A career in the food industry offers several challenging and interesting options
If you enjoy cooking and like working with food and different flavors, perhaps you should consider a career in the culinary arts. This profession requires a combination of creativity and technical skills that can lead to a satisfying hands-on work experience. Salter College offers a Culinary Arts training program at its West Boylston campus.
People have many different reasons to go to culinary arts school. Training in the culinary arts will empower you with the business skills you need to manage a restaurant as well as the training to prepare a variety of cuisine. As part of deciding whether culinary arts school would be a good fit for you, here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get about our training program. We hope this overview will help you evaluate this potential career and the roles that culinary arts professionals play.
What does a culinary arts professional do?
Culinary arts professionals handle, season, and cook ingredients and prepare and arrange meals for clients or customers, according to preferences or dietary needs. They can prepare everything from appetizers through desserts. The food should taste good, appeal visually to customers, and be prepared according to established safety guidelines.
Most of these professionals work under a head chef or food service manager. Some roles will work independently, while others will work together as part of a culinary team. Many positions offer the chance to express creativity in the kinds of dishes they prepare.
What are some of the names for culinary arts jobs?
The term “Culinary arts professional” can refer to several different kinds of cooks:
- A restaurant cook is generally responsible for ordering supplies and setting prices for certain items on a menu.
- An assistant cook in a restaurant might help the head chef to prepare the menu for the day.
- A short-order cook, institutional or cafeteria cook, or fast-food cook probably prepares a limited number of items.
In many cases, a cook’s role is identified by the ingredient they prepare or the type of cooking they do, as for a vegetable cook, fry cook, or grill cook.
How does a culinary arts professional spend the workday?
A cook’s duties will vary based on the work environment as well as the size of the facility and that job’s responsibilities. A cook might spend time preparing meat and vegetables by chopping and fileting, cooking at a grill, boiling or steaming fish or vegetables, arranging plates with food and garnishes, or baking desserts.
It’s likely that a culinary arts professional will be in charge of a particular food station in a kitchen, where they might cook or grill ingredients or prepare finished food to be plated. They might also work with several different ingredients at various food stations.
An important part of this work is making sure that the food is fresh and of high quality. In any work setting, a culinary professional must use proper sanitary procedures for handling and storing the food. This means ensuring that all working areas, equipment, and utensil areas are clean.
How is the role of a personal chef different?
If you work as a personal chef, you will be in charge of preparing and overseeing menus according to the dietary needs and personal tastes of individual clients. Personal chefs usually work for themselves, often for one client full-time, or find clients through an agency.
What are some of the entry-level culinary arts jobs?
A culinary arts degree would prepare you for work as:
- a line cook, who works “on the line” in a kitchen alongside other cooks
- a prep cook, who prepares ingredients for other chefs to use in dishes they are preparing
- a pastry assistant, who helps a pastry chef to make desserts.
With additional experience, over time, it’s possible to earn a position that has added responsibilities. Some of these titles include junior sous-chef (who works under a chef), short-order cook, or pastry chef.
What do chefs do once they have experience?
A head chef plans the menu for the day and then oversees the preparation of food, including supervising the staff that work below them. This requires:
- inspecting food as well as other ingredients from food outlets and distributors, to see if they are fresh and of high quality
- planning menus as well as particular dishes
- measuring, weighing, and combining ingredients as needed
- preparing meat, fish, and vegetables to be cooked on the stove or grill or in the oven
- ensuring that work stations are sanitary and staff are using safe cooking techniques
- overseeing how food is plated, presented, and served
- confirming that food is stored in appropriate containers and at the correct temperatures in climate-controlled coolers and freezers
What technical skills are required?
Cooks work with many pieces of kitchen utility equipment such as grinders, grills, slicers, and blenders. Working at a certain station, or within a particular specialty, may require specific tools.
Are all culinary arts job in restaurants?
Most often, culinary arts professionals work in a kitchen. This is usually in a restaurant, but they also work in the homes of private clients as well as cafeterias, hotels, and fast-food chains. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, more than half of culinary arts professionals work in a restaurant or other eating place.
However, keep in mind that, there are many places that serve food which you might not think of as traditional restaurants. Among these are golf courses, schools and colleges, museums, parks, nursing homes, and retirement communities. Getting culinary arts training could make it possible for you to work in any number of these onsite food-service facilities. In addition, many grocery stores now are looking to hire experienced kitchen staff, given the increasing trend for these stores to feature prepared foods. A job in that capacity would be to provide customers with a variety of safe and convenient food options that are easy to take to eat at home or on the go.
What are the work hours like?
The hours you work as a culinary professional will depend on where you work. Most culinary arts professionals work full-time. If you work at a resort, this can require working only seasonally. A cafeteria usually has a more traditional schedule, and if you work in a school cafeteria, you may have time off during the summers. Some aspects of the industry might require working weekends, holidays, and even early mornings or late into the evening.
The program at Salter College offers you the opportunity to develop your creative culinary skills and prepare to work in this exciting industry. Contact us today to learn more about our program. You could on your way to a new career in a matter of months!
This post is part of the Salter College weekly blog. Contact us today to learn more about our number of different career training programs, or to request more information. Call our West Boylston campus (774-261-1500) to schedule a visit. We look forward to hearing from you!