Where Can I Find A Restaurant Apprenticeship?
While culinary school is a great step toward the cooking job of your dreams, it isn’t the only way to get there—and it often isn’t enough on its own. Culinary schools tend to teach more on the theoretical side of cooking, delving into the whys of cooking chemistry and the techniques of a variety of culinary styles.
However, in the real restaurant setting, things often move much faster and with more of a focus on cookie cutter results. That’s why so many chefs encourage an apprenticeship to get your career started—regardless of your culinary school pedigree.
What is a Restaurant Apprenticeship?
In the culinary world, an apprenticeship and an internship (or externship) are similar. In these types of programs, you are put right in the middle of a kitchen and put to work—usually starting at the bottom and eventually moving your way up to more complicated tasks. This might mean doing prep work for a few weeks or even months before you get anywhere near a sauté pan.
The primary difference between an apprenticeship and an internship, however, is the duration and the terms of employment. As an apprentice, you are an employee and get paid for the work you do. (Most internships are run through a specific culinary school and are required for graduation…and rarely pay.)
You can also expect a much longer training period. Because apprenticeships are often used to replace culinary school, they can last anywhere from a few months to up to three years.
Finding a Culinary Apprenticeship
Because apprenticeships provide both a culinary education and regular pay, they tend to be harder to be accepted to than standard culinary schools. The top ones are available through associations like the American Culinary Foundation (ACF), which have the further advantage of being recognized by major culinary bodies.
Start your search with both national and state culinary associations, since their websites often list exclusive apprenticeship opportunities.
You can also ask area restaurants what types of training opportunities they offer—this kind of networking could lead you to an unadvertised position.
Apply like you would for a job or competitive college program. This might mean including references, volunteer opportunities, letters of recommendation, or a proven history of culinary success.
Find a culinary school that includes this component. If on-the-job training of any kind is what you want out of your education, many culinary schools offer an apprenticeship/internship option.
Once you do have an apprenticeship, be sure and treat it like a job. Show up on time, ask questions, work hard, and use every opportunity to learn and advance your culinary 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.