A guide for your culinary career plans
Technology is an important part of culinary arts, nearly as vital as the right ingredients. Culinary studies can teach you not only how to use all the right ingredients, but all the right tools and appliances, too.
Culinary Arts: A Creative and Technical Career
Culinary arts is known as the art of cuisine. True as this is, culinary arts is nearly as dependent on technologies as it is on ingredients. Chefs know that kitchen tools and appliances can make or break a meal--and perhaps a career. While perfecting any recipe involves some trial and error, culinary studies can help you learn how to use the latest technologies and freshest ingredients to create mouth-watering dishes.
Your Culinary Arts Studies
Much of your culinary arts education will be technical. Students learn about kitchen tools and appliances, including which work best under different circumstances (for example, working in a small fine dining establishment versus a large family restaurant). Your studies should also include wine technology, service skills, management, and nutrition. And of course you should have plenty of time to work on sauces, cooking techniques, and baking, which is arguably as technical as it is creative.
Transforming Studies Into Careers
You may figure out which culinary path is right for you before you complete your studies; even so, beginning chefs have to start somewhere, and you probably won't land your dream job on your first day out of your education program. The good news is that whatever job you take in the field can earn you valuable experience and contacts. While becoming a head chef at a fine dining restaurant is a wonderful career goal, the following employers regularly hire recent grads who hope to make careers out of cooking:
Take out restaurants, such as pizza shops and Chinese restaurants
School/hospital cafeterias: as health becomes a national concern, cafeterias are being run more by trained chefs than in the past
Family restaurants, including diners and big chains
If your eyes are set on fine dining, beginning as an assistant or line cook can be a good way to get your foot in the door and start building your resume.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2009 there were 791,750 first-line supervisors/managers of food preparation and serving workers as well as 94,300 chefs and head cooks in the U.S. The BLS predicts job openings in the field to be good, largely because of high turn over. Keen competition for head chef jobs is expected, especially in higher paying fine dining establishments. Formal culinary education can help set you apart.
Culinary studies can be pursued at two- or four-year colleges through culinary arts or hospitality programs. Training programs offered through independent cooking schools or professional culinary institutes are also available. While it is possible to find entry-level cooking/prep positions without formal training, for head chefs, executive chefs, and sous chefs, the BLS notes that many years of training, education, and experience are required.
Are you ready to begin studies that can help lead you to your dream culinary career? Find out more about culinary arts education here.
Lynne Olver - Food Timeline - Aug 18, 1999 • Food Timeline
Chefs, Head Cooks, and Food Preparation and Serving Supervisors - Apr 20, 2010 • BLS