What Working as a Pastry Chef is Like


Most of us have in our minds the image of the quintessential pastry chef – the round, smiling man with rosy cheeks and flour streaked across his apron. However, the number of different career opportunities available for pastry chefs is far more diverse than you might expect, with each position requiring different skills and strengths.  If you think the field might be for you, read on for more information.

Pastry Chef Education

Even talented home bakers should expect to attend culinary school before pursuing work as a pastry chef. Pastry chefs are expected to be familiar with many different dough preparations and cooking styles, so it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to cultivate these varied skills on your own in your home kitchen.  Fortunately, many community colleges offer pastry chef programs that take two years or less, many of which offer night classes to accommodate working students.  If you’re interested in pursuing a career in this field, check with your local community or technical college to see if they offer a pastry chef program.

Entering the Working World

Unlike traditional chefs, who move from culinary school to positions as prep or line cooks, pastry chefs have a number of different options in terms of entry-level positions. Pastry chefs interested in working for the top restaurants in the world will find that many mid- to upscale restaurants hire several pastry chefs to supply the restaurant’s desserts.  Because there are fewer pastry chefs than traditional chefs, talented entry-level graduates may be able to snag these positions or quickly work their way up to them from smaller-scale restaurants.  In addition, pastry chefs may find work in dorm kitchens, hospitals or nursing home facilities, where they’ll produce the desserts served to residents each day.

However, many pastry chefs choose to eschew the competitive restaurant industry to work as self-employed pastry artists, opening their own bakeries and shops. Many pastry chefs who choose to go this route specialize in wedding cake decoration and find the industry to be quite lucrative, as popular wedding cakes can sell for $5,000 or more a piece.  But there are a few pitfalls to this career path as well.  Pastry chefs who own their own bakeries need to be as well versed in business practices as they are at making cakes and cookies, and the multi-tasking necessary to own a small business isn’t for everyone.  Even freelance pastry chefs who don’t operate separate stores will need to work constantly to promote themselves and their work in the crowded wedding and special event niche.

With all these varying responsibilities in mind, other pastry chefs choose to take positions with companies that produce commercial baked goods, such as Keebler or Nestle. These companies often hire pastry chefs to be part of their R&D teams to help develop and test new product ideas.  The working conditions for these positions are quite different from working in a restaurant or in your own business, since you’ll likely work defined hours for a set salary and benefits.  Although some pastry chefs find that they miss seeing the immediate satisfaction their desserts bring to customers while working in commercial bakeries, others find the more relaxed working conditions to be a welcome trade-off.

Pastry Chef School

Let’s face it…there is just something so delightful about a job with a title like “pastry chef”. A pastry chef is someone who makes beautiful, delicious and often exquisite desserts for bakeries and special occasions. This is a career that makes products everyone appreciates and there aren’t many like that around!

Pastry chef schools teach the fine art of creating these delectable sweets. Despite the temptation to wax poetic, a pastry chef is a professional who takes a series of classes that teach how to create cakes, desserts and tortes and also business management and kitchen supervision.

What You Will Learn

You can attend a culinary arts school and obtain an Associates or Bachelor’s Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. Pastry chef schooling will cover:

  • Baking fancy desserts and sweet treats
  • The art of making various doughs, fillings, frostings and glazes
  • Nutrition including creating low fat versions of popular desserts
  • Kitchen management
  • Use of kitchen equipment
  • Health standards and food safety
  • Ordering supplies
  • Business management

The types of desserts you will learn to make include tarts, cream puffs, croissants, quick breads, meringue, mousse, petits fours, marzipan, wedding cakes and many more.

A Sweet Career!

Completing a pastry chef training program prepares you to work as a specialty chef in a restaurant. You can also find employment in a bakery, with a cruise line, or as a chocolatier. Some pastry chefs work as caterers or are part of a team that handles large special events at convention centers. Self-employed pastry chefs sell desserts to bakery shops, restaurants, wedding groups, or operate their own special dessert businesses.

The salaries for those completing pastry chef colleges can vary by quite a bit. Typically a pastry chef will begin a career in a low level position as a trainee and accumulate experience that can lead to a head chef or baker position.

One of the main demand areas for those with pastry chef training is the wedding industry. Pastry chefs that can create beautiful and elaborate wedding cakes are almost always in demand. A pastry chef is part baker and part artist, and the ability to use creative talents is one of the characteristics many find so appealing.

Skills You Need

To earn a pastry chef degree you will need to complete coursework and hands-on training creating actual desserts. As a chef you must be able to stand on your feet for many hours at a time and have finger and hand dexterity. You will be required to regularly lift heavy filled pots and pans. In addition, bakers and pastry chefs must frequently start work very early so that products are ready by breakfast time.

Naturally, a pastry chef must also be able to pay attention to details and have patience. Creating the elaborate decorated desserts is like an art form and takes much control and practice.


