three in kitchen
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
The Culinary Apprenticeship program delivers 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.
This paid apprenticeship culinary program will 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 paid apprenticeships, 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:
FAQ - CMC Culinary Arts Apprenticeship program
What type of program is the Culinary Arts Apprenticeship?
We are a three-year intensive hands on culinary paid apprenticeship program that develops essential, real world, work skills and provides you with a solid classroom education at the same time.
Why is the program three years long?
The Culinary Apprenticeship Program combines three years of hands-on experience with a two-year degree in culinary arts. In other words, you can accomplish a combined five years’ worth of school and work experience into one three-year program.
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 Training” 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.
To graduate from the CMC Culinary Institute program you will have a minimum of 4,000 hours of experience.
Do I get paid?
Yes. As an Apprentice at Keystone you are also an employee.
All apprentices are brought into the program at $12.00/hour. (Based on anticipated starting wage for the 2018 season. This is not a guarantee of starting 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 enrolls one new class of apprentices every August. Students accepted into the program will spend the first 8 weeks of the program taking a series of intensive hands-on classes three days a week as well as English Composition. The students will begin their apprenticeship in late October or early November.
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.
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:
Tuition for Culinary AAS Degrees for 2020/21
Ready to Take the Next Step?
Would you like to learn more about the culinary apprenticeship program? Contact us for info or to speak to an admissions counselor.
Curious about what you’ll learn as you earn this degree? Explore the class list.
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.
We gauge our success by our students’ success. Based on what our students accomplish following graduation, we must be doing pretty well.
“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. Read more: Eric 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. Read more: Sara Watson
“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. Read more: Steve Nguyen
“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
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. Read more: AJ Fazendin
“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 , 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) Read more: Brian Baker
“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
“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. Read more: Matt Vawter