Associate Degree in Culinary Arts

Next start date

11 September 2023


2 years


Sofia, Bulgaria


2 paid internships in Europe and the USA

Tuition fee

From €2200

Accredited by:


Why choose our Culinary Arts Program

The Culinary Arts degree in brief

Being a chef is not just a job, it is a craft and we pay particular attention to the practical part of the education. During our Culinary Arts program, students learn everything from knife skills and sauce making up to cost control, menu engineering and many more business skills.

From students to qualified professionals

Our Culinary Arts program transforms students into qualified professionals.

You will develop a command of both classic and contemporary culinary methods and techniques, created by HRC in a unique series of applied practical lab classes. You will get prepared to fit in a professional environment and fully understand the various global cuisines that drive today’s industry.

With our degree in Culinary Arts, your career opportunities are endless.

Learn to run your own business

The best part is that we are not just teaching you how to cook but also how to run your own business! With courses on marketing, management, entrepreneurship, accounting and more – this is one of the most comprehensive programs out there today.

The premier culinary academy in Eastern Europe.

HRC Culinary Academy is the premier educational institution in Eastern Europe.

Established in 2008, HRC Academy has trained hundreds of aspiring chefs, from over 40 countries. We are the first school in the European Union accredited by the American Culinary Federation.

Education is entirely in English with a practical approach, applied by world-renowned chefs.

We are proud to offer paid internships at some of the finest hotels and restaurants in Europe and the USA, where our students have the chance to obtain knowledge and skills.

Details about the associate degree in culinary arts program

Program Overview

HRC Culinary Academy offers an integrated 2-year associate’s degree program in a modular design, created by top international chefs and top educators with proven academic track records. Our total immersion hands-on instruction quickly transforms students into qualified professionals.

Get ready to enhance your culinary skills with unique series of applied practical lab classes that will not only provide you with a comprehensive knowledge of both classic and modern cooking techniques but also help you to adapt to the professional environment. By mastering these skills, you will have a competitive edge in the industry and a better understanding of the global cuisines that dominate the current culinary scene.

One of the highlights of the program is the two paid internships in Europe and the USA. After completing the first semester on our campus in Sofia (Bulgaria) you will have the opportunity to go to a high-end culinary establishment in Europe where you will complete a 6-month internship.

Semester 3 is then back on campus, where you will learn about a la carte cuisine at the Academy’s fine dining restaurant Talents.

The final semester 4 is a paid internship in the USA, taking place at a 5* luxury hotel or high-end restaurant. Upon completing the program you will be granted an officially accredited ACF diploma.*

But cooking is not all that it takes to become a great chef! In your study curriculum you will expand your horizon by learning new business and soft skills during classes like Management and Leadership, Cost Control, Food Photography and Styling, Nutrition and Food Safety, Marketing and Hospitality trends! You’ll be also involved in the world of Event Management and Restaurant operations.

*You can see the students achievement data (program outcomes) for all ACFEF accredited programs here.

Entry requirements

  • Minimum age of 18.
  • Diploma for a successfully finished secondary education.
  • Working knowledge of English. (B1 level is a good start).
  • Foodie by heart and a future chef by attitude!
  • Passion for gastronomy and the hospitality industry.

If you would like to get familiar with the Admission process, please click here.

Next starting dates

We have two intakes per year. The next starting dates are as follows:

Intake 2023:

  • September 11

Application deadlines

Applications are open all year round, however, depending on your citizenship and visa status there might be some delay. We advise:

  • Holders of EU/EEA passports to submit their application no later than 15 working days before the start of the program.
  • Non-EU passport holders to submit their application no later than 90 working days* before the start of the course.

*Please note that there are different procedures that apply for one to obtain their VISA. Thus, the period could be longer than 30 days. Therefore, some applications might be prolonged until the next intake.

Affordable tuition fees

Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts for Local (Bulgarian) Students

  • Tuition fee €2200 per semester

Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts for International Students

  • Tuition fee €3400 per semester

Additional fees:

  • One-time equipment fee of €500 (includes a professional knife roll, chef’s gear and kitchen shoes)
  • Non-EU Students* pay an enrollment fee of €1300 (the fee includes assistance for the process, preceding visa application, and students status for 2 years without interruption of the program (possible break between the semesters might incur additional fees).

*Please note that due to Visa requirements the admission process for Non-EU students might be different. Please click here for full information.

*You can find our refund policy here

Admission process

Step 1
Fill in the application form.

Step 2
We will get in touch with you to give you additional information and answer your questions.

Step 3
You need to book an appointment for an online interview. We would like to have a friendly chat to understand your proficiency in English and learn more about why you choose to study at HRC Culinary Academy.
The Interview fee is EUR 50.

