FAQs - Stratford Chefs School


Successful Completion of Level 1:

Cook: Basic – Level 1 Diploma (PCC student only)

ADVANCED.fst 3rd. Ed. Management Level Certificate in Food Safety Training (80% is required in the course for a certificate to be issued)

Successful Completion of Level 1&2:

Certificate of Apprenticeship (Apprentices only)

Stratford Chefs School Diploma in Cookery (as applicable)

Stratford is a small city of 30,000, about an hour and a half west of Toronto. It’s known for its world-class theatre and its culinary excellence makes it a destination for food lovers from around the world.

Stratford, only a few hours from the Niagara wine region, is surrounded by some of Canada’s most productive and lovely 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 winter the city is just as pretty, with snow glittering from church spires and treetops.

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival, established in 1953, transformed this former railway town into a magnet for artists, writers, academics, and journalists.

A cultural haven, Stratford was an obvious place to establish the Stratford Chefs School, which has in turn attracted some of the country’s finest chefs and food service specialists.

It’s no surprise that a large number of visitors make an annual pilgrimage to Stratford for theatre and restaurants 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, professional offices, book stores, a public library, banks, galleries, bars, hair salons and, of course, food venues.


  • For art aficionados, the city offers a number of commercial galleries and studios. Gallery Stratford and Gallery 96 both exhibit works year round by visiting and local artists. During the theatre season an outdoor art exhibit is a regular feature in a park adjacent to the river
  • Stratford’s historic neighborhoods feature many well-preserved Victorian houses, some of which become winter residences for Stratford Chefs School students
  • The area surrounding Stratford is home to farmers’ markets and artisan food producers, many of whom are direct suppliers to the School


  • Stratford bars and pubs are popular spots for winding down after a long day or for rubbing shoulders with the theatre community after a performance
  • After theatre season ends, many performers give their time and talents to fun charity events on winter evenings
  • For music fans, a variety of venues around town feature jazz, folk, blues or chamber music, with local or visiting musicians and singers
  • Regular movies at the Stratford Cinema are complemented by a monthly film series hosted by Gallery Stratford, which also offers courses in art and photography as well as a free lecture series
  • One of the highlights of winter in Stratford is the Chefs School Dinners and Lunches 


  • Biking
  • Hiking
  • Cross-country skiing
  • Snow-shoeing
  • Golf, curling and hockey at Stratford’s Country Club and arena
  • Pilates, yoga, step and weight-training at variety of other downtown fitness centres

Since 1983 when we opened, we have been setting the standard of excellence in culinary training in Canada. The School is unique – it is the only culinary institute in the country that is operated by working restaurant professionals. That’s why our curriculum is current and relevant – we keep in step with changing market developments in the restaurant industry.

We offer only the full-time program. Part-time courses are not currently available.

There’s no rule against it, but the time commitment for our program – classes, lab work, and assignments – would make outside work very difficult to take on. While attending School, students may be eligible for employment insurance – a representative from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is available on Orientation Day to assist with applications. It is not possible to work and receive EI payments.

In Level 1, Practical Cookery classes take place from 8:15am to 12:15pm. Theory classes run from 1:30 to 4:45pm. Practical Cookery and Restaurant Labs are held in the evenings from 5:30 to 9:30pm. Classes run from Tuesday to Saturday.

We offer a Personal Tour Program for prospective students from November until the end of February. To find out more please visit our Tours page or contact bfriesen@stratfordchef.com directly.

Our graduates have worked in many of the world’s top restaurants: The Prune (Stratford), Rundles (Stratford), Scaramouche (Toronto), Eigensinn Farms (Singhampton, Ont.), Nota Bene (Toronto), Araxi (Whistler, B.C.) Café Paradiso (Cork, Ireland), Oliveto (Oakland, California), Daniel Boulud (New York City) and others. Many of our graduates have opened their own restaurants or catering companies, and others work as sommeliers, consultants, food stylists, product developers and teachers.

If you are interested in speaking to a graduate, please contact us and we will try to find a graduate in your community.

The School prepares a list of rental accommodations in Stratford who are interested in renting to students. Students must find and arrange their own accommodations.

Our youngest students are 18. Some attend immediately after post-secondary education. Others join us at older ages when they are looking to make a career change.

The School accommodates at most 70 students, with 40 students in Level 1 and 30 students in Level 2.

Apprentices must secure their own placement, but the school is happy to help whenever it can.

The Stratford Chefs School will also provide guidance if a student is interested in what’s known as a stage opportunity. A stage allows a student to gain unpaid work experience under chefs in the kitchens of well-known restaurants. Our students have staged across Canada and in France, New York and California.

The program is divided into two levels. Level 1 runs for 16 weeks, from October through February. After completing Level 1, students are responsible for securing their own apprenticeship job placements from April to October, before returning to complete Level 2, which runs for 16 weeks, October through February. Graduation ceremonies take place in June.

No. A representative from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities will be present at Orientation Day to formalize an apprenticeship contract for each student.

As of April 9, 2013, to have an apprenticeship contract with the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities you must have a membership in good standing with the Ontario College of Trades.

Provincial requirements for registering as an apprentice are as follows:

  • Government issued photo ID
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Proof of High School completion
  • Ontario based address 
  • $60 registration fee paid to the College of Trades

If you are already a registered apprentice, you will receive a new apprenticeship number and any apprenticeship hours you have already accumulated will be transferred.

The apprenticeship ID# will remain the same; MTCU will re-register you to a new sponsor group so that they can oversee your training and apprenticeship. Any skills that have been accumulated in your Training Standard book while under a previous Training Agreement with another sponsor would be valid.

Farm to Table Book

The Stratford Chefs School has trained accomplished chefs for decades, and the stories in this book speak to how the school has also shaped the culinary landscape in Perth County, Ontario. Farm to Table pairs Stratford Chefs School alumni chefs with one of their favourite food producers for a culinary adventure through Perth County.


Click the link to learn more about the book and how to purchase your copy today.

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