Culinary Arts

Trade Schools with Culinary Arts Programs

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Culinary artists make high-quality meals for others to enjoy. They apply their talents and training to design menus, develop recipes, and prepare food in new and exciting ways. Many attend culinary arts schools where they learn how to combine flavors and techniques to create unique and tasty dishes.

Providing dining experiences that are both memorable and delicious is part of a what a culinary artist does. These professionals work in many different settings, including restaurants, hospitals, and with catering companies. From choosing the ingredients to deciding on presentation, team members like chefs, cooks, and prep staff perform a variety of tasks in a fast-paced environment.

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What Is Culinary Arts?

Culinary artists like chefs and head cooks are responsible for daily food preparation in restaurants, cafeterias, and other places that serve meals. They order ingredients, plan menus, and help set prices. Workers in this industry also innovate how dishes should be presented and organize special events.

Jobs in the culinary arts can be very busy and intense. Associates typically spend the entire day on their feet in kitchens doing repetitive tasks at high-volume intervals. However, these roles also allow for a lot of creativity. Established professionals come up with original recipes and have the freedom to experiment with various cooking methods.

People interested in this field typically begin their careers within food service. Many gain their experience by working as a line or prep cook before continuing their training. Some prospects choose to attend classes through a trade school or college to gain exposure to more facets of the profession.

At a culinary arts school, hopefuls learn how to safely use knives properly, cooking techniques like sautéing, and operating procedures for various types of equipment. They also study sanitation and food handling practices to ensure safety and quality. Most programs cover basic business skills that are helpful when hiring and supervising other workers or monitoring costs.

What Are Culinary Arts Job Duties?

Team members spend their days preparing dishes for guests. Some culinary artists, like chefs and caterers, oversee the operations of a kitchen or other food-service business. These professionals also schedule employees, maintain food costs, and inspect equipment.

Other common culinary arts duties include:

  • Develop recipes
  • Create menus
  • Food presentation
  • Order ingredients and supplies
  • Hire and train kitchen staff

What Types of Skills Should a Culinary Artist Possess?

Workers in the culinary arts need to have good senses of taste and smell. This ensures that the food they are serving is appealing to others. They also should enjoy experimenting and be willing to take risks when creating new recipes. Being able to ask for and accept feedback is important for success.

Chefs and other culinary artists identify and solve problems that may arise during their shifts. Using logic and negotiation to make quick decisions is important in a busy environment. Knowing how to show other team members how to do things lets them delegate tasks and get more done.

How Do Culinary Artists Maintain Their Workspace?

Local agencies monitor restaurants and catering businesses for proper sanitation and kitchen safety standards. Employees in these roles need to keep their workplace neat to prevent injury and illnesses. It is vital for foods to remain at appropriate temperatures and to quickly clean any messes to inhibit spoilage and contamination.

These craftspeople also use culinary arts tools that can be dangerous if not correctly stored or maintained. Putting away sharp objects like knives when not in use helps avoid accidental injury. Regular cleaning of culinary arts equipment like deep fryers and ovens reduces the risk of fires and improves the taste of prepared items.

Why Do Culinary Artists Need the Ability To Multitask?

Being able to multitask is an important culinary arts skill. Timing is crucial to preserve quality. Workers must complete parts of a meal, with differing cooking times, in order to make sure each portion is finished around the same time to be served fresh. Cooking many items at once requires employees to organize their tasks so things run well.

How Do Culinary Artists Promote Their Work?

In order to showcase their talents, some culinary artists create portfolios to present dishes to clients. However, a good portion of promotion is received by word of mouth. Many chefs and culinary artists offer tastings or host local food critics seeking positive reviews. A good restaurant experience shared by an industry expert helps attracts new customers.

What Are Useful Skills for People in This Field?

  • Time management
  • Service mindset
  • Active listening
  • Communication skills
  • Decision making ability
  • Concentration
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Creativity
  • Understanding measurements
  • Capability to stand for long periods

Are There Special Requirements for Culinary Arts Jobs?

