Restaurant Cook

Vocational qualification in Restaurant and Catering Services

Since 1995 Varia has offered an opportunity to study Restaurant and Catering Services in English.

The objective of the study programme is that the student will be able to work as a cook in the hospitality industry. Furthermore, the study programme gives qualifications to work within the industry in several other position as well.

The study programme is designed to give students the necessary skills which are required in the hospitality industry - such as basic skills in cooking, customer service, mathematics, computer studies etc. The study programme contains on-the-job learning (practical training) which enables students to integrate to the Finnish working life.

Application process

Due to a very large amount of applications, the first priority is applicants who have lived in Finland for more than 2 years and who already know some Finnish. Varia students are required to participate into customer service in the Varia College Restaurant very early on in their studies, and the clientele at the restaurant is primarily Finnish speaking. If you want to apply, please visit this page.

Study programme

The Study Programme of a restaurant cook consists of 180 competence points and it takes about 2,5 years to complete it. Studies contain both practical and theoretical studies. An average study load during one week is 30 hours, usually between 8 am and 4 pm. Both autumn and spring semesters follow the normal Finnish school schedule.

In Varia there are several different study programmes but only the education of a restaurant cook is available in English. Currently there are students from 30 countries studying at our multicultural education programme. The average age of the students has been approximately 27 years.

The main aim of the study programme is to give qualifications which enable the holder of the certificate to work as a cook in a restaurant. Although the study language is English, studying Finnish is also an important part of the studies - both theoretically with a Finnish teacher and combined with practical studies in the kitchen, so that after studies students are able to work in Finnish speaking working environment. An important goal is that all our students are employed at graduation.

General studies (such as mathematics, IT, Finnish language, English etc.)

The purpose of the general studies is to provide skills and information which are closely related to a cook's profession. The holder of the certificate is entitled to apply for further studies, usually to the Degree Programme at the Universities of Applied Studies, where these more academic skills are required. Very important part of studies is Finnish, which prepare students for working environment in Finland.

Customer care (such as waiting on tables, hotel service etc.)

Basic skills in customer service are one part of the studies because hospitality industry requires employees to have wide professional skills. For example, in small restaurants and during rush hours cooks are expected to work as customer servants, too. Some students even choose to work on the service side after graduation.

Cooking and food production (food production in restaurant, menu planning and meal entities, nutrition etc.)

During the first year basic cooking skills are studied in the training kitchen, as well as the use machines and utensils, ingredients, hygiene, nutrition etc. On the second and third year food production is mainly studied at the school's training restaurant and/or in real-life banquet functions.

On-the-job learning

Every student will complete on-the-job learning periods during their studies. On-the-job learning means working in an institutional kitchen, restaurant kitchen or in a hotel as an additional member of the staff instead of studying in the school. This enables students to see what the real working life within the hospitality industry is like, and to test their theoretical studies in practise, e.g. knowledge of different ingredients, measuring and recipes, cutting and slicing and other learnt practical skills. The students’ work is done under the guidance and support of their supervisors and they are given an excellent opportunity to learning-by-doing in everyday working life. The duration of the on-the-job-learning period is two-four months per year, and it is in the most cases done without salary.

On-the-job-learning periods are carried out within the hospitality industry primarily in the capital area (Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo) due to the fact that good co-operation has been established between Vantaa Vocational College and different work places. Usually, the alternatives for the workplace depend on the student’s skills (first year, second year or third year student), the student’s personal interest (institutional kitchen, fine dining, ethnic cuisine etc.) and the student’s motivation level and situation in life (ambitious single person, single parent of two etc.). In the end of the on-the-job learning period a thorough evaluation is done on student’s performance in the workplace by the designated supervisor in that particular workplace.

All in all, the on-the-job learning periods are expected with joy and excitement on the students’ behalf, and the experiences gained from that time are valued highly and are in most cases positive ones.

Cost of study

Education is free of charge as well as a daily lunch. At the beginning, students are required to purchase themselves uniforms, one for the kitchen and the other for the services, and professional shoes and a set of knives. All this adds up to approx. 300 €.‍

More information

Study Advisor Heli Toivonen, tel. +358 50 314 5605,

You can study Restaurant Cook program at Hiekkaharju campus, Tennistie 1, 01370 Vantaa.

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