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Culinary Skills

Immerse yourself in the fast-paced world of the commercial kitchen and get the skills you need to start your cooking career.

Two students wearing chef hats and aprons work alongside their chef instructor seen wearing a chef hat and uniform whites.
Students Hannah Harvey and To Yu practice their knife skills with Chef Peter Dewar at Kingstec Campus.
Start Date:
Typical Length:
1 Year

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Develop the skills you need to launch a career in the food service industry. This 1-year Culinary Skills Certificate prepares you to begin working in a commercial kitchen and gives you a pathway to becoming a professional cook.

Grow your passion for food and appreciation for both classic and emerging culinary trends and nutrition. You learn job-ready skills in a hands-on learning environment connected to industry that include:

  • Basic cooking principles
  • Food preparation
  • Food culture and tradition
  • International cooking techniques
  • Farm-to-table food sourcing
  • Culinary history
  • Recipe management

Work experience

  • Field experience is a mandatory credit course, providing the opportunity to apply your knowledge and skills outside the classroom.
    • Opportunities are typically unpaid and last approximately 5 weeks.
  • Transportation, accommodations and other costs related to work experience courses are your responsibility.
  • For more information, visit work experience opportunities.

Choose NSCC

  • Our instructors come from industry with world-class experience and skills.
  • This program was developed with industry – for industry, ensuring your skills are current and relevant.
  • NSCC is proud of our strong working relationship with Sobeys. Each campus with this program is a Sobeys Culinary Centre.

Other info

  • Punctuality and attention to cleanliness are absolute necessities.
  • As this program mirrors a working kitchen, you should be prepared to work industry-type hours, including early mornings, late nights and some weekends.
  • If you have food allergies, dietary requirements or sensitivities to environmental conditions, be aware that you'll frequently be exposed to substances that may affect those sensitivities.
  • If interested in the Canadian Armed Forces Non-Commissioned Member Subsidized Education Plan, you need to apply to the military. If accepted, your tuition fees, books and academic equipment will be paid by the military, in addition to receiving a salary and benefits while attending NSCC.


Seats are available at Akerley, Kingstec and Sydney Waterfront campuses for domestic applicants only. International applicants will be waitlisted.

September 2024

Campus Full time/part time Delivery Availability
Akerley Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Pictou Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.
Seats available
Sydney Waterfront Campus
Full time In person
Delivered in-person. Some courses may have online elements.

Admission requirements

Program requirements

  • You're required to complete industry seminars and certifications, including Basic Food Safety Training and Emergency First Aid/CPR – Level A.
  • Students wishing to take Ship's Cook may choose to take Marine Basic First Aid instead of Emergency First Aid & CPR.
  • Portfolio development – As part of your studies at NSCC, you develop a portfolio of your work; the portfolio captures your achievements and profiles your skills to employers.


Tuition amounts are for the 2024-25 academic year. Program costs and fees (textbooks, supplies, etc.) are additional.

Tuition (Domestic):
Tuition (International):

Tuition, fees and program costs

In addition to annual tuition, there are program costs (books, tools, etc.) and student fees for College services, health and dental plans, your student association and parking.

View detailed program fees page(s). Please note that amounts on these pages are meant for planning purposes only. They don't represent final amounts owing.

Career options

  • Nova Scotia is experiencing a shortage of skilled cooks. Entry-level employment opportunities exist in a range of areas, including:
    • Hotels, resorts and restaurants
    • Public institutions (e.g., schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, nursing homes, correctional facilities, etc.)
    • Private institutions (e.g., golf clubs, yacht clubs, long-term housing, etc.)
    • Catering
    • Marine industries

Future study options

  • Continue your studies at NSCC in Food Service and Nutrition Management where you’ll gain broader training in food preparation, nutrition and business for employment in institutional food service operations.
  • Take the first step on the path towards Journeyperson Certification in the Cook trade. Graduates of this program are eligible for transfer credit upon registration in the Provincial Apprenticeship Program.
  • Red Seal – Cook is a designated trade that qualifies for the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal allows qualified tradespersons to practise the trade in any province or territory in Canada – where the trade is designated – without having to write further examinations.
  • Post Red Seal certification opportunities include the Certified Chef de Cuisine program. In partnership with the Canadian Culinary Institute (CCI), this program is designed for established Red Seal chefs looking to fine tune their skills in the kitchen and deepen their restaurant management expertise.
  • Students who complete the Culinary Skills certificate may apply for second-year entry into Culinary Management. 
    • Successful completion of the co-operative education (Co-op) credit course is required for entry into the Culinary Management program.
  • Ship's Cook Certification training - Enrol at Strait Area Campus and add to your skillset with this Transport Canada-approved certification that prepares you for an in-demand culinary career at sea.

Courses may include

These are some of the courses offered in this program. It is not a complete list and courses are subject to change in advance of the academic year.

Recognizing prior learning / transfer credits
If you have previous learning (course, employment, etc...) that's relevant to your program, you may be able to apply to earn credit. Not all programs are eligible. Learn about our recognizing prior learning (RPL) process.

COMM 1227 - Communications I
This course provides the student with an overview of the communication skills required by business and industry. Students will learn to apply these communication skills to be successful in their selected workplace setting.

COMP 1230 - Computer Essentials
This course is intended to provide students with recipe management and computer skills, including basic electronic spreadsheets, required to communicate and operate within a professional kitchen environment.

COOK 1328 - Introduction to Human Relations
The study of human relations is beneficial to employees in all types of organizations. Students will cover essentials of interacting with individuals and groups from the standpoint of an employee.

COOK 2995 - Work Experience
The work experience component provides the learner with an opportunity to apply new skills and concepts appropriate for entry level positions within the occupation. Learners will assess their own performance and be evaluated by an industry partner. Learners also benefit from the opportunity to identify their personal goals for the work experience, and will keep a journal. This is a course of 175 hours spread over five weeks.

CULS 1020 - Kitchen Essentials
This course is designed to teach the learner the importance of food safety and sanitation while developing culinary skills. Learners will explore how to maintain a safe work environment and how to properly utilize and maintain the tools and equipment of the professional kitchen. Food safety training is achieved in this course.

CULS 1040 - Stocks and Soups
Quality stocks form the solid foundation upon which great soups, sauces and stews are built. In this course, learners will explore proper meat and vegetable stock-making techniques. Building on these stocks learners will prepare classical and modern clear, cream and puree type soups.

CULS 1060 - Vegetables, Fruits and Carbohydrates
Vegetable, fruit and carbohydrate items are more than simple side dishes. They are the cornerstone of modern cuisine that is shifting greater focus towards plant based cookery. In this course, learners will be introduced to selection, storage and best practices in preparing vegetable, fruit and carbohydrate items. Learners will also examine the techniques involved in applying appropriate dry and moist heat cooking methodologies.

CULS 1070 - Protein and Sauce Foundations
Classically, the focus of the plate is the protein- the meat, poultry or fish item being served, with its sauce accompaniment. In this course, learners will be introduced to receiving, handling, storing, and basic fabricating of protein items. The effects of dry and moist heat cooking methods on proteins are demonstrated and practiced. Learners will also identify the qualities of well-prepared sauces.

CULS 1080 - Quick Breads and Yeast Doughs
Bread has been termed “the staff of life.” The ability to produce quality yeast doughs and quick breads is a skill every cook should master. In this course, learners will explore the properties of bakeshop ingredients and apply that knowledge to the preparation of quick breads and basic yeast doughs.

CULS 1100 - Cold Kitchen
A great many talented and successful cooks began their career learning the fundamentals in the cold kitchen. This course introduces the skills and knowledge of preparing salad types, dressings and cold sauces. This course also teaches the preparation of sandwiches and introduces the learner to the principles of food presentation.

CULS 1120 - Eggs and Breakfast
Tradition has it that the pleats of the classic chef’s hat represent the number of ways a cook has mastered egg cookery. This reflects the significance of eggs in the professional kitchen. In this course, learners will practice essential egg cookery and apply these techniques to preparing egg and breakfast dishes. Learners will also explore various breakfast service types.

CULS 1140 - Cakes and Pastries
Today’s cooks are required to possess many skills – including those that were at one time the sole responsibility of dedicated pastry chefs. This course exposes learners to the theory and practical procedures involved in the production of high and low-fat cake types. Baking principles in preparation of sweet and savoury custards will be explored. This course exposes learners to the techniques of making choux paste and basic cookie types.

CULS 1160 - Cooking for Health and Culture
Today more than ever nutrition plays a key role in healthy consumer food choices. Exploring dishes from other cultures to examine food ingredients and preparation introduces the learner to a variety of nutritional food groups. This course is an introduction to the fundamental needs of the human body and the principles of good nutrition. This course also teaches the cuisines and dishes from international cultures and their relationship to healthy eating.

CULS 1170 - Career Readiness
In this course, the learner will obtain valuable resources and gain increased confidence in their ability to achieve employment. The learner will identify employment opportunities and apply job readiness skills. Topics will include job-search strategies, networking skills, and portfolio development.

CULS 1180 - Plant Based Cuisine
Plant based cookery is gaining popularity in today's kitchen as our diets become progressively more global. Nutritional, environmental and sustainability influence menu offerings. In this course, learners are introduced to alternative plant-based diets and apply the cookery of ingredients from international cultures.

CULS 2070 - Protein and Sauce Essentials
Well-prepared protein, sauced and attractively presented can “make or break” a meal. In this course, the learner will apply various cooking methods to protein such as moist, dry and combination heat. In addition, the learner will apply the theory and foundational technique of selecting and preparing derivative and non-derivative sauces.

FANM 9000 - Food Safety Training
Working with food requires knowledge of relevant legislation, codes, and safe food practices to keep staff and customers safe. This course provides information on cleaning and sanitation, food storage and receiving and food borne illnesses.

MATH 1020 - Applied Math for Food Service
In Applied Math for Food Service Professionals students will learn how to perform calculations related to recipe conversions, and the daily cooking tasks that deal with the measurement of distance, weight, volume and temperature.

SAFE 1000 - Introduction to WHMIS (Workplace Hazardous Materials Information Systems)
This course offers learners basic overview of WHMIS principles and establishes a solid foundation to support workplace-specific training on the safe storage and handling of controlled/hazardous products. Upon successful completion of the course, students receive basic WHMIS certification.

SAFE 1001 - Introduction to NS OH&S Act
This course offers students an introduction to the Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) Act of Nova Scotia, which is required by any person employed in a Nova Scotia workplace. This is a generic, introductory course that provides basic knowledge of the Act for students and is considered to be the basis from which more specific training can be given.

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