Cheat Sheet

Culinary Careers For Dummies

From Culinary Careers For Dummies by Michele Thomas, Annette Tomei, Tracey Biscontini

Food is entering a revolutionary era. Chefs are becoming superstars, restaurants are hotter than nightclubs, and cooking-related shows are saturating the airwaves. For those that dream of entering the culinary field, there are countless ways to do so. From cooking in a restaurant to writing about food to owning a catering company, the careers in this field are just about limitless.

A Guide to Comparing Culinary School Curriculums

There are many different paths available to enter the world of culinary arts. Attending a culinary school is an excellent way to learn many different culinary skills and to make contacts in the culinary field. Figuring out which degree or certificate program to complete can be difficult. The following table provides information on what basic degree and certificate programs offer culinary students so you can make the right choice for what you want to achieve.

Comparing Culinary School Curriculums
Program Year One Year Two Year Three Year Four
Culinary arts certificate
Cooking Skills Fundamentals
Foodservice Sanitation
Baking Fundamentals
Quantity Food Production
Cooking Stock, Sauces and Soups
Cooking Meat, Fish, and Poultry
Nutrition
Associate’s degree in culinary arts
Food Prep I Cost Control and Menu Planning
Foodservice Sanitation Baking and Pastry
English Composition I International Cuisine
Mathematics Cooking Meat, Fish, and Poultry
Interpersonal Communications Cooking Stock, Sauces and Soups
Garde Manger Wines Studies
Technical Writing Food Prep II
Nutrition Formal Restaurant Cooking
Quantity Food Production Hospitality and Service Management
Cuisines of the Americas Intro to Dining-Room Management
Summer: 18-week externship required
Bachelor’s degree in culinary arts
Food Prep 1 Fundamentals of Baking Principles of Economics Advanced Garde Manger
Foodservice Sanitation Service Operations Management Quantity Food Production Advanced Sauce and Fish
English Composition Introduction to Hospitality Management Cuisines of the Americas Advanced Sauce and Meat
Introduction to Computers Social Science/Humanities Mathematics Culinary Internship
English Composition 1 Nutrition Interpersonal Communications Composition II
Garde Manger Food Prep II Cost Control and Menu Planning Algebra
Culinary Skills Lab Classical Baking and Pastries Wine Studies Catering
Principles of Accounting International Cuisine Human Resources Management Restaurant Management
Food and Beverage Purchasing and& Cost Control Hospitality Law Volume Cooking Professional Development
Introduction to Marketing Food Science Chemistry Lab Formal Restaurant Cooking

The Top Culinary Schools in the United States

The United States is home to some of the top culinary institutions in the world. Training at one of these schools can put you on the road to success to many of the culinary fields you wish to pursue.

The Culinary Institute of America

The CIA’s educational programs include

  • Associate’s degree programs: Culinary arts, baking and pastry arts

  • Bachelor’s degree programs: Culinary arts management, baking and pastry arts management

The International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes

The degree offerings and areas of study at The International Culinary Schools at the Art Institutes can be broken down into the following categories:

  • Certificate programs: Culinary arts, baking and pastry arts

  • Associate’s degree programs: Culinary arts; baking and pastry arts; wine, spirits, and beverage management

  • Bachelor’s degree programs: Culinary arts, culinary management, hospitality leadership management, hospitality food and beverage management

Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America

Following is a breakdown of the areas of study and degree offerings at Le Cordon Bleu Schools North America:

  • Certificate programs: Culinary arts, bakery and pastry arts

  • Associate’s degree: Culinary arts, bakery and pastry arts, hospitality and restaurant management

The French Culinary Institute

The French Culinary Institute, which has campuses in New York and California, offers

  • Diploma programs: Culinary arts and classic pastry arts

  • Specialized training: Options include cake techniques and design, essential techniques for food styling, fundamentals of wine, new directions in school meal planning for culinary professionals, restaurant management; and sous-vide (a method of cooking food at low heat in air-tight containers for a specified length of time)

The Italian Culinary Academy

The Italian Culinary Academy offers the following two ways to learn about cooking Italian cuisine:

  • Italian Culinary Experience: This option involves 10 weeks of training in New York City followed by 9 weeks of training at ALMA, The International School of Italian Cuisine in Parma, Italy. Students also spend time working at a top Italian restaurant. The Italian Culinary Experience is not an accredited program and is intended only for personal enrichment.

  • Essentials of Italian Cooking: If you prefer to remain stateside, this track includes plenty of hands-on experience in a fast-paced learning environment. Students study eight units during weekend classes offered in five-hour blocks on Saturdays and Sundays over a one-month period. Essentials of Italian Cooking is an amateur course. It is not an accredited program and is intended only for personal enrichment.

