Culinary Arts Apprenticeship at Colorado Mountain College

Colorado Mountain College offers a superior, in-kitchen apprenticeship in four diamond restaurants —for thousands less than other culinary schools. Photo: Colorado State Champions, 2017.

In this program you will have a hands-on experience, both through rotations in four-diamond restaurants and in classroom education. You’ll graduate the program having completed a traditional American Culinary Federation apprenticeship and with an Associate of Applied Science degree – for THOUSANDS less than other colleges in Colorado.

In the culinary apprenticeship program, you’ll kick start your career by working in up to six different restaurants over the course of the program, gaining real world experience that employers look for. (In fact, many graduates have been hired by these restaurants right after they graduate.)

At the end of the program, your resume will have full-service hotel, large-scale banquet, quick serve, and fine dining experience.

The culinary arts apprenticeship program is based at Keystone Resort, a member of the Vail Resorts family of Resorts. Kitchen learning is supplemented by classrooms at our Breckenridge and Dillon campuses.

Learn more about the program, including the curriculum, faculty and costs below:

Low-Debt Degrees Are Smarter

The culinary arts apprenticeship program is among the most affordable in Colorado while offering a quality, hands-on education where you’ll gain real-world experience and build professional connections that help you gain employment after graduation. That's smart.

Unlike many other culinary programs in Colorado, our culinary apprenticeship program students appreciate how CMC’s low costs prevent them from graduating with crushing debt. See how we compare:

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View Curriculum

Curious about what you’ll learn as you earn this degree? Explore the class list.

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Learn About Tuition

Even though ours is the most affordable culinary degree in Colorado, we know you still might need some help a little help paying for it.

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Fueling Success

We gauge our success by our students’ success. Based on what our students accomplish following graduation, we must be doing pretty well.

Eric Watson

“It was the most rewarding experience of my life. This is the real world. The other school I attended just kind of simulated it. This program gave me 100% confidence because I was doing the work on a daily basis. The Colorado Mountain College Culinary Institute at Keystone provides an ideal environment for aspiring culinarians. The three-year apprenticeship equips passionate culinarians with the confidence to succeed in an aggressive and competitive industry.”

Eric Watson and his wife, Sara, another CMCCI graduate, own and operate Mezzaluna in Fargo, named best restaurant in North Dakota by msn.com and OpenTable.

Sara Watson

“My experience at the Colorado Mountain College Culinary Institute was extremely challenging yet rewarding. The three years of hands-on training in a variety of kitchens provided me with the skills necessary to move forward in the kitchen and discover my own creativity. I learned the business end of the industry, from bookkeeping and keeping track of profit margins to marketing. Without this knowledge, our business would not be nearly as successful as it is today.”

Sara Watson is co-owner of Mezzaluna in Fargo, named best restaurant in North Dakota by msn.com and OpenTable. She manages the restaurant with her husband, Eric, another graduate.

Steve Nguyen

“Without the CMC program, I know I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. It is not only an honor but it is a pretty big privilege to be at this level at such a young age and so fresh out of college.”

Steve Nguyen is the Executive Chef of Hospitality the Keystone Resort in Keystone, Colorado.

Charles MacDonald

“Colorado Mountain College and Chef Kevin Clarke instilled in me the importance of foundation. There is no better foundation that I could have built my career upon than the one I received and experienced at Colorado Mountain College.” A Colorado native, Chef Charles MacDonald graduated as Colorado’s student culinarian of the year for 2007. Working with The PlimothOwner/Executive Chef Peter Ryan, Chef Charles crafts some of Denver’s best French cuisine. Formerly a Sous Chef at Omni Interlocken Resort in Broomfield, Chef Charles’ approach to cooking is first and foremost traditional, but with contemporary presentations and techniques. Charles MacDonald, Executive Chef, The Plimoth Restaurant, Denver

AJ Fazendin

CMC culinary graduate A.J. Fazendin launches Prescribed Spirits in Broward County, Florida. He’s custom distilling gin and breaking ground with an entrepreneurship partnership. An excellent martini gin, his recipe blends herbs and botanicals. He said it’s very fragrant, smooth and without overpowering juniper flavor.

Brian Baker

“I started out at the [Keystone] Ski Tip as executive chef in ’04, and 11 years later, we were recognized nationally for creating consistent, upscale cuisine. With the Open Table award, last year we made the top 100 list, and we felt like our hard work had finally been recognized. This year [2014], this time around, being named sixth best restaurant in the country goes to show that consistency in product and a quality staff in the front and the back of the house — the majority of whom come from Colorado Mountain College’s culinary program — make a real difference.”

Brain Baker, Chef/Owner, Watershed Café, Leavenworth, WA (locally sourced – farm to table, Pacific north west cuisine)

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

Matt Vawter

“My education at CMC has helped me in my career because of the three years of true kitchen experience. 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. The chefs at Keystone helped mold me into the professional I am today.

Awards/Accolades: 2014 Zagat 30 under 30; 2015 Prince of porc Winner Dever Cochon 555/Competitor Grand Cochon; 5280 Magazine Best New Restaurants 2015; Best New Restaurant 2015 Westword; 5280 Magazine Best Restaurants 2015 #3; Ten Coolest Train Station Restaurants in the World – Travel & Leisure Magazine.

Matt Vawter, Chef de Cuisine/Proprietor, Mercantile Dining & Provision, Denver.