Careers in Culinary Arts
Do you love food, but aren’t sure how to turn that into a career? Here is a whole list of job possibilities in the culinary arts, and information about how to find a culinary arts program to help you achieve your goals.
Students graduating from culinary arts programs are in luck: the U.S. Department of Labor reports that “Job opportunities for chefs, cooks, and food preparation workers are expected to be plentiful because of the continued growth and expansion of food service outlets.” No matter what the economic forecast, people still have to eat.
While jobs in the food industry are expected to see an eleven percent growth between 2006 and 2016 (which translates to about 351,000 new jobs), the best and highest paying culinary arts careers will remain highly competitive, and most employers prefer to hire folks with training. That’s where a career school can make all the difference in achieving your dream job.
While working in or owning a restaurant might be your end goal, those are just two of the many possible careers you could have in the culinary arts. Here are some of the jobs a culinary arts degree from a career school could land you.
Chef or Cook
These are the folks who make all the food in a restaurant or bar. A chef is considered above a cook in the kitchen hierarchy, and the fancier the restaurant, the more chef classifications there are. For example, a garde manger chef prepares cold food, a frutier chef fries food, and an entrementier chef cooks vegetables. If you find out in your training that you love to sauté but hate to broil, it’s possible to specialize as you climb the career ladder.
One of the most common entry-level culinary arts positions is in food preparation. Food preparation means that you will be doing all the chopping and pan fetching. Basically, you would be performing all of the kitchen tasks leading up to actually cooking the food.
A career in culinary arts often means that you will be cooking somewhere outside a restaurant setting. About fifteen percent of culinary workers are employed in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other large institutions.
A kitchen manager does exactly that: manages a kitchen. Career school training in culinary arts means that not only will you learn to cook, but you’ll also learn how to make purchase orders, plan budgets, and run a kitchen. If you discover your organizational skills are top-notch, this might be the career path for you.
Celebrities, executives, and people with money often hire personal chefs to plan menus and prepare food for a private household. Having a personal chef is also a growing trend among people who need to watch their weight or have other specific dietary needs.
A sommelier is the person in a restaurant who specializes in all aspects of wine. Sommeliers are responsible for pairing complementary wine with entrees and training wait staff how to recommend wine to customers. In addition, a sommelier does all of the wine purchasing and storage for a restaurant.
If you’re interested in all aspects of the hospitality industry, you might consider a career as an event coordinator. One of the main responsibilities of an event coordinator is to work with the caterer to develop a menu for an event, whether it is a debutante ball or a book release party.
Most career culinary schools offer programs in baking and pastries. If you dream of working as a baker or a dessert chef in a restaurant, or if you aspire to create the perfect triple berry pie, this might be the career choice for you.
Confectionaries are one of the best kept secrets in the field of culinary arts. Confectionaries make candy, which has proven to be one of the few recession-proof industries according to the Associated Press.
Consultant or Design Specialist
Consultants are hired by new restaurant owners to help develop menus, design the dining room, and come up with kitchen protocols for staff. As a consultant or design specialist, you may also be hired to help renovate failing restaurants or help long-time owners make improvements.
Because there will always be jobs in culinary arts, culinary schools will always need teachers. If you find that you are great at training others or you communicate well in a kitchen environment, you might have a career teaching the next generation of culinary arts workers.
If you’ve ever flipped through a menu or a food magazine and thought, “Wow, that food looks amazing,” that’s thanks to a food stylist. Food stylists are hired (usually by publications) to make food look good on the plate for the photographer.
Large corporate restaurant chains and grocery stores have development kitchens, in which research chefs are responsible for coming up with new products and testing flavor combinations. Magazines also have test kitchens to recreate recipes before publication. If you want to be the person who comes up with the next Subway sub or you’d like to test drive recipes for Oprah, this might be the career for you.
After training, you might decide you’re prepared to strike out on your own as a restaurant owner, bakery owner, or caterer. Knowing all aspects of the culinary industry is crucial for an entrepreneur to be successful, but with the right career school, you might just have all the tools you need to make it as a business owner.
How to Get Started
Choosing a career school for culinary arts training can be intimidating. The good news is, no matter where you live, you can probably find an accredited career school near you. At JustColleges, you can search by location to find a culinary program close to home. Or you can search by program to see all of the exciting places your career goals could take you.
Here is a small list of some of the programs that are available at various career schools across the country:
Art Institute schools are located in many major US cities, from Nashville to Los Angeles, Chicago to Phoenix. The Art Institutes offer programs in culinary arts, culinary management, and hotel and restaurant management. If you aspire to become a kitchen manager or an entrepreneur, the Art Institutes’ commitment to management programs might be the right fit for you.
If you dream of becoming an executive chef, a sommelier, or a food critic on par with Julia Child, you might want to look into a Le Cordon Bleu program. The Le Cordon Bleu method of cooking comes from a famous Paris culinary school and has been around since 1895. Many contemporary methods of food preparation come from this classical French style. The California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, The Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and McIntosh College in Dover, New Hampshire all offer accredited Le Cordon Blue culinary arts programs.
If desserts or candy-making are more your style, you probably want to attend a career school with a baking program. The Pennsylvania Culinary Institute in Pittsburgh offers a patisserie and baking program, as does Scottsdale Culinary Academy and Texas Culinary Academy in Austin.
All of these programs will give you hands on training in classrooms that are also industry-standard kitchens. Your instructors will be chefs and other industry professionals. If you want the kind of culinary experience and training that today’s employers desire, a career school will certainly set you on the right path to success.