FAQs • Stratford Chefs School



‘‘We are all incredibly proud of Stratford and its unique appeal to visitors from all over the world.  Local businesses, events, and cultural institutions set a high bar in special experiences, customer service, and entrepreneurial ingenuity that results in huge benefits to the local economy, jobs, and the social fabric of our city.”

 Carrie Wreford, Co-Owner Bradshaws & Kitchen Detail | Past Board Chair, Stratford Tourism Alliance

Stratford is a small city of 32,000 about an hour and a half west of Toronto, best known for its four cultural pillars; theatre, food, art and music.

Situated in Perth County, Stratford is surrounded by some of Canada’s most productive farmland. Crowned in 1997 by Nations in Bloom as ‘the prettiest city in the world,’ Stratford straddles the Avon River and is named for Stratford-upon-Avon, England, birthplace of William Shakespeare. In the winter the city is just as pretty, with snow glittering from church spires and treetops.

The Stratford Festival, established in 1953, transformed the former railway town into a magnet for artists, writers and musicians.

A cultural haven, Stratford was an obvious place to establish the Stratford Chefs School in 1983, which in turn attracted, and graduated, some of the country’s best chefs and hospitality professionals.

It is no surprise that a large number of visitors make an annual pilgrimage to Stratford for theatre and culinary experiences that rival the best on the continent.


One of the city’s greatest charms is its leisurely pace.  Stratford is a city in name only – in truth it’s a rarity: a rural town with a vibrant cultural core.  Its historic downtown, organized around a Victorian City Hall, offers a surprising array of unique boutiques, book stores, a public library, banks, galleries, spas, cafes, breweries and, of course, restaurants and food shops.


For art aficionados, the city offers a number of commercial galleries and studios.  Gallery Stratford, Shane Norrie Gallery, Agora and Gallery 96 exhibit works year-round by visiting and local artists.  During the theatre season Art-in-the-Park is a regular feature adjacent to the Avon River.

Stratford’s historic neighbourhoods feature numerous well-preserved Victorian houses, many of which become winter residences for Chefs School students and Bed & Breakfasts during the theatre season in the summer.

Perth County is home to a wide variety of farmers’ markets and artisan food producers, many of whom have long-standing relationships with the Chefs School.


Stratford restaurants are popular spots for winding down after a long day, or for rubbing shoulders with the theatre community after a performance.

For music fans, a variety of live concert events, from large to small, happen throughout the year. Stratford is home to Stratford Summer Music, a 6-week summer festival and the Stratford Symphony Orchestra, which performs an annual season of concerts from fall through early spring. As well, Stratford has an active chamber music group called InnerChamber, a Music and Opera Appreciation Society, and the Stratford Concert Choir, among others.

Stratford is also the home of pop star Justin Bieber; the Stratford-Perth Museum offers an exhibit that highlights his ‘steps to stardom.’

A highlight of the winter season in Stratford is the Chefs School student-led Dinner Series for the public that runs Tuesday through Saturday evening from late October through late February.

Applications are accepted for both our 16-week Diploma program and our 32-week Professional Diploma program year-round.

Apprenticeship is based on the premise that we learn by doing, under the guidance of an experienced practitioner in a skilled trade.

A Cook Apprenticeship at Stratford Chefs School is no different.  Here, a student begins by learning basic skills and techniques under the watchful eye of our Chef Instructors through our immersive, hands-on program model.

As training progresses students gain the experience and skills required to meet the increasingly complex demands of the trade.

Upon successful completion of the required elements of training, a student is eligible for Red Seal certification.  Successful completion of the Certification of Qualification Exam (Red Seal) completes Apprenticeship training.

The Stratford Chefs School’s immersive, hands-on program model is built on the belief that a harmonious mix of practical and theoretical courses exposes students to all aspects of cuisine and facilitates the student’s development into a skilled and thoughtful chef.

Our program includes training students in all aspects of owning and operating a small business.  This unique entrepreneurial model is recognized for giving Stratford Chefs School alumni a well-rounded foundation for success in a wide variety of specializations within the hospitality industry.

Curriculum at Stratford Chefs School is enriched in several ways:

Our academic semester runs for 16 weeks, in contrast to the provincial curriculum standard of 12 weeks.

In-class training hours at Stratford Chefs School exceed provincial requirements by 244 hours in year one and by 360 hours in year two, for a total of 604 more in-class training hours over two years than the provincial requirement.

A completed Apprenticeship (Red Seal certification), is the only standard in the industry.

Red Seal certification gives you:

  • A competitive edge and flexibility in the job market
  • Increased employment opportunities and job security
  • National, and International, credential recognition
  • Financial aid opportunities (grants and loans)

Curriculum at Stratford Chefs School is enriched in several ways:

Our academic semester runs for 16 weeks, in contrast to the provincial curriculum standard of 12 weeks.

