Thanks for checking out our chef career training courses and culinary education programs guide.
If you are thinking about going for a new or better job in the culinary arts, you can probably find a good local school or career training program to get you on the way to becoming a professional chef.
A professional chef is often in charge of everything that goes on in their kitchen. They are responsible for managing the daily operation, supervising and leading other
cooks and kitchen staff, planning meals and being the decision-maker for a variety of kitchen and restaurant decisions. Chefs may also be responsible for hiring and training the kitchen staff.
The head chef may also be responsible for menu planning and estimating and ordering food and supplies needed in the kitchen. They may also write the work schedules for the other cooks, and generally be involved with almost anything that is necessary to help their establishment run effectively.
Types of Culinary Arts Education
There are several formal chef training education options. They range from a short, concentrated certificate program to a full, four-year bachelor’s degree in culinary arts.
Certificate programs are generally short, concentrated culinary training programs that can give you the basic education you need that may help you find an entry level position in a culinary job. When you successfully complete the courses, you will be given a certificate of completion showing you finished the training. These certificates can often be completed in as little as two to three months.
An associate degree in culinary arts is the most common type of degree in this field. The degrees offered will vary by school, but one of the most common is the Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree in Culinary Arts. The course content will be different from school to school, but there will be training in the areas of food preparation and kitchen management, with some schools offering concentrations in professional catering, baking, pastry making or international cooking.
An associate diploma is a pretty quick way to train for a career in the restaurant business. Depending upon which school you attend, a diploma generally takes about two years to complete. Some schools will have summer, weekend or evening courses and you may be able to graduate even sooner. You may be required to do hands-on training through an internship to complete your degree.
You could also enroll at a college or university and earn a Bachelor of Art in Culinary Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts. Besides culinary classes, you will end up taking a full array of general education courses and other electives in order to earn your degree. One of most common degrees at the undergraduate level is the Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management.
Many of the schools that specialize in culinary training will include an externship at a restaurant where you will practice in a real working situation.
What You Will Learn
Each program strives to prepare you to be ready to offer chef and cooking related services at a restaurant and commercial food establishment. You will receive a solid foundation in basic kitchen skills that every chef needs. You will understand the basics of food preparation, menu planning and kitchen management.
Although it will vary by school, you will most likely study:
fruits and vegetables
sauces, soups and dressings
diet and nutrition
utilizing kitchen resources
food service management
food supplies and inventory management
handy kitchen math
food safety and sanitation
preparing meals for large groups or banquets
supervising and training kitchen assistants
Types of Jobs
There are several different positions in the food industry. Here is a brief summary about some of the most common jobs.
The executive chef is the person who is in charge of the kitchen. They will manage the menu, food supplies, recipes and presentation of the dishes. He or she will manage all aspects of a restaurant’s food service operation, including the kitchen staff.
Along with the head chef, large restaurants will have other chefs that work alongside him or her. The chef de cuisine helps to creates unique dishes and recipes. The sous chef works right under the executive chef and will help supervise and prepare dishes. The chef de partie is a station chef that will work at different spots in the restaurant or kitchen, producing and serving foods. There may also be other line cooks and food preparation cooks.
Private chefs are individuals who typically work by themselves, preparing meals for an individual, family or small group, such as the executive group in a business. Private chefs operate as a one-person kitchen, planning and carrying out all of the preparation responsibilities themselves.
A pastry chef can be very similar to a baker. They are responsible for baking cakes, breads, deserts and other goods. A pastry chef may also be able to specialize further as a confectionary or candy baker.
Catering companies create menus and prepare meals for events such as weddings, parties and conventions. Their clients are often individuals, companies and organizations. A catering manager will often be entirely responsible for arranging the food, furnishings and accessories at a site, including the coordination of the setup and take down of equipment, along with the preparation and serving of the meal and beverages.
A restaurant manager will be involved with operating and managing a restaurant. Their job duties encompass everything that relates to the operation of the restaurant and the building, including hiring staff members, coordinating the work hours of the staff, purchasing equipment, accessories and services (and sometimes food too), developing budgets, and trying to achieve a profitable operation.
There are also other career fields, some of which are being a banquet manager at a hotel or resort, hotel manager, food and beverage controller or manager, wine cellar manager, restaurant hostess or host, wait staff, banquet staff, and maitre’d.
Where You Will Work
Obviously, most culinary positions are found in restaurants, but chefs are also needed at food service and hospitality companies such as hotels and resorts.
Besides restaurants, chefs can find jobs with caterers, hospitals, schools, corporate kitchens, casinos, hotels, resorts, country clubs, cruise lines, personal care facilities, nursing homes, cafeterias or as a private chef to a family or group.
While many chefs work in big cities such as Chicago, good cooks are needed all over the country.
If you like to cook and think that this might be the right career for you, there are plenty of good opportunities available to you.
Your creativity is a big part of who you are and where you're going. To take it, and your future, as far as you want, you need an education that's focused on developing your talents and putting you on the path toward the creative career that stirs your imagination.
- Culinary Arts (AAS)
- Culinary Arts (C)
- Baking & Pastry (C)
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Turn your passion for food into a career at the Culinary Institute of Virginia.
What Are You Waiting For?
- Applied Nutrition
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- Degrees offered include Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, and Master of Business Administration.
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- AAS in Business Administration - Hospitality Management