What Is It That Makes You Want To Enter The Culinary Industry?
The culinary world is a diverse one, and there is no one-size-fits-all career option once you graduate and enter the workforce. It doesn’t matter whether you want to bake cupcakes in a local grocery store or become a contender on Top Chef – there are a multitude of options out there.
As long as you have an interest in learning the physical skills involved in cooking, want to know the basic science behind food and nutrition, and are willing to learn from others, you are in a position to take advantage of culinary school.
Of course, having a history in the food world helps, too. Many culinary school students bring some of their real-world experience with them to the first class, having spent years as dishwashers, line cooks, or even as caterers.
Because there are so many types of culinary schools, you can either go to one that teaches skills at the beginning level, or go to one that specializes in a certain technique or type of cooking.
In fact, culinary school can be a great way to further an existing career. Much like going back to school to get an MBA in order to get that next promotion at the bank, going to culinary school can help existing professionals make the leap to management or front-of-house, or even help them open a restaurant of their own.
Dollars & Sense
A focus on the path you want your career to take is an important one. After all, the more you have your future career goals in sight, the more likely you are to get the appropriate training to turn dreams into realities. And while this may seem like counting your chickens before they’re hatched, it’s an important step, especially once you realize that not all culinary jobs are as glamorous as they seem at the outset.
By knowing what you want and what you can realistically expect out of your career, you’re much better poised to make the right decisions. Consider the average pay scales of the top culinary jobs, and notice where you have to fall to make a competitive wage:
|Celebrity Chef||$1.5 million – $18 million|
|Food Service Managers||$27,00 - $70,00|
|Executive Chefs/Head Cooks||$20,00 - $60,000|
|Private Cooks/Personal Chefs||$18,000 - $55,000|
|Sous Chefs||$18,000 - 40,000|
|Line/Cafeteria Cooks||$14,000 - $30,000|
|General Food Prep Workers||$13,000 - $25,000|
In most cases, you need to work at higher-end restaurants or hotels in order to earn at the larger end of the spectrum. In many others, you simply have to put in the time, working your way up to management or head chef.
No matter what path you choose, however, it is important not to let some of these numbers get you down. While no one wants to graduate from school only to make a few dollars above minimum wage, there is job security in this industry rarely seen in any other sector. In fact, the food industry is the second largest employer of individuals in the United States, after the Federal Government.
Getting Started: Why NOT Choose Culinary School
While the numbers accompanying the Celebrity Chef title are enticing, it is a firm rule that no one should enter culinary school with the intent of becoming a television cooking star.
When you enter any career field with the idea that you will reach stardom and a staggering income, it can become a struggle to remember why it is that you fell in love with the field in the first place. In the culinary world, this can be catastrophic, since a love of food is vital to both success and happiness in your career.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.