In-class training hours at Stratford Chefs School exceed provincial requirements by 244 hours in year one and by 360 hours in year two, for a total of 604 more in-class training hours over two years than the provincial requirement.

Our program is expensive to deliver, but we don’t cut corners.

Tuition fees are realistic thanks to our not-for-profit business model.

In Level One an Apprentice pays $14 per hour of in-class training.

In Level Two an Apprentice pays $11 per hour of in-class training.

Stratford Chefs School is regulated by three branches of The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities:

  • Employment Ontario Apprenticeship Branch
    • Regulated through Provincial Curriculum Standards
    • Credential: Training Delivery Agent – Cook Apprenticeship
  • Private Career Colleges (PCC) Branch
    • Regulated through annual institution registration and vocational program approval
    • Credential:
      • PCC ID #130476
      • Approved vocational program: Cook: Basic – Level 1
  • Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) Branch
    • Regulated through the annual institution approval process

Please visit the Financial Aid page on our website for more information.

Financial Aid

Private Career Colleges (PCCs) are independent organizations that offer certificate and diploma programs in many fields, such as business, health services, human services, applied arts, information technology, electronics, services and trades. Some PCCs operate as for-profit businesses and others are not-for-profit institutions.

Yes, if there is space available in the Level 2 program in October, and the Student meets all eligibility criteria.

This accelerated study schedule is an effective way to “fast-track” our 32 week Professional Diploma Program, and complete it in less than one year.


Stratford Chefs School instructors are qualified in compliance with Private Career College instructor qualification regulations.

Yes.  One of the goals of the SCSAA is to build long term networking and mentorship relationships with students and graduates of the School.

Each incoming student is paired with a SCSAA mentor.

Networking and mentorship occurs very naturally amongst our alumni family. Members work locally, nationally and internationally in the hospitality industry, and beyond.

Alumni sit on our volunteer Board of Directors, volunteer Advisory Group and hold numerous roles in the organization, including Executive Director, Program Manager and a variety of Instructor roles.

Stratford Chefs School offers a foundational curriculum for a number of diverse career options and specializations within the hospitality industry, and beyond.

Students and graduates are in high demand and ready to start in entry to mid-level roles.

Our Alumni work in diverse fields including, but not limited to; entrepreneur, teacher, caterer, private chef, recipe tester, product developer & marketer, culinary tourism, food writing & photography, winemaking, cheesemaking, breadmaking, food-styling, butchery, dietician, nutritional sciences, cookbook authors, front of house professionals, restaurant designers, architects, various consulting roles, brewers & sommeliers.

We produce a weekly job posting list that is made available to all students and Alumni.

Additional assistance in making industry connections and securing placements is available as required.

Stratford Chefs School does not offer student accommodations.

The School compiles a list of local rental accommodation providers and provides it to Chefs School students to help them secure housing.

Students are responsible for making their own accommodation arrangements.

Stratford Chefs School does not offer a formal meal plan.

  • All in-class meals are included in tuition fees.
  • Three group meals, in our student-led restaurant dinner labs, are included in tuition fees.

Information events & tours are offered throughout the year for prospective students and their parents.

Join our newsletter email list for regular updates (on our homepage).

Our Admissions team is available to answer any questions that you may have.

Please send your questions through the ‘Ask Us’ button (on our homepage).

Our Graduation ceremony takes place each year on a Sunday afternoon in early June.

Graduating students are invited to bring three guests with them to the ceremony.

Graduation fees are included in tuition fees.

The rigor of the curriculum at Stratford Chefs School is designed to prepare students for the real world and the realities of the industry.

At Stratford Chefs School students receive training from a variety of Chef Instructors and invited Guest Chefs with diverse and extensive industry experience.  Students form industry connections as a natural outcome of our unique training model.

In our Level One program students create multiple recipes in each practical class, and then enjoy them as a group, exposing our students to over 360 recipes in 16 weeks of training.

In our Level Two program, our student-led restaurant dinner menus change daily. Students create and serve 80 unique and diverse multi-course menus to the public over the course of 16 weeks of training, exposing our students to over 400 recipes.

Stratford Chefs School curriculum and training model is designed to provide students with:

  • Foundational work in cooking to high standards
    • The program begins by teaching the basic skills and techniques from both French and Italian classic culinary traditions and evolves into contemporary, cutting edge and International technique and skill set training.
  • Foundational work in life skill development
    • Leadership, teamwork, collaboration, punctuality, communication, professionalism, problem solving, networking, collaboration, work-ethic, self-motivation & interpersonal skill development are all built into our curriculum and training model.