The French Pastry School

The French Pastry School offers two full-time certificate programs:

  • L’Art de la Pâtisserie: A 24-week professional pastry and baking program

  • L’Art du Gâteau: A 16-week professional cake decorating and baking program

National Center for Hospitality Studies

NCHS offers the following associate's degree programs:

  • Baking & Pastry Arts

  • Culinary Arts

  • Culinary Arts/Baking & Pastry Arts

  • Culinary Arts/Hotel & Restaurant Management

  • Culinary Arts/Professional Catering

  • Hotel & Restaurant Management

  • Professional Catering

  • Event Management & Tourism

  • Beverage Management

NCHS offers the following diploma programs:

  • Professional Baker

  • Travel & Tourism

  • Personal/Private Chef

New England Culinary Institute

Following is a breakdown of the degree offerings and areas of study at NECI:

  • Certificate programs: Professional cooking, professional baking, and professional pastry

  • Associate’s degree programs: Culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, hospitality and restaurant management

  • Bachelor’s degrees: Culinary arts, hospitality and restaurant management

The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College

Students at The Restaurant School can choose from four majors:

  • Associate’s degree programs: Culinary arts, pastry arts, hotel management, restaurant management

  • Bachelor’s degree programs: Culinary arts, pastry arts, hotel management, restaurant management

The Institute of Culinary Education

Students at ICE can receive diplomas in four areas:

  • Culinary arts

  • Pastry and baking arts

  • Culinary management

  • Hospitality management

L’Academie de Cuisine

L’Academie de Cuisine offers programs for both professionals and recreational chefs. The two professional programs are

  • Culinary arts

  • Pastry Arts

Arizona Culinary Institute

Students who complete their studies at ACI will earn a diploma in

  • Baking

  • Culinary arts

  • Restaurant management

San Diego Culinary Institute

Students can earn a

  • Diplome Professionnel du Commis de Cuisine

  • Diplome Professionnel du Commis de Patisserie/Boulangerie

Identifying Cooking Jobs in Restaurants

Restaurants are key places for people interested in making their marks in the culinary field. Following are some of the main cooking professions that are found in restaurants:

  • Executive chef: The executive chef is the kitchen’s head honcho. The job responsibilities include planning menus, ordering and purchasing supplies from vendors, hiring and training new staff, and assigning tasks to the kitchen staff. Executive chefs have significant restaurant experience and often formal schooling as well.

  • Sous chef: The sous chef is the second-in-command in a kitchen. A sous chef assists the executive chef, oversees the kitchen staff, makes purchases for the kitchen, creates feature dishes, and assists in cooking. A sous chef also has many years of restaurant experience and often formal schooling.

  • Specialty chefs: In a large kitchen, each cooking station may have its own chef, or supervisor. Specialty chefs include the fish chef, fry chef, grill chef, pasta chef, pizza chef, pantry chef, sauté chef, and vegetable chef. Specialty chefs usually have restaurant experience and training related to their specialty.

  • Pastry chef: The pastry chef is a type of specialty chef who may work in a restaurant or in an establishment that sells desserts to restaurants. Pastry chefs have schooling related to their specialty and usually have restaurant experience as well.

  • Line cooks: Most restaurants have at least a few line cooks. A line cook may work a particular station under a specialty chef or may work wherever needed at the moment. A line cook is an entry-level position. Line cooks sometimes work their way up the culinary ladder to other positions even if they don’t have formal schooling.

  • Prep cooks: Prep cooks prepare the food that line cooks make. They often come in earlier and make broths and soups and chop vegetables. This position is entry-level, and, similarly to line cooks, prep cooks may work their way up to other positions.

  • Roundsman: A roundsman is also called a swing cook. This person is trained to work at any station in the kitchen and goes wherever needed. A roundsman has many years of experience working every station in the kitchen.

Keying In On Non-Cooking Jobs

You don’t have to be a chef to love food or want to work with food. There are myriad jobs available for those that want to work with food, just not cook it! Check out the following places for non-cooking professions in the culinary field along with a sampling of the job titles available:

  • Publications such as magazines and newspapers

    • Cookbook writer/editor

    • Food critic/reviewer

    • Food photographer

    • Food stylist

    • Recipe writer/editor

  • Television or radio programs

    • Host

    • Producer

    • Director

    • Writer

    • Crew

  • Schools

    • High school instructor

    • College instructor

    • Technical school instructor

  • Specialty food stores or grocery stores

    • Specialty food store manager

    • Grocery store manager

  • Cookware and kitchen equipment stores

    • Cookware store manager

    • Kitchen equipment store manager

  • Restaurant supply distributors/companies

    • Assistant salesperson

    • Sales representative

    • Assistant buyer

    • Regional buyer

    • National buyer

    • District manager

  • Public relations or marketing firms

    • Account executive

    • Advertising manager

    • Advertising sales director

    • Communications specialist

    • Event coordinator

    • Market analyst

    • Market researcher

    • Media buyer

    • Media coordinator

    • Product development manager

    • Public relations director

    • Sales manager

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