What Government Culinary Jobs Are Available to a Culinary School Graduate?
As any culinary professional will tell you, working as a chef or cook isn’t always glamorous work—especially while you’re still working your way up the ranks in a restaurant kitchen. And in many cases, the top paying jobs (and the ones with the best hours and the most stability) are the least glamorous of all.
Among these are cooking positions with government organizations and civil service posts. Whether you become a kitchen manager in a prison or plan menus for an elementary school district, there are great job opportunities and chances to gain experience for those willing to walk a little way off the beaten track.
Why Government Jobs?
Government jobs have the benefit of offering stability, great retirement plans, health insurance, and regular working hours. Because they are closely regulated, you’ll always get paid for overtime and receive compensation and raises in keeping with national standards.
If you want this kind of stability but still wish to dabble in the culinary world, here are a few positions to consider:
School Chefs/Cooks: Cafeteria food has a pretty bad reputation these days, but that doesn’t mean the work is easy. In addition to preparing large quantities of food, many qualified school chefs help to develop menus, oversee staff, and meet nutritional requirements—and all on a very tight budget. This is an especially appealing job if you like working with kids.
Chefs/Cooks for Detention Centers and Prisons: Prisoners need to eat, too—and in many cases, their nutritional options are better than what you’ll find in the school setting. As is the case for school cooks, this is a great position for someone who recently graduated with a hospitality or restaurant management degree, since it is a way to get experience working with large-scale food production. However, if you aren’t comfortable working with the prison population, this probably isn’t the job for you.
Hospital Chef/Cook: In many cases, hospitals and city health services are run by government organizations, and they may offer culinary jobs of varying levels. Whether you cook to meet the nutritional needs of patients, or if you take a job as a nutritionist/food educator in a public health setting, you can make a real difference in people’s lives through cuisine.
Although you can certainly build an entire career out of government culinary jobs, these are especially good positions for new graduates hoping to gain experience and pay back some of those culinary student loans.
Oftentimes, having these types of positions on your resume shows that you are not just about making fancy food or knowing how to plate. Instead, you can show that you’re willing to get in the trenches and even take on supervisory or management roles that transfer well into the hospitality industry.
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.