McCombs

“The culinary apprentice program at Colorado Mountain College was the perfect start to my career in the hospitality industry. It furnished me with the tools to become the Executive Chef of the award-winning Ski Tip Lodge and go on to owning my business as a personal chef in House Cured Culinary. You, too, can jump start your culinary career with the Colorado Mountain College Keystone Culinary Institute.”

Kevin McCombs, House Cured Culinary/Owner/Executive Chef, Dillon, Colorado Read more: Kevin McCombs

Our Restaurant Partners

logo: The Alpenglow Stube
logo: The Bighorn Bistro & Bar
logo: Der Fondue Chessel
logo: Keystone Ranch
logo: Ski Tip Lodge