Ashburton Chefs Academy

Diploma in Culinary Arts

Train to be a Professional Chef

The Ashburton Chefs Academy has helped launch the careers of hundreds of aspiring chefs, the future stars of the culinary world. The Diploma in Culinary Arts is a full-time, inspiring 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 16 week 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 Diploma in Culinary Arts 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

Gold Standard Culinary Training

The Ashburton Chefs Academy has been awarded CTH Gold Centre status in recognition of our standards of excellence in training.

Course Content

Diploma in Culinary Arts

Training: Full-time
Mon to Fri: 9.30am to 6pm
Duration: 16 weeks
Attendance: 45 hours per week

Certificates & Qualifications

  • Ashburton Diploma in Culinary Arts
  • QCF Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts
  • HABC Level 3 Award in Food Safety

Academy Open Day

Open Evening

Next Open Day is Mon 27th June, 2022 at 7pm

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Course Brochure

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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.


Great cooking comes from the heart! Students that are accepted on the Diploma in Culinary Arts 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.

A Graduate's View

Course Brochure

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Course content

Term 1 Practical Skills

  • Level 3 HABC food hygiene.
  • Knife skills, chopping & cutting at speed.
  • Basic soup preparation, cooking and finishing.
  • Breads and laminated doughs.
  • Stocks, sauces & basic dressings.
  • Pasta-making & cooking.
  • Poultry & Duck butchery.
  • Preparing and cooking shellfish.
  • Fish filleting and preparation.
  • Terrines.
  • Basic pastries and ice creams.
  • Cakes & Biscuits.
  • 4 days Practical Assessments.
  • Individual tutorial session.

Field Trips & Masterclasses

  • 1 Day with Master Butcher
  • Brixham Fish Market
Note: Field trips may change as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

Culinary Theory

  • Poultry & Duck.
  • Lamb.
  • Pork.
  • Beef.
  • Stocks, soups & sauces.
  • Introduction to Seafood.
  • Managing a supply chain.
  • COSSH.
  • Risk Assessment & Planning.

Term 2 Practical Skills

  • Food and Wine Matching.
  • Laminated and enriched doughs.
  • Complex de-boning.
  • Feathered & furred game.
  • Complex butchery skills.
  • Complex offal cookery.
  • Complex canap├ęs and Petit Fours.
  • Complex fish filleting and cooking skills.
  • Complex pastries.
  • Chocolate tempering and moulding.
  • Advanced sauce making techniques.
  • European & Asian cuisines.
  • Molecular cookery.
  • 5 days of themed practical assessment.
  • Individual tutorial session.

Field Trips & Masterclasses

  • Field trip: Game at Devon Clinton Estates
  • Masterclass: Chocolate
  • Masterclass: Making and curing meats.
  • Event: Dining Club week.
  • Masterclass: Foraging and wild food.
  • Masterclass: Advanced gluten free recipes.
  • Event: Graduation evening.
  • Event: Graduation lunch at restaurant.
Note: Field trips & Events may change as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

Culinary Theory

  • Offal.
  • Seasonality of Ingredients.
  • Science of Molecular Cookery.
  • Sugar.
  • Veal & Venison.
  • Shellfish.
  • Pros & Cons of Fish Farming.
  • Assignment planning.


The Diploma in Culinary Arts incorporates the following certificates and qualifications:-

Ashburton Chefs Academy Diploma in Culinary Arts

The Diploma in Culinary Arts 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 at various points throughout the course.

Visit the CTH Website

HABC 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.

Course Dates

Course Dates

The Diploma in Culinary Arts runs continuously for 16 weeks. We run three Diplomas per year.
The course runs from 9.30am to 6pm, Monday to Friday.


2022 Diploma 1

  • Tue 11 Jan to Fri 29 Apr, 2022
  • Full-time - 16 Weeks - Residential Option
  • Apply

2022 Diploma 2

  • Tue 03 May to Fri 19 Aug, 2022
  • Full-time - 16 Weeks - Residential Option
  • Apply

2022 Diploma 3

  • Tue 23 Aug to Fri 09 Dec, 2022
  • Full-time - 16 Weeks - Residential Option
  • Apply


2023 Diploma 1

  • Tue 10 Jan to Fri 28 Apr, 2023
  • Full-time - 16 Weeks - Residential Option
  • Apply

2023 Diploma 2

  • Tue 09 May to Fri 25 Aug, 2023
  • Full-time - 16 Weeks - Residential Option
  • Apply

2023 Diploma 3

  • Tue 29 Aug to Fri 15 Dec, 2023
  • Full-time - 16 Weeks - Residential Option
  • Apply

Student Accommodation

We offer a residential option to all students that need a comfortable, quality and affordable room whilst studying with us, from a weekend class to a 10 month stay on our Advanced Diploma. For shorter courses, our Bed & Breakfast option at Ashburton Court is an ideal home away from home, and for our longer courses our shared student lodges at Finlake are the ideal choice.

