Maryland has a great heritage of culinary excellence. Maryland’s nickname is “Little America” because it contains every naturally occurring land form that exists in the United States except for a desert.

Maryland’s topography coupled with its hugely diverse ethnic culture allow it to be one of the greatest “melting pots” in the nation, especially when it comes to culinary innovation. Even though it is a smaller state, it is the most densely populated and the wealthiest.

Many Community Colleges in Maryland offer culinary arts degrees such as Baltimore International College, Anne Arundel Community College, and Frederick Community College. There are also dedicated culinary schools such as L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg. Culinary schools in Maryland teach all the required coursework to be successful as a professional chef. Schools teach proper nutrition, food safety, food preparation, food presentation, and how to manage a restaurant.

Jobs are available in all of the major cities of Maryland, including Baltimore, Bethesda, Columbia, Frederick, Rockville, and Silver Spring. It is also interesting to note that the nation’s capital, Washington D.C., though technically not a part of any state, sits primarily on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. The capital’s presence attracts tourists and businessmen from all over the world, giving it the second highest concentration of chef job opportunities in the nation, and the highest average salary. Average salary for a sous chef in Maryland is $40,000 a year. That figure would go up with experience and if working in a more populated region. Most chef positions in Maryland are graced with a salary that is higher than the national average.

Maryland is most famous for its seafood. The Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean lead to a very large fishing industry. The Maryland Blue Crab is the most famous of all Maryland seafood. Oysters and Striped Bass are among the other popular dishes you will find there. With so much variety, it may seem daunting at first, especially if you are planning on diving into culinary arts in a location like Maryland and you’ve never tried your hand at preparing or perhaps even tasting seafood before. There are plenty of opportunities to try out some of Maryland’s best cuisine in annual festivals such as the Annapolis Rotary Crab Feast and the Chesapeake Oyster and Beer Festival.

Keep in mind though, seafood is not all Maryland has to offer. The majority of the state is farmland where apples, cherries, collard and turnip greens, corn, onions, peaches, soybeans, tomatoes, a variety of melons and berries, and other crops are grown. In the western part of Maryland there are dairy farms, while in the East you’ll find the headquarters for the Perdue chicken company. If deserts are more your style, you’ll also find the famous Smith Island Cakes, Maryland’s official state desert. These cakes are made with 8-10 thin layers and are produced on Smith Island, the only island in the Chesapeake Bay that is inhabited.