Ashburton Chefs Academy

Professional Culinary Diploma

Train to be a Professional Chef

At the Ashburton Chefs Academy our mission is to launch the careers of the future stars of the culinary world. The Professional Culinary Diploma is a prestigious training programme designed to launch your career as a professional chef of the highest calibre, ready to meet the demands of today's employers.

Becoming a top chef takes ambition, dedication, passion and skill. The UK is in the midst of a culinary renaissance and employers are demanding qualified, skilled and creative chefs. Despite this demand there is currently a huge skills shortage within the industry for qualified chefs. We extend our training to develop the full range of skills and qualities needed to be a modern head chef from core cooking skills to management to leadership skills and beyond.

Over the course of this 6 month programme we will:

  • Develop your culinary skills to a professional level.
  • Prepare you for a career as a head chef.
  • Inspire you to become the best cook you can be.

Graduating from the Professional Culinary Diploma sets you out as a committed professional, ahead of the competition, possessing not only excellent cooking skills, but also the managerial skills that employers are crying out for.

Who is this course suitable for?

Typical ambitions of those that take this course include:

  • launching a career as a professional chef;
  • opening a cafe, pub, bistro or restaurant;
  • launching a catering business;
  • personal development, gap year
Course Content

Professional Culinary Diploma

Training: Full-time
Mon to Fri: 9.30am to 5.30pm
Duration: 20 weeks
Attendence: 30 hours per week

Certificates & Qualifications

  • Ashburton Chefs Academy Professional Culinary Diploma
  • QCF Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts
  • CIEH Level 3 Award in Food Safety
  • WSET Level 1 Foundation Certificate in Wines
  • Leadership in the Kitchen

Course Brochure

Brochure Download a printable course brochure. Download

Course Content

Students will receive a comprehensive training programme that will develop the qualities and skills required to become a successful chef. We take a modern approach to chef development working to build the full range of skills and qualities required by today's chefs.

Our 'Total Chef' training delivers a modern approach to chef development and is unique to the Ashburton Chefs Academy focusing on three areas of development which we call Hands, Head, Heart.


A chef is nothing without a mastery of the practical skills to create great food. We will teach you all of the fundamental cookery skills required to enter a professional kitchen with confidence, ready to deal with any challenge.

Around 70 days of your course content will be dedicated to developing your core cooking skills and a complete understanding of the essential cookery concepts and skills.

This will include theory sessions and chef demonstrations, but predominantly you will be working in the kitchen.

Real World Experience - Towards the end of your course, you will also experience the pressure and excitement of cooking for paying customers as you prepare and deliver a 5-course tasting menu to guests at the Ashburton Dining Club.

Skills you will learn

  • Knife Skills
  • Professional Kitchen Skills
  • Hors d'oeuvres, cocktails & canapes
  • Meat, Poultry & Game
  • Fish & Shellfish
  • Yeast Products, Bakery & Pastry
  • Pastries, Desserts & Confectionery
  • Farinaceous Dishes
  • Terrine Dishes
  • Stocks, Sauces & Dressings
  • Soups
  • Vegetables & Salads
  • Presentation Skills
  • Wine & Food Matching
  • Menu Planning
  • Sous Vide
  • and more


Great cooking comes from the heart! Students that are accepted on the Professional Culinary Diploma are committed, ambitious and are passionate about food and cooking. We will focus your passion to enrich and inspire your cooking.

Inspiring Guest Lectures
You will meet some of the most inspirational chefs in the region who have earned a reputation for excellence in their chosen area, along with artisans such as master butchers and fishmongers to give you great depth to your knowledge.
Field Trips & Visits
You will meet some of the food producers behind the ingredients you will be working with and we will help foster an interest and understanding of the importance of the path from land and sea to plate.
Ethics & Issues
And we will explore some of the ethical choices to be made in catering today and some of the wider environmental issues that affect us all.

Course Overview

Real World Experience


The professional Culinary Diploma incorporates the following certificates and qualifications:-

Ashburton Chefs Academy Professional Culinary Diploma

The Professional Culinary Diploma is a record of your training at the highest level, and is well regarded within the industry. Chef graduates have a strong record of success and achievement within the industry.

CTH Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts

The Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts, one of the highest rated practical cookery qualification in the UK. This accredited qualification is regulated by Ofqual and externally accredited by the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality.

The qualification is divided between practical and theoretical sessions but with a strong emphasis on the practical element. The qualification will develop culinary skills by working in a kitchen environment which will be enhanced through demonstrations, appropriate theory sessions and visits. You will be continually assessed throughout the Diploma and receive one-to-one feedback with the chef tutors each term.

Visit the CTH Website

What is the difference between the Level 2 Award and the Level 2 Diploma qualifications?

The Level 2 Award is an entry level qualification whereas the Level 4 Diploma is the equivalent of a Foundation Degree.

QCF Levels

CIEH Level 3 Award in Food Safety

The Level 3 Award in Food Safety is an essential qualification aimed at those working in a supervisory position in the food business who are not only responsible but also accountable for food safety. The 3 day course takes place in the first week of the Diploma with a multiple choice exam required to pass the qualification.

Visit the CIEH Website

Leadership in the Kitchen

The ability to manage, motivate and inspire your team is essential to build excellence into your kitchen, so why aren't these skills taught to chefs? Our unique programme has been developed for the Chefs Academy by experts in leadership training to develop your skills as a leader and mentor within the kitchen.

