Ashburton Chefs Academy

Professional Culinary Diploma 2018

Train to be a Professional Chef

Since 2011 the Ashburton Chefs Academy has helped launch the careers of hundreds of aspiring chefs, 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 22 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 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: 22 weeks
Attendance: 40 hours per week

Certificates & Qualifications

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

Course Brochure

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.

Real World Experience

Course Brochure

Brochure Download


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

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.

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

2018 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.

2018 Diploma 2

Tue 26 Jun to Fri 23 Nov, 2018
  • Term 1 (6 weeks)
    Tue 26 Jun to Fri 03 Aug, 2018
  • Term 2 (7 weeks)
    Mon 13 Aug to Fri 28 Sep, 2018
  • Term 3 (7 weeks)
    Mon 08 Oct to Fri 23 Nov, 2018
Early Bird Book your place by Fri 18 May, 2018 to save £1000!

2019 Diploma 1

Tue 08 Jan to Fri 07 Jun, 2019
  • Term 1 (6 weeks)
    Tue 08 Jan to Fri 15 Feb, 2019
  • Term 2 (7 weeks)
    Mon 25 Feb to Fri 12 Apr, 2019
  • Term 3 (7 weeks)
    Mon 22 Apr to Fri 07 Jun, 2019

Student Accommodation at the Chefs Academy

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.

Professional Culinary Diploma (22 Weeks)

Training: £16,850
Chef Uniforms: £210
Awarding Body Registration & Exam Fees: £390
Total Course Fee: £17,450
Early Bird Book your place by Fri 18 May, 2018 to save £1000 on Course Fees.

Residential Option

Course Fee (see above): £17,450
151 Nights at Finlake: £5,285
Course with Accommodation: £22,735


  • Culinary Training
  • All Course Notes
  • Daily Lunch
  • Equipment & Ingredients
  • Chef Uniforms x 3
  • Field Trips
  • External Exam Fees & 
    Course Books

Course Deposit

Non-refundable deposit to secure place: £500.

Full balance due 6 weeks prior to start of course.

Optional Finlake Accommodation

Shared Finlake Accommodation (151 Nights): £5,285

Non-refundable Deposit: £500.


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


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

Typcially 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 34 hours direct tuition a week, Monday to Thursday 9.30 to 4.30 and Friday 9.30 to 3.30 in addition to some home study assignments.

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 Professional Culinary Diploma 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 at least 34 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 Foundation cookery course to reach the entry level standard for the Professional Culinary Diploma

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.

No, travel insurance is not included within the course fees. To ensure you are able to recoup your course fees in the event that you are prevented from completing the course due to sickness or bereavment, you should arrange to have a suitable travel insurance policy in place for the duration of your course. Due to the length of the course you may need to take out a policy for each of the 3 terms.

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 6 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 Professional Culinary Diploma 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 joing 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 Professional Culinary Diploma 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 Professional Culinary Diploma simply contact us to speak to a student advisor or fill out the form below.

Fill out my online form.


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

Contact Us

Course Brochure

Brochure Download

Free Trial Cookery Course

Experience Ashburton culinary training for free.

Find out more