While there are no requirements for breaking into this field, workers should consider formal culinary arts training. There they learn valuable skills that translate to exact on-the-job tasks. Individuals with culinary arts degrees increase their chances of finding jobs in a competitive market or landing higher paying roles.

Hopefuls can pursue a culinary arts education through technical schools or colleges. These institutions offer education ranging from bachelor’s degrees to culinary arts certificate programs. Interested prospects may even find vocational options available during high school.

Whether job seekers attend a four-year program or a culinary arts trade school, a lot of their courses will be hands on in a kitchen environment. Students will take specific culinary arts classes that teach various food preparation techniques and cooking methods.

Other important ways to obtain culinary arts skills are on-the-job or through internships. Some high-end restaurants hire apprentices that work alongside renowned chefs. Other establishments are often willing to train people with little or no experience.

Many local health departments and businesses also expect employees to have current food safety certifications. These regulations vary by state. Prospects should check with employers to see if there are additional culinary arts requirements before applying for work.

What Is the Outlook for
Culinary Arts Jobs?

Demand for those with a culinary arts resume will likely grow faster than average, as more consumers rely on high-quality prepared foods. Restaurants, grocery stores, and catering companies will need qualified individuals to help plan and cook meals.

Although income differs by region and employer, professionals with culinary art skill can expect to earn between $33K and $56K per year. High earners in the field make upwards of $81K. Executive chefs at upscale establishments in larger cities and at resorts tend to have the largest salaries.

Employers may offer culinary arts benefits that include:

  • Medical coverage
  • Dental and vision insurance
  • Paid time off
  • Retirement plans
  • Life insurance
  • Free or reduced cost meals

What Should Workers Expect?

People who have a culinary arts career often put in long and irregular hours. Events like weddings or parties during the holiday season may involve additional time. These employees sometimes must take on other kitchen duties during busy periods to help operations run smoothly.

Often a culinary arts job will require staff members to wear specific uniforms. Many companies provide them, but recruits should still expect to incur some work-related expenses. Closed-toed shoes that have slip resistant soles are one example that every team member needs for safety. Some cooks and chefs also prefer to use certain knives which they must purchase at their own cost.

Where Can Prospects Find Work?

Candidates may find culinary arts work in places such as:

  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores
  • Retirement homes
  • Schools
  • Catering companies

Do Culinary Artists Have Any Unique Opportunities?

Those with culinary arts careers occasionally get to use their skills in exciting ways. Some professionals are able to travel by finding jobs on cruise ships. Others become personal chefs and meet interesting or famous people. Several culinary artists even have their own food related shows on television.

Do Culinary Artists Have Any Other Options?

Those with a background in the culinary field can consider working in other areas of a restaurant. Associates who enjoy interacting with others would make excellent servers. Individuals looking for more responsibility may want a supervisory role. These employees might like being food service managers who handle the daily operations of restaurants.

Places that serve food and beverages need workers who come in before open to prepare for the day ahead. Prep workers perform routine tasks prior to food service. They might clean and chop vegetables, cut meats, and mix dry ingredients.

What Are Alternate Careers for Culinary Artists?

People that have a culinary arts degree might pursue careers as bakers. Laborers in this field work in similar environments but focus on the creation of baked goods like pastries, breads, and cakes. Most bakers are employed in retail shops or boutiques. They could also bake in commercial facilities with products in high demand.

Bakers typically earn a lower salary than other culinary professionals and many positions are part time. Average wages for these employees range from $26K to $39K per year. Jobs should increase in places like grocery stores, restaurants, and specialty boutiques. However, food manufacturers are automating processes and may offer fewer opportunities.

Interview with a Personal Chef

Q&A with a Personal Chef

A Q&A session with a personal chef who owns his own business in California.

Q: What is the most requested service you provide?

A: In-home cooking. I have a long list of clients who live in this area who are in need of a personal chef to come into their homes to cook for them. It may be for a family dinner or a series of healthy menus designed for proper nutrient intake and dieting.


Q: How long have you been a personal chef?

A: Ten Years. I could probably add more to that number because even when I was younger, I had an opportunity to cook for my family and friends. Now that I have been properly trained for over 8 years, I find that I enjoy my job more and more with each service.


Q: Can you tell us a little about your training and school experience?

A: I began cooking when I was very young…probably cooked my first dessert when I was 6 or 7. During high school, I really began to think that cooking was the career path for me. I found every opportunity to cook and, at the same time, whenever I could find a contest or prize for cooking, I would enter an item. After high school, I attended and graduated from the New York French Culinary School. During my time spent at the school, I had intensive training in the manipulation and presentation of flavor. It is because of my love for cooking, and the high-caliber training I received, that I enjoy the successes of today. To become a quality representative of the food service industry, the ability to succeed with your product as well as your knowledge of the same are necessary.


Q: What’s your favorite part about being a personal chef and, in contrast, what is the worst part?

A: My favorite part is being good at what I do. As for the worst part of being a personal chef would have to be the business side of the operation. While I may have learned plenty about my menus, I could have learned more about the business. There were a couple of instances where I felt taken advantage of because I didn’t follow the right protocols for my business plan. By not taking control of every situation and having a program to accomplish all goals, you find that there are people who will take advantage of the inexperienced businessman or woman. I do not like when this happens. I have taken the time now to correct those issues, and am now well prepared to handle the food and the business side of what I love to do.


Q: Tell us about the average day for a personal chef.

A: Taking a full day into account, I wake at 4:30AM to make my first meal appointment. Out of the house by 5:15AM, I will usually visit one of the open markets to get a few accents to the meal I will prepare for the breakfast serving. I always arrive at the right time as it is so important to maintain an exacting schedule. People expect you to be ready when they are, and I maintain that theory to the ‘nth degree. By 7:00AM – or according to the request – I have the first service ready for the clients. Service is complete, I have to complete my cleanup and I leave. Depending on my schedule, or the type of service, I adjust the timing and the requirements for the service. It’s always about the food, and the commitment to the clients I have that keeps me going through a long day. I’ve had days that started and ended 36 hours apart, so for someone without the commitment, being successful may be hard for them.”


Q: If you ever take the next step in business, what would that be?

A: I am happy to say that, if all goes well, I would make my entire career exactly as it is I’ve seen other chefs look to owning their own brand name or restaurant, but I have never had those types of ambitions. The work I do now will be able to support me and my family now, and in the future. I would say I am happy where I am, doing what I do.


Q: Did your previous work history have anything to do with your current business position?

A: If you look at my entire life, I have been doing this type of work. In the early years, I cultivated a love for cooking. Because I made good food, I got the support of my family and friends whenever I made food for them. That support got me through school, and onwards with what I am currently doing now.


Q: As a personal chef, what kind of benefits do you receive? By benefits, I mean insurance, vacation time, etc.

A: Because I am an individual who performs these tasks outside of a big company name, I do not have available those company benefits. But, because I am smart and I want to be able to take care of life’s little problems, I pay for my own insurance and savings programs to be sure that those items are not neglected because of my work. Anyone can go and find quality health care, life insurance, and 401K programs to enroll in. Once I began to have enough business to pay for these items, I enrolled in the programs that fit my needs. As far as vacation, I have the freedom to not schedule a service at any time. Though I haven’t taken a vacation in about 3 years, I still can have that time off if I so desired.


Q: Can you tell me a little about the kind of money you make?

A: Let me just say this. I make over $75,000 a year.


Q: What makes someone good at this profession?

A: The ability to create and execute high-quality menus. They should always maintain a great reputation in the area. I would say a people person too. It takes a lot of ambition to search out and find these types of clients. Being knowledgeable of the market and how to get into those groups to solicit work is always one of the biggest hang-ups for new personal chefs. Besides the marketing and sales, the business side of life takes someone who can handle the things that can bring a small business owner down. Bad business stops most personal chefs’ dreams, not the food they cook.”


Q: Would you recommend this career path to others?

A: I recommend this profession to those folks who have a love for the food first. What matters most to the client is the food, and the high quality of service that comes only when you are able to add a little love into your work. It shows. It matters.