Culinary Arts Schools Will Help You Become a Chef or Head Cook


Most entry and low-level positions in the culinary arts don’t even require a high school diploma. In these entry positions, you’ll learn about kitchen safety, how to prepare and handle food, how to keep the kitchen clean, and how to prepare food in a healthy and safe way.  In the fast food and short-order industry, you may advance to a supervisor position after several years.

Again, however, these positions are only entry-level positions, and there’s generally little room for advancement at large restaurants unless you have more training in the culinary arts.

There are several options for further education in the field of culinary arts after high school. First, there are many vocational schools and community colleges that offer courses in cooking, food safety, basic cooking methods, nutrition, sanitation, and food preparation.  These programs may also include some basic business classes and computer classes for those who plan to open their own restaurant some day.  In many of these programs, you can transition from your vocational program to a summer internship at a hotel or restaurant chain.  These internships are a great way to gain experience in the field, which helps both with getting a job and with getting into a higher-level education program.

In these more formal culinary arts schools, you may take classes from a couple of months to a couple of years, depending on the specific program you’re enrolled in. The longer programs award a certification in the culinary arts or – in a few cases – even a full associate or bachelor’s degree.  These programs prepare chefs to work in upscale restaurants or to start their own restaurants.  Students in these programs also have the option to specialize in areas such as desserts or international cuisine.  While enrolled in one of these advanced program, you’ll take classes like advanced cooking, cooking for large groups, and various cooking techniques.

Today, many chefs are seeking training from a professional culinary institute instead of simply entering the profession and gaining skills while on the job. In fact, there are over 200 of these schools accredited by the American Culinary Federation in the US, so you should be able to find a program in your ideal location at a price you can afford.

Many cooks want to become executive chefs or open their own restaurants, and today that requires much more training and education than it did before. No matter what program you decide to enter – be it vocational or professional – you’ll be spending many hours in the kitchen learning recipes and practicing them.  Take as much time as you need to practicing these skills – good cooking technique lays the groundwork for good food.

Succeeding in Culinary Arts School

Most career descriptions for culinary arts programs mention that students should have a love of food preparation. This is certainly the most basic quality to possess, but success in a culinary arts school will require much more than a love of food! In fact, many students will tell you that a culinary arts program requires dedication, concentration and a lot of hard work.

If you watch cooking shows then you have probably seen the ones where a master chef terrorizes students competing for scholarships or other awards. The master chef insults, screams, humiliates and shames the students. It’s not a pretty sight and not a scenario you want to participate in either. Real culinary arts schools are not so brutal, but you do need to start your education with an awareness that you are entering a demanding career that brings great satisfaction to thousands of chefs and culinary managers.

Skills You Must Draw On

A culinary arts school offers educational programs that include a mix of classroom study and hands-on cooking experiences. The degree programs are designed to teach you a lot more than just how to cook dishes. You will learn many other things like managing kitchen staff, menu planning and figuring nutritional content. You may not think of it in these terms, but you will have to do some math – counting calories, measuring, determining nutritional balance and so on.

Here are some more skills you will need to develop and traits you must possess and rely on in order to succeed in a school for culinary arts and even in your career.

  • Ability to follow written and verbal instructions
  • Organizational ability (work area, recipe preparation etc.)
  • Communication skills for conveying instructions
  • Leadership skills for managing and motivating others
  • Creative and artistic instincts for design and presentation
  • Willingness to work long hours
  • Willingness to accept instructions and feedback
  • Ability to stand for long periods of time
  • Keen senses and especially of smell and taste
  • Good health
  • Eagerness to learn
  • Ability to multi-task
  • Ability to carry a heavy work load
  • Able to socialize and work well with people
  • Able bodied and able to do heavy lifting

Looking at this long list it might seem as if you need to be almost perfect when pursuing a culinary education! You don’t have to be perfect, but you do need to be dedicated. A chef must be a combination of hard worker, artist and manager. But it’s exactly this combination that appeals to those who want to work in the hospitality industry.

Skills for School and Work

The skills and abilities you need to succeed in a culinary arts program are the skills you will use throughout your career. High quality culinary arts training will prepare you to handle real world job functions. Concentrating on developing your skills while in school will make the transition from the school classroom to the restaurant kitchen smoother.

There is one more trait you need to possess if you want to be a successful chef or culinary manager. You must have a desire to always learn. Your culinary arts education should not end once you get your degree. Throughout your career, continuing education can help you stay abreast of new kitchen tools and equipment, new cooking techniques and new trends in the kitchen and the industry!

What Culinary School is Like

If you really want to pursue a career as a chef or a cook then you need to attend a culinary school. Going to a culinary school will give you the education you need and it will also give you an advantage in a competitive job market. But what exactly is culinary school like? Well, while no two schools are exactly alike, many of them are run in a very similar fashion. Here is a look at what culinary school is like.