WSET Level 1 Foundation Certificate in Wines

The WSET Level 1 is a 1 day course offered as part of larger wine training throughout the course. It is a basic course that covers the main grape varieties and food and wine matching.

Visit the WSET Website

2015/16 Course Dates

Course Dates

The Professional Culinary Diploma consists of 3 terms, with a week long break between them. We run two Diplomas per year.
The course runs from 9.30am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday.

2017 Diploma 2

Tue 27 Jun to Fri 24 Nov, 2017 

  • Term 1 (6 weeks)
    Tue 27 Jun to Fri 04 Aug, 2017
  • Term 2 (7 weeks)
    Mon 14 Aug to Fri 29 Sep, 2017
  • Term 3 (7 weeks)
    Mon 09 Oct to Fri 24 Nov, 2017
  • Early Bird: 24 Feb, 2017

2018 Diploma 1

Tue 09 Jan to Fri 08 Jun, 2018
  • Term 1 (6 weeks)
    Tue 09 Jan to Fri 16 Feb, 2017
  • Term 2 (7 weeks)
    Mon 26 Feb to Fri 13 Apr, 2017
  • Term 3 (7 weeks)
    Mon 23 Apr to Fri 08 Jun, 2017
  • Early Bird: 30 June, 2017

Early Bird Offers

Free Knife Set

Register and book your Diploma place before the early bird date and receive a free Robert Welch Chefs Knife Set worth £155.


Student Accommodation

Chefs Academy students come from all over the world and can choose our residential options whilst studying with us, which offers students a comfortable, secure and affordable stay in shared accommodation with fellow students (see below).

We also maintain a list of local rooms and accommodation providers that can offer local accommodation and are happy to help place you in suitable accommodation. Please contact us to discuss your needs.

Finlake Student Accommodation

Our residential package for Chefs Academy students offers a fantastic experience that you won't find anywhere else. Set in 130 acres of magnificent Devon countryside, Finlake is one of the country's most sought after holiday destinations just 15 minutes drive from Ashburton.

Academy students share a luxury, 3-bedroomed woodland lodge which is fitted to the highest standards. Featuring a spacious shared lounge and dining area, tv, fitted kitchen & bathrooms, as well as outdoor deck and bbq areas.

Finlake offers a wealth of activities to help you relax after your training in the kitchen. Start the day with an early morning swim in the heated indoor pool, keep fit in the extensive fitness room, or enjoy one of the many woodland walks. Enjoy a fresh coffee in the park cafe, or unwind with a drink in the bar and restaurant with friends.

Accommodation includes access to all leisure facilities and free minibus transport between Finlake and the Ashburton Cookery School. Finlake is truly an inspirational setting from which to complete your studies at the Chefs Academy.

Student Lodges
Shared Lounge
Fitted Kitchen
Indoor Pool
Fitness Room
Restaurant, Cafe and Bar
Horse Riding & Walks
Fishing Lakes & Cycling Path
Tennis Courts

Site Facilities

  • Indoor heated swimming pool
  • Outdoor heated swimming pool with giant water slide
  • Gym and Tennis courts
  • Health and Leisure club including sauna, steam room
  • Bar and restaurant
  • Fishing lakes
  • Horse riding
  • Walking and nature trails
  • 9 hole golf course
  • Farm shop
  • Launderette

Lodge Facilities

  • TV with selected Freeview channels/DVD
  • Kitchen including microwave and fridge/freezer
  • Washing machine/dryer
  • Bath and/or shower
  • Decking area with patio furniture
  • Double glazed and heated throughout
  • Gas and electricity included
  • Bed linen and duvets
  • Free Car Parking
  • Free minibus shuttle to and from Academy


£35 per person per night (see individual course fees tables).

Includes access to all site facilities (gym, pool etc), free wifi, free minibus transport (Mon to Fri).

The Heart of Devon

Located just 15 minutes drive from the Academy, you will enjoy the peace of Finlakes rural location, while benefiting from the proximity to local town services of Chudleigh. You are also perfectly positioned to take advantage of all that Devon has to offer, with Dartmoor National Park on your doorstep and the East Devon coast just 15 minutes driveaway.

Exeter is just 20 minutes by car which provides plenty in the way of shopping, services and entertainment. And of course, the Cornish border is only 1 hour away.

Devon is one of Europe's finest food regions, and you will be spoilt for choice when it comes to food producers, farmer's markets, fine restaurants and some of the UK's best pubs.

Explore More


Our course fees include everything you need to complete your course, with no additional fees for equipment or uniforms.

2017 Professional Culinary Diploma (20 Weeks)

Course Fee:


  • Training: 20 Weeks (Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm)
  • All Course Notes
  • Equipment
  • Lunch
  • Chef Uniforms x 3
  • All Field Trips
  • External Exam Fees & 
    Course Books for 

Course Deposit

Non-refundable deposit to secure place: 10% (£1,595).

Full balance due 6 weeks prior to start of course.
Note: Payments made by credit card incur a 1.3% bank processing fee. Debit card, cheque or bank transfer incur no fee.

Early Bird Offer

Free Knife SetBook before the specified 'Early Bird' date and receive a FREE Robert Welch Chefs Knife Set worth £155 when you start your course.
Check the early bird dates here.

Optional Finlake Accommodation

Shared Finlake Accommodation (134 Nights): £4,655

Non-refundable Deposit: £500.


  • Free use of leisure facilites, gym, pool
  • Free mini-bus service to/from Ashburton
Residential Details