Finlake Student Lodges

For Diploma level students our residential package for Chefs Academy Diploma 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, duvets & towels
  • Free Car Parking
  • Free minibus shuttle to and from Academy


Course Duration Price
Certificate in Culinary Arts 26 Nights £910
Diploma in Patisserie 96 Nights £3,360
Diploma in Culinary Arts 110 Nights £3,850
Advanced Diploma 215 Nights £7,525
Advanced Diploma (Sep to Apr) 206 Nights
Less Nights due to Christmas Break

Finlake Deposit: £250
Required to reserve room and acts as damage deposit. Returned at the end of course upon successful checkout.

Note:Finlake Deposit is non-refundable in the case of a cancellation. Please see our terms and conditions for full details. Additionally please read the Rules of Residence.
Note: Smoking is prohibited within the lodges at Finlake and outside of designated smoking zones.


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

Diploma in Culinary Arts (16 weeks)

Training: £16,300
Chef Uniforms: £141
Awarding Body Registration & Exam Fees: £409
Total Course Fee: £16,850

Residential Option

Course Fee (see above): £16,850
110 Nights at Finlake: £3,850
Course with Accommodation: £20,700


  • Culinary Training
  • All Course Notes
  • Daily Lunch
  • Equipment & Ingredients
  • Chef Uniforms x 3
  • Field Trips
  • External Exam Fees & 
    Course Books
ELCAS funding is available to qualifying members of the Armed Services only. Only a proportion of the course fee eligible for funding will be available depending on length of service. For more information please visit ELCAS here.
Total Eligible Not Eligible
Course Fee - claim from MOD: £15,689 £15,689
Highfield Level 3 Award in Food Safety £611 £611
Chef Uniforms: £141 £141
Awarding Body Registration & Exam Fees: £409 £409
Total Course Fee: £16,850 £15,689 £1,161
Total Unfunded Fee: £1,161

Residential Option

Accommodation is not eligible for ELCAS funding.
Unfunded Course Fees (see above): £1,161
110 Nights at Finlake: £3,850
Course with Accommodation: £5,011

Funded Training Includes:

  • Culinary Training: Mon to Fri 9.30am to 6pm.
  • All Course Notes.
  • Duration: 15 weeks 2 days.

Course Deposit

Non-refundable deposit to secure place: £1,000.

Full balance due 8 weeks prior to start of course.

The balance due for course only would be £15,850

Optional Finlake Accommodation

Shared Finlake Accommodation (110 Nights): £3,850

Deposit: £250

Required to reserve room and acts as damage deposit. Returned at end of course.


  • Free use of leisure facilities, gym, pool etc
  • Free mini-bus service to/from Ashburton
Residential Details
Frequently Asked Questions


The minimum age to join this course is 18 years old.

Typically we see age ranges from 18 to 55 years old with a 60% male to 40% female split. There will be a broad range of people from different backgrounds and different life experiences on our courses. We have people that are retraining after a long career in public service or the forces, professionals making a sea-change and planning to open up their dream bistro, people planning to launch an outdoor catering business, or keen amateur cooks that want to develop their skills.

This course is full-time, with intensive practical training. This is one of the reasons why our students can achieve so much during their time with us. Academy students receive 45 hours direct tuition a week, Monday to Friday 9am to 6pm.

Yes, we are accredited by the British Accreditation Council so you can apply for a Student Visitor Visa to study with us. This is a simple online application process for most people. If you are an EU citizen then you do not require any visa and can take any course with us.
Please visit this page for further information for International Students.

We have a maximum of 16 places per diploma course running. Demand is high for this course and we would recommend you contact us several months before the start of the course to secure your place.

The Diploma in Culinary Arts is not directly comparable with a course that you will find at a state catering college, since the Ashburton Chefs Academy is a private culinary school offering a specialist course.

Course sizes are kept small (maximum of 16) to ensure the highest quality training and you will be using quality equipment, the finest ingredients and being taught by the best chef tutors. During the course you will receive 45 hours tuition a week. In addition, all of your exam fees and chef equipment are absorbed into the cost of the course. Given the quality of training on offer we believe the course offers excellent value for money, although we recognise it is a substantial investment for an individual.

When you compare courses be sure to look closely at the number of real training hours you receive per week, the quality of tutors and facilities, and be sure to factor in the cost of living while on your course.