HRC teachers

Your Chef-instructors

Henri Donneaux

Henri Donneaux

Chef Donneaux (Belgium) comes straight from the industry where he gained a vast amount of experience. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of Namur, Belgium, where he learned the secrets of the classical French cuisine. With over 24 years of professional experience in Belgium, France and the US, Chef Donneaux had the chance to work with some of the most recognized and distinguished names in the culinary industry: World renowned 3 Michelin star Chef Guy Savoy and Chef Thomas Henkelmann. After receiving the practical and theoretical knowledge to lead a fine dining kitchen, Chef Donneaux has held Executive Chef and General Manager positions in upscale establishments, where he was in charge of teams with up to 50 kitchen staff . Besides his background in classical French cooking, he is also very familiar and experienced with the American trends in cuisine.

Viktorija Baltutyte

Viktorija Baltutyte

Having graduated our culinary academy (HRC Culinary Academy) she has a vast international experience in the hospitality industry since 2013! Victorija has worked in numerous highly regarded kitchens across the globe! So far her journey has brought her back to Sofia where she develops her professional and personal skills at Nikolas0/360, where she is the sous-chef! Together with her team they hold prizes such as "Best Restaurant" in Bulgaria 2017, Best Signature Cuisine 2017, 2018 and multiple other awards. In 2015 she aces the 1st place for the best Pastry chef in a culinary competition organised by the American Culinary Federation! Victorija is passionate about bold flavors and experimenting in the kitchen! One of her main strives is to promote women being chefs as she believes that in a male-dominated field, female chefs find the best way to get ahead is to support one another!

Viktor Svetoslavov

Viktor Svetoslavov

Chef Viktor started his studies at the HRC Academy after years of professional experience, turning his passion for culinary arts into his career path. He trained at the Grand Hotel Huis ter Duin, a luxury hotel with Michelin restaurant in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. Afterwards he spent a year at the Sea Island Resort Golf and Spa in Georgia, USA. His culinary experience also includes positions in Bulgaria and in the Kempinski group in Germany. Chef Viktor is a well-rounded professional with an additional degree in Marketing and Management and has a proven track record in human resources management, and business operation management. Chef’s favorites are Artisan bread making.

Lyuben Koychev

Lyuben Koychev

Chef Lyuben Koychev started his culinary journey at the young age of 14 in his hometown – Gabrovo. After graduating from high school, he joined HRC Culinary Academy and head-started his international culinary career in restaurants around the Netherlands, Belgium, and Croatia. For the past 6 years he was managing the culinary team of MasterChef Bulgaria for 3 years and another 3 years, as Chef Viktor Angelov`s right hand and culinary coordinator of Hell`s Kitchen Bulgaria. He was also a Head Chef of the restaurants Andre by Andre Tokev and Chef`s by Viktor Angelov. He has a passion for exotic spices, flavors, and unique ingredients. Chef Koychev is now an Executive Chef of Talents Restaurant, sharing his knowledge and passion for food with the 3rd semester students of HRC Culinary Academy.

Daniel Nikolov

Daniel Nikolov

HRC alumnus Daniel Nikolov has worked in France and Malta, but most notably - in a luxury hotel chain in the Netherlands and Belgium. Chef Nikolov is now Sous-chef and Head of pastry at Talents restaurant. Since his early teenage years, Daniel Nikolov has worked in restaurants in Sofia, but dreaming big, he decided to explore the culinary world in France and Malta. To become a true professional, he enrolled in HRC Culinary Academy. During his internship in Netherlands and Belgium, Daniel used all his skills and experience to become Executive chef Trung Hoang-Dat’s sous chef at Pillows Boutique hotel chain. Soon, he competed with the most talented European chefs in a tournament organized by 2-Michelin star Chef Ron Blaauw in the Netherlands. Moreover, Daniel’s hard work and contribution helped Pillows Grand Hotel Place Rouppe restaurant get a high Gault Millau score. Today Daniel is a sous chef and head of pastry at Talents restaurant, where he motivates and guides young culinary professionals.

Course Disciplines

The main teaching modules, all taught exclusively in English:

  • Nutrition – taste mechanism, flavours, allergies, nutrients, effects of heat on food;
  • Kitchen Hygiene & Safety – HACCP kitchen hygiene and food safety guidelines;
  • Kitchen Theory – cooking history; costing; knife knowledge; professional kitchen equipment and safety; Mise-en Place; cooking techniques; flavours, spices & herbs; precision knife skills.
  • Kitchen Laboratory Class – French cooking techniques – stocks and sauces, salads, soups and appetizers, meats and poultry, fish, seafood, pastries, desserts and breads
  • Introduction to Hotel and Tourism Industry – hospitality trends, career choices, understanding human resources
  • Team Work & Communication Skills

The main teaching modules, all taught exclusively in English:

  • Nutrition – taste mechanism, flavours, allergies, nutrients, effects of heat on food;
  • Kitchen Hygiene & Safety – HACCP kitchen hygiene and food safety guidelines;
  • Kitchen Theory – cooking history; costing; knife knowledge; professional kitchen equipment and safety; Mise-en Place; cooking techniques; flavours, spices & herbs; precision knife skills.
  • Kitchen Laboratory Class – French cooking techniques – stocks and sauces, salads, soups and appetizers, meats and poultry, fish, seafood, pastries, desserts and breads
  • Introduction to Hotel and Tourism Industry – hospitality trends, career choices, understanding human resources
  • Team Work & Communication Skills
How are we better

Benefits of our Culinary Arts program

Best Value for Money

HRC Academy provides by far the best value for money and is one of the most affordable, high-quality culinary educational programs on the globe.