First of all, there are three different types of culinary schools you can attend. There are culinary institutes, cooking schools, and cooking classes. Culinary institutes are certified schools that certify their students as culinary professionals when the students graduate. Culinary institutes usually give the best education you can get from a culinary school. Cooking schools usually specialize in one part of the culinary arts. These schools can be great for training a chef in one specific thing. Cooking classes don’t last very long and usually just teach a small portion of the culinary arts.

There are many different types of certificates and degrees that you can earn from a culinary school. You can take a class and simply earn a certificate or you can get a doctoral degree in the culinary arts. You can also receive an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, and a master’s degree. While you don’t need to decide how far you want to take your education when you first start out, if you think there’s a possibility that you might continue on then you should make your decisions accordingly. You certainly want to make sure that you will receive some type of degree and/or certificate when you are finished with culinary school.

What culinary school is like once you get into your classes varies from school to school. However, you can expect a lot of hands-on classes. You can expect to actually learn from doing. This means many of your classes will revolve around you making different dishes and learning how to perform all the necessary cooking techniques.

In culinary school you should also plan to have a close relationship with other students and the faculty. Therefore, you want to make sure that you choose a school that fits in with your personality and your goals in life. You want your culinary school to give you the education you want and need.

Finally, you should expect that your culinary school provides you with some type of experience. This means you are placed externally for some “real world” cooking. This will be very important to you as you move forward and look to land a job after school.

No two culinary schools are exactly alike. However, most of them are similar. Above you have gotten an introduction for what culinary school is like for the most part. In order to find out the specifics, you really need to do your own research into each and every culinary school you’re considering attending.

How to Choose the Right Culinary Arts Program

If you are interested in becoming a serious chef then you need to attend culinary school. You have to get an education that is right for you and right for what you want to do. Not only do you have to decide to go to culinary school but you also have to decide on the right school for you and the right culinary program for you. Here is how to choose the right culinary arts program for you.

First of all, you have to understand there is a difference between a culinary institute and a cooking school. Cooking schools offer specific and specialized training for future cooks. These programs range in length from 2 months all the way up to 4 years. Culinary institutes offer top-of-the-line training for people who want to become certified culinary professionals. The length of time for these courses range from 2 months to 4 years as well.

When deciding which culinary arts program to enter you have to first consider your own wants and needs. You want to make sure the school is in the right location, costs what you can afford and that it offers the program you want to enter. Once you have a small list of culinary arts programs then you can begin to look closer at each program.

One of the keys for how to choose the right culinary arts program is to visit the school. There is no way you can make a great decision without visiting each and every school. You need to see what everything looks like. You need to get a feel for how the school is run. And you also want to find out some other very important information.

First of all, you want to see some classes as they are being taught. Pay attention to what the students and the faculty are doing during the classes. Take note of how the faculty teaches and runs each class. You will be learning from these faculty members and you want to make sure they are knowledgeable and that they teach in a style that you like.

You also want to take a close look at the curriculum and the course descriptions. You want to make sure the school is accredited, and that they offer courses in the type of cuisine that matches your interests. You also want to make sure that the class sizes are relatively small and that there is a good faculty to student ratio.

Finally, you need to remember that your entire point in attending the culinary arts program is to find a job after schooling. So find out what kind of jobs students are getting after they graduate from the culinary arts program. Also find out what percentage of graduates find jobs within a few months. Make sure graduates are getting jobs just like the one you hope to land when you are done with school.

That’s how to choose the right culinary arts program. You need to focus on your own wants and needs and you also need to focus on how good the school is. The success past graduates have had with landing jobs will predict how successful you will be. And the classes that are taught and the faculty who teach the classes will determine how good of an education you receive.

Culinary Arts Baking School

You can attend a culinary arts school and learn how to become a professional baker. A baking culinary school teaches students the art of baking as a profession and includes instruction on the long history of baking too. The program will also include courses in pastry arts.

Baking programs are offered at culinary institutes, vocational and technical schools, and universities. You can earn a 2-year Associate’s Degree or a 4-year Bachelor’s Degree. The Associate’s Degree concentrates on baking and pastry cooking while a Bachelor’s Degree will be more comprehensive.

The 4-year degree includes business classes and teaches management skills to those who want to pursue a manager’s position or own their own bakery. A Bachelor’s Degree in Baking and Pastry Arts will focus on both baking techniques and production methods. You will enroll in courses that include management, business planning and leadership skills as well as a myriad of cooking and baking classes.

Some bakers and pastry chefs open their own bakeries and establish their careers as business owners. Usually they work for another business for a period of time to get real world experience before starting out on their own. Many people choose to work in restaurants, hotels, and cruise lines, or for event planners and caterers.

Learning the Fine Art of Baking

Say the word “baking” and people always get wonderful comforting images of bread