Careers in culinary arts cover a number of functions responsible for a variety of duties. Unlike line cooks or short order cooks these chefs and serving supervisors are responsible for directing and overseeing the day to day activities of the kitchen and everything related to back of the house.
What to Expect
Creative and highly skilled chefs and head cooks are responsible for ensuring that the kitchen and the kitchen staff operate smoothly and efficiently. They are not only artistically gifted but are excellent leaders.
Food preparation and serving supervisors are responsible for overseeing the staff of the kitchen. In other settings apart from restaurants such as cafeterias and fast food establishments these supervisors make sure that everything is being prepared as per the already set guidelines.
It is important though to understand that careers in culinary arts no matter the position mean that you will be;
• Hiring staff
• Training staff
• Creating schedules
• Maintaining strict standards in sanitation
Other responsibilities and duties will be determined depending on the demands of the restaurant or facility. While the most common place to find careers in culinary arts remain restaurants there are more and more areas where one can find positions as a chef or supervisor. These areas may include:
• Grocery stores
• Residential care facilities
• Nursing home
• Private residence
No matter the location whether a fast food establishment or an upscale restaurant working conditions for chefs and supervisors are going to be similar. The kitchen will be hot and busy with hot stoves and ovens. A large industrial fryer may also be present as well as slicers and other such equipment. Sanitations and safety are always chief concerns in the kitchen to ensure the safety of both the staff and patrons.
Education, Training, and Certification
For the most part careers in culinary arts are gained through on the job training. By entering the work force as a food preparation worker or even a dishwasher you will be able to learn the necessary skills that will help to advance you through the ranks until you eventually receive the title of chef.
Many others choose to seek professional training through the use of culinary academies, vocational schools, and other similar training programs. You can learn the culinary arts through other institutions such as:
• Technical schools
• 2 Year Community Colleges
• Universities with a Hospitality Department
• Armed Forces
Training in the culinary arts is mostly done in the kitchen though there is generally some book work involved. According to the focus of the training program or the needs of the employer chefs will learn a variety of skills from basic food preparation to more advanced criteria.
Other areas of study involve:
• Portion control
• Inventory control
• Food storage procedures
• How to minimize waste
• Menu planning
• How to handle food safely
• Delegation techniques
As mentioned earlier, many chefs and supervisors do receive on the job training instead of any formal instruction. Commonly these chefs will take on apprenticeship roles with chef mentors and will train up to two years.
It is also important for chefs and supervisors as well as all others seeking careers in culinary arts to exhibit certain traits and capabilities. The ability to handle stress and delegate tasks is essential. Also an eye for detail and high standard of hygiene and cleanliness is also important.
Many of these chefs and food supervisors were employed full time by restaurants while others were employed only part time by cafeterias and fast food institutions.
Trained and skilled chefs will experience greater competition at the more upscale establishment then at fast food restaurants. Supervisors will be able to find employment at cafeterias, schools, and other places where the menu is already set.
Careers in culinary arts promises to experience continued growth due to a high turnover rate and continued demand for restaurants and other food establishments. For those seeking employment at restaurants that specialize in a particular type of cuisine such as Italian, French, or Indian should expect stiff competition.
This job market as a whole is expected to see continued growth for the next decade.
The salary and wages for careers in culinary arts depend largely on the position and type of establishments. For the more skilled and formally trained chef and supervisors the ability to take a position with an established high end restaurant will present higher starting salaries.
The editors of McGraw-Hill and the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Big Book of Jobs, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2012-2013 ©2009 by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Material "Adapted"