Whilst you do not need any professional cookery experience, you should be able to demonstrate a passion for cookery and so we would expect you to be familiar with common kitchen equipment, and basic cookery concepts, such as frying, grilling, baking etc as well as the ability to follow a recipe. Absolute beginners would be expected to take the Beginners Cookery Week to reach the entry level standard for the Diploma in Culinary Arts

Not at all. This is a common question we get from mature students who are considering retraining in a new career and are concerned that they are going to feel like they are going back to school. Our courses are not like those offered by a traditional catering college - both in the style of training we offer and the environment you will learn in. The broad range of ages and backgrounds of students at the Ashburton Chefs Academy will mean you feel very much at home.

Yes, Travel Insurance cover is essential for this course. A good policy will insure you against issues such as sickness or accident that would prevent you taking or completing the course.

Be aware that insurance does not cover 'change-of-mind' or any scenario that is not specifically detailed in the policy document. Any claims are initiated and pursued by the student.

Please read the policy document to ensure you understand the cover provided and exclusions - such as pre-existing medical conditions.

If you would like further advice about the travel insurance requirement, please contact us.

You should be committed to complete the course prior to enrolling. Demand is high for places on this course and late cancellations can deprive other potential students of a place. We will always aim to be as flexible as possible and work with you to help find the best solution to any challenges you might face.

Please note that if you book your course using our Course Finance option, you have a 14 day cooling off period where you may cancel your finance agreement and course. After this period, or if the course starts before this period is over, you will be bound by our Cancellation Policy which is described below.

Cancellation Policy in a Nutshell

  • To secure your place on the course requires a non-refundable deposit of 10% (see course fees).
  • The balance of payments of course fees are due 8 weeks before the start of the course. (This date is called the Enrolment Threshold)
  • Should you wish to cancel your place before the Enrolment Threshold we will refund all course fees minus the deposit. If you wish to defer your booking to a future course (and we are able to sell your existing booking), we may also agree to transfer your deposit to the future course date.
  • After the Enrolment Threshold you will have paid the remainder of your course fees.
  • If you wish to cancel the course booking for a non-insurable reason after the Enrolment Threshold, such as 'change of circumstance' or 'change of mind', we will attempt to resell your place for you. If we are able to resell your place, you may request a full refund of course fees (minus the deposit) or transfer your fees (and deposit) to a future course date. If, despite best efforts, we are unable to resell your place, you would lose the full cost of your booking.

For full details of our Cancellation Policy please read our Terms and Conditions.

We provide you with your own chef uniform to keep, and all the equipment you will need is provided within the course.

Confidence and self-belief come from mastering the fundamentals of cooking. No qualification can replace years of experience in a commercial kitchen of course, but we will prepare you to be a skilled chef with a good technical ability, excellent presentation skills and the confidence to be able to cope in a pressured and commercial environment, be that a michellin starred restaurant or cooking for a private function.

An Ashburton Chefs Academy Diploma in Culinary Arts is a professional qualification that is highly regarded within the catering industry. Graduates can expect to be considered seriously for entry level chef positions in top restaurants. Your training at the Chefs Academy is aimed at preparing you for a future head chef position, but of course this is dependant on your own ambitions and the opportunities that come your way.

The Academy will be able to support you in your search for employment with references and introduce you to the vacancies offered by partner companies at hotels, restaurants, chalet and yacht crew agencies.

Of our most recent graduates all those that were seeking to enter a professional kitchen were offered jobs at some of the leading restaurants in the UK since their commitment to the industry and their level of skill was highly regarded.

We are blessed with some of Europe's finest food producer's in Devon and Cornwall, and all the food we source is from high quality local, food suppliers. It is our policy to reduce food miles, to source seasonal organic ingredients at every opportunity, and to only use sustainable food stocks. We audit the provenance of all of the produce we use. Your training and your food will benefit substantially from our approach which is in contrast to many other institutions.

There are a small handful of well established Culinary Schools in the UK offering a similar standard of training. Whilst some of the qualifications and aspects of the course may appear the same, the courses are delivered in a way unique to each establishment. Some focus on classical French training for example, whereas our focus is on developing broader skills, passion and thinking relevant to the modern chef, designed to fast-track your career.

For Diploma level courses you can stay in our shared student accommodation at Finlake which offers a quality, affordable environment for our students. We also maintain a list of affordable local bed and breakfast options that will give you a comfortable home from home while training in Ashburton. Please contact us for further details.

If you are ready to take the next step to joining the Chefs Academy, complete our online enrolment form here. We will contact you to arrange an informal phone interview with a senior chef tutor who will discuss the course with you and answer any questions you may have about the course. Once we have established your suitability for the course, you will be offered written acceptance to the Chefs Academy.

This entitles you to enrol on any Diploma in Culinary Arts scheduled within the next 2 years. We will also send you an enrolment pack which you would complete and return back to us. Once you have paid your deposit your place will be reserved on the course date of your choice.

Apply for this course


To express your interest for the Diploma in Culinary Arts simply contact us to speak to a student adviser or fill out the form below.


Our student advisors are here to answer your questions 7 days a week.

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