The Competition in Culinary Arts is Cookin'
With more families having two incomes and less time to cook (and more money to spend), there's an expected growth in the Culinary Arts careers. But for those who want positions as chefs and head cooks (especially in fine restaurants and hotels), the US Department of Labor expects employer standards to get higher. Without considerable experience or formal training in Culinary School, candidates are less likely to land higher paying jobs.

The pay scales in the food preparation industry vary as much as the job duties. Fast food and short order cooks are a dime a dozen...and that's about what they get paid. But a real career in the Culinary Arts requires at least Cooking Classes in a vocational school. With this kind of training, you can find a job as a chef or line cook earning up to $13.00 per hour, but more likely somewhere around $10.00 per hour. Your duties would involve measuring, mixing, and cooking ingredients according to recipes. You can expect long hours on your feet, heavy lifting, and fast pace working conditions.

Accredited Culinary Schools Make the Wage

The real money in a Culinary Career is as an executive chef or head cook in a fine restaurant or hotel. For this, you'll need more formal training in an accredited Culinary School. Schools that are accredited by the American Culinary Federation offer two to four year degrees. Their training often includes the following:
  • Nutrition
  • Menu planning
  • Portion control
  • Food storage procedures
  • Food service management
  • Food purchasing and inventory methods
  • Accounting software training
  • Banquet service
  • Sanitation and health regulations
With a degree from an accredited Cooking School, you can look for an average hourly wage of $13.50 with typical benefits available. But with experience, the pay scale raises sharply, along with the number of responsibilities. The duties of a graduate from a Culinary School usually involve supervising other cooks and food preparation workers. According to the US Department of Labor the top ten percent of wages for such jobs were more than $25.86 per hour in 2002. The highest paying employers being amusement and recreation facilities, which were only slightly higher than hotel kitchens.

Employment Opportunities for Culinary School Graduates

  • Head Cooks: Head cooks supervise the kitchen staff and coordinate meals. They determine food portions, plan the menus, and control inventory. They sometimes screen job applicants for kitchen staff positions. A position as a head cook is possible without Cooking School training, but unlikely.
  • Executive Chefs: Executive Chefs are usually in charge of more than one kitchen. Training from an accredited Culinary School is necessary for such a position. Usually, a four year degree and lots of experience is necessary.
  • Chef De Cuisine: A chef de cuisine reports directly to the executive chef. They are much like the head cook, but are usually found in higher scaled restaurants and hotels. The executive chef plans and tracks, while the chef de cuisine is a direct supervisor of kitchen staff. This position generally requires at least a two year degree from a Cooking School.
  • Sous Chef: a sous chef, sometimes called a sub chef, is just under the chef de cuisine and runs the kitchen in their absence. This position also requires Culinary School but not as much experience.
  • Private Household Cooks: Cooks for private households make less money, and their duties often involve meal planning and kitchen housekeeping.
  • Business Owners: More chefs are turning to the entrepreneurial life. An experienced chef can start a catering business or a restaurant. Four year Culinary School sometimes offers classes in business management.
A Culinary Career offers fulfillment for anyone passionate about food preparation. And with so many specialties, it's essential to have proper training in an accredited Cooking School. Whether you're a cooking enthusiast looking for a career, or a cook fighting for higher wages, Culinary School is the place to start.
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