The Effect Celebrity Chefs Are Having On the Industry
There’s no question that culinary schools are seeing a surge in interest in recent years. More students are applying for and getting into the culinary programs of their choice than ever before, and new schools and facilities are opening every month. However, this increase in students also means an increase in graduates.
While the food service industry continues to grow at a faster-than-national-average rate, the percentage of positions at the top – the Executive Chefs, the restaurant owners, and the celebrity chefs – remain fairly static.
This means that although you might have dreams of your culinary education leading directly to fame and fortune, success in this field may not be as easy as it first appears.
Part of the recent surge in interest in a culinary education is the number of smaller fine-dining venues being celebrated around the country. Large chain restaurants will always be popular, but diners in every city are discovering more diverse palates and looking for ways to eat well on their current budgets. The culprit for this interest? Television.
Celebrity chefs like Rachel Ray, Emeril Lagasse, Anthony Bourdain, and Tom Colicchio have turned fine dining into something that even Middle America can enjoy. Their television shows introduce new ingredients and new cooking techniques to a wide audience of viewers. The result is that more and more people are clamoring for some of that good cooking.
While this is good news for culinary students interested in entering the field, it’s important not to fall into the trap of thinking that a culinary career is as glamorous or as easy as these celebrity chefs make it seem.
Almost all television chefs have entire teams behind them, preparing food, adjusting recipes, and doing the cleanup work; their actual time spent in the kitchen is not always that high.
They may spend hours each day marketing, promoting, getting makeup put on, and meeting with producers. And while these types of activities can make for a good career, it may not be what put you on track to a culinary education in the first place.
There are also considerations of entry-level work to consider, as well. All the TV chefs are at the middle or ends of their careers. They may have spent years working the line, working 10 hour days, or even watching their own first restaurants fail. Most culinary students can expect to lay plenty of groundwork before the real benefits of a culinary career start to hit.
While you should never let these types of obstacles stop you from pursuing the culinary career of your dreams, it’s important to embark on your studies with open eyes. You can achieve success after culinary school. You just have to work hard to get there.
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.