Industry placements

The Academy provides internships at some of the best restaurants and hotels worldwide. And guess what? Read next.

Paid internships

All of our internships are paid. Our unique US internships provide internship allowances an average of USD 2.800 per month!

The diploma

We are the first culinary school in the European Union that is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Our diploma is also recognized by the Hotelschool Ter Duinen in Belgium and accredited by the World Association of Chefs’ Societies – Worldchefs.


Our brand new 2.500 sq. m. training facility provides state-of-the-art kitchen labs, a 100-seat Demo theatre, a bakery kitchen, a chocolate atelier, a culinary library and everything else you need to get the best learning experience.


The academy offers great scholarships of up to 2.000 EUR as well as options for low-interest study loans.

For a bright future

Endless career opportunities

HRC Culinary Academy graduates are employed as executive or sous chefs at restaurants around the world or opening their own restaurants; they work as pastry chefs or bakers; they teach cooking classes; they write books on cooking or open up their own catering businesses… The possibilities are endless!

Our students share

Success stories

Mila, 22 Y.O.

Velizar, 20 Y.O.

Stelian, 20 Y.O.

Nikola, 31 Y.O.

Aronas, 21 Y.O.

Kristiana and David


Associate degree in culinary arts - FAQ

What can I do with my diploma?

With a solid culinary education and a good understanding of the English language, you will be able to work anywhere in the world as a chef. You will be able to build the career that you have always wanted and you should thank yourself for that! Finishing our program is not an easy job!

Our diploma is officially recognised and accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). For you can see ACF's outcome report here.

After receiving your diploma you can choose for yourself: continue your career at hotels and resorts, fine restaurants or perhaps even a cruise liner sailing the world. Maybe you possess the heart and spirit of a true entrepreneur and would like to start your own business? Give us a shout, we'll gladly give you some tips, advice and evaluate your business model. Currently, the job outlook in the HoReCa industry is very strong worldwide.

Throughout your journey of different experiences, you will develop more skills, gain more knowledge and eventually become an Executive Chef. However, you must be realistic; this does not happen overnight. The HRC Culinary Academy provides you with culinary fundamentals and helps you with personal development; the rest is up to you.

Will I get any assistance from HRC for my future career?

Certainly! HRC’s Career office will assist you with your final industry placement among its extensive network of hotels and restaurants. Often these placements lead to job offers. All of our graduates are supported by the Career Office throughout their career advancement, even long after they have graduated. A full 100% of our graduates have a job secured within a few months of graduation! You can read more about this here!

What should I do after I submit my application?

Job well done! Sit down, relax and give some time to our admission team to get back to you!
After we have received your online application form, a confirmation letter with instructions will be emailed to you. (please, check your Spam inbox to make sure you will not miss it). Read it carefully, open all the links and feel free to contact us first. When so, you could inform us about your high secondary school grades - what percentage of the maximum in your country they are. We will then give you further instructions.  At that stage, we will probably require your registration fee and a copy of your high school diploma, preferably scanned and sent via e-mail.

Can I visit the academy?

Yes, of course, we encourage you to do so! We love meeting people and showing them around! We'll have a cup of coffee or tea and get you acquainted with our facilities, work and we'll have you meet some of the current students. We look forward to meeting you at our school to see us in action. We will explain to you our teaching methods and answer all your questions. Please prior to your visit give us a buzz to set up an appointment, so we can make sure that you are given the required attention. Are you based far away? Then we are happy to welcome you to HRC’s offices in the Netherlands, Atlanta/USA/ or Italy!

Does the academy provide housing?

Starting summer 2020, our very own student campus opened its doors directly in front of the Academy. You have the option of single and double rooms. Facilities include a student lounge, shared kitchens, laundry room and much more exciting cool stuff!!

Students who wish to rent accommodation (room in a flat or a house) can do this individually at a price of approximately 250 – 300 euros per month with bills included. The Academy team will assist by providing the students with contact information of trusted landlords and agencies who provide reasonably priced flats.

How much does it cost? Is there financial aid?

Each program uses a different pricing policy. We'll be happy to explain to you the instalment plan options during your admission process.

Is previous culinary experience necessary before joining?

Love, love, love and great passion for the arts; that's all what it takes, our dearest prospect student! :)

What is the application deadline for the next Culinary Arts admission?

To check when is the next semester start, please click here. You can apply online and the full application process for EU students usually lasts about 2-4 weeks so we advise you to apply as early as possible before the starting date.

Ready to shape your future?