Are There Culinary Opportunities in High School?
Starting a culinary career doesn’t always occur after you graduate from high school. In fact, the culinary arts and high school education are rapidly coming together as a way to prepare students for a strong future.
Learning real, usable skills at this level allows students to take on post-graduate employment that much faster, or to be prepared for culinary college with a few advance skills already in place. This fusion of high school learning and culinary training takes many different forms.
Traditionally, the only way students could learn how to cook was in home economics or even basic cooking classes. While these are great stepping stones, don’t expect to learn usable professional skills. The focus here is on cooking for personal use and as an introduction to measurements and home kitchen technology.
Many schools are taking this idea one step further by incorporating culinary arts programs at a vocational level. Magnet schools and charter schools are the best examples of this, since these educational facilities are designed around building specific skills within the student populace.
In addition to core math and English classes, you will find restaurant management courses, student-run bakeries and restaurants, and even internship opportunities outside of the school. Overall, these programs tend to be faster paced than traditional classes.
Other public schools incorporate culinary arts programs for those students who demonstrate an aptitude and interest in the field. These programs are often partnered by outside nonprofit providers (such as the Careers through Culinary Arts Program).
These programs focus on lower income and under-served high school populations, allowing the students to develop college and career opportunities in the restaurant industry. These programs are found primarily in urban school centers.
Some students might also be able to take advantage of Running Start programs, which allow junior- and senior-level high school students to take courses at a local college. Other opportunities include working in a restaurant after school or even working in the cafeteria at lunchtime.
Getting an early start on a culinary education is a great way to build skills and learn if this field is right for you. If you live in an area where culinary training in high school is available, it is best to learn what you can do to take advantage of it.
However, if you don’t start culinary school until you’re ready for college, you can still look forward to a good future and great job opportunities the more traditional way.
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.