In addition, formal Apprenticeship training offers many advantages (see Why is Apprenticeship training advantageous?)

A Chef role denotes a level of leadership, and often management, that generally speaking a Cook role does not.

32-week Professional Diploma, Level One:

Classes run Tuesday through Saturday, and take place in the morning, afternoon, and evening.

Schedules change in a 4-week rotation, allowing each student to learn with each of the different Chef Instructors, in both teaching kitchens, and at different times of the day.

Morning practical cookery classes begin at 8:15am, afternoon theory classes begin between 1 and 1:30pm, and evening practical cookery classes and practical pastry classes run 5:30-9:30pm.

Additionally, students are scheduled for one or two service shifts at the student-led restaurant labs each week. This valuable opportunity allows the student to develop skill and comfort in serving a dining room, or the chance to observe the action in the kitchen as a dishwasher.

At Stratford Chefs School 13% of in-class training is experiential in Level One, and 56% of in-class training is experiential in Level Two.

The benefits of the experiential, or work integrated learning, elements of our program model are:

-Ability to immediately apply knowledge.

-Access to real-time coaching and feedback.

-Promotion of teamwork and communication skills.

-Development of reflective practice habits.

-Accomplishments are obvious.

At Stratford Chefs School 100% of in-class practical training is hands-on.

To qualify for an Apprenticeship, you must:

-Be at least 16 years of age.

-Have legal permission to work in Canada (for example, have a valid social insurance number).

-Have a High School Diploma, or GED (General Education Development), or the equivalent.

We offer one Apprenticeship program – Cook.

An Apprenticeship is registered by means of a contract between an eligible student and the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges & Universities.

Stratford Chefs School serves as the Sponsor on student Apprenticeship contracts.

Please note, for students under 18 years of age, a parent or guardian must sign the Apprenticeship contract on the student’s behalf.

No, a Ministry representative will join us during Orientation Week to complete Apprenticeship contracts as a group.

Prior to Orientation Week you are required to submit an Application for Apprenticeship directly to the Ministry along with any required supporting documentation. If everything is submitted, by you, on time your Apprenticeship Contract will be ready for you to sign during Orientation Week.

Please see the ABOUT THE 32-WEEK PROGRAM page for links & details.

Our Ministry representative needs to be made aware of this prior to Orientation Week.

The existing Apprenticeship contract will be re-registered with Stratford Chefs School as the Sponsor.

Upon successful completion of the required elements of Apprenticeship training, Stratford Chefs School will assist you in the completion of your Apprenticeship with the Ministry.

Our Ministry representative will also be happy to assist you with any questions that you have throughout the Apprenticeship training process.

Yes, we do.  Our Red Seal exam preparatory course is built into our curriculum and is delivered in the final week of Level Two classes.

The cost of this course is included in tuition fees.

16-week Diploma

This program accommodates 15 students each June.


32-week Professional Diploma

This program accommodates 70 students in total (over two years), with on average 40 students entering the year one program each October.

Our Chef Instructor to student ratio in the kitchen is 1:15 maximum.

Our students range in age from 18 to 50+. 

The annual average age range is mid-to-late 20s.

16-week Diploma

This program was designed to allow students the flexibility to remain working evenings and weekends while attending classes.


32-week Professional Diploma

This program is fully immersive and was designed to offer students a realistic industry experience.

Class schedules rotate Tuesday through Saturday from the early morning until late in the evening.

Working while attending this program can present challenges.

16-Week Diploma

Cook: Basic – Level 1 Diploma

ADVANCED.fst 3rd. Ed. Management Level Certificate in Food Safety Training (if eligible)


32-Week Professional Diploma

Diploma in Cookery (2-year)

Certificate of Apprenticeship (if eligible)

Cook Red Seal Certification (if eligible)

We offer two full-time programs; a 16-week Diploma program and a 32-week Professional Diploma program.

We offer a wide variety of alternative options through our Open Kitchen program.

What Sets Stratford Chefs School Apart

Innovative, World-class Program*

Our unique program model is method-based, hands-on, experiential, work-integrated learning, safely adapted to Covid-19 protocols.

High Quality Program*

An enriched, immersive curriculum with exceptional standards and small classes. Collaborative, experiential learning through practical classes, Dinner Labs, and Dinners To Go, with strict adherence to Public Health requirements.

Expert Instructors

Our approachable Chef Instructors and Guest Chefs bring diverse experience and culinary backgrounds to our collaborative, real-world learning environment.

Not-for-Profit Model

Profits are reinvested into our program and facilities; fundraising helps keep tuition costs realistic.


SCS is widely recognized for training cooks who become the best chefs. Our reputation is built on Alumni success stories.


*This Employment Ontario Apprenticeship In-Class Training is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.  


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