the Cutting Edge - Culinary Arts Careers
It is not often that one
can take something he or she loves and build it into a career. However,
that is the case with culinary arts. Those who love to cook can
take this avocation and build it into a vocation,
provided they have the stamina to keep up with the rigorous pace
of this occupation.
article explores the field of Culinary Arts, including career paths
one may take, earnings, and the outlook for this occupation. Let's
begin with a look at what a job in this field is really like.
Those in culinary arts generally work long hours. The work is very
physically demanding -- many hours of standing, heavy lifting, mixing
large vats of food, and rolling out many pounds of dough. The unusual
hours, which include weekends, evenings, and holidays, do not allow
for much of a social life. In spite of these negative aspects of
the field, there is high level of satisfaction reported by those
working in it. The Princeton Review Guide to Your Career
quotes one professional chef: "[this field] is only for the
very crazy. It is hard work, it is gruelling work, it is important
work, and still, I would do nothing else."
The Career Path
The career path for those trained in the culinary arts has become
less clear-cut in recent years. In the past, one moved from preparation
chef to assistant chef to head chef. The large number of training
programs available have caused the field to become more competitive
and only those with exceptional skills become head chef. Specialization
is also important for those who want to move up.
According to The Occupational Outlook
Handbook, "Chefs and cooks are responsible for preparing
meals that are pleasing to the palate and the eye. Chefs are the
most highly skilled and trained of all kitchen workers. Although
the terms chef and cook are still used interchangeably, cooks are
less skilled" (Chefs, Cooks, and Other Kitchen Workers,
The Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1998-1999).
A chef with extensive experience may be promoted
to executive chef, a part of the managerial team running a dining
establishment. Other members of this team include the general manager
and assistant managers. Occasionally, in smaller establishments,
the executive chef serves as the general manager. The executive
chef is responsible for running the kitchen, and his or her duties
include selecting menu items and analyzing the recipes of the dishes
to determine food, labor, overhead costs and to assign prices to
the various dishes.
Earnings vary geographically and by type of establishment. The
Occupational Outlook Handbook reports that median earnings for
restaurant and food service managers were about $460 a week in 1996.
In elegant restaurants executive chefs earn over $38,000, according
to a National Restaurant Association survey (Chefs, Cooks, and
Other Kitchen Workers, The Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau
of Labor Statistics, 1998-1999). Earnings of cooks, chefs, and other
kitchen workers are considerably lower.
"Job openings for chefs, cooks, and other kitchen workers are
expected to be plentiful through the year 2005" (Career
Advisor). Much of this job growth will result from a high rate
of turnover. An increase in restaurant industry sales will contribute
to this growth.
We have provided the following resources to help you begin exploring
this career. They are divided into five areas: occupational information,
education, associations, publications, and job banks.
British Columbia Work Futures: Chefs and Cooks
Career Paths: National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation
The Culinary Arts Profession
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Chefs, Cooks, and Other Kitchen Workers:
Occupational Outlook Handbook: Restaurant and Food Service Managers
Princeton Review Guide to Your Career: Chef
Culinary and Food Science Education
The Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association
Food and Beverage Education, from Diana Fell, About Guide to Votech
Peterson's Culinary Schools
American Culinary Federation
Council on Hotel, Restaurant & Institutional Education
National Restaurant News
Food Service Employment Center
Hospitality Job Listings, from Alison Doyle, About Guide to Job
Searching - U.S.
Hotel, Restaurant, and Travel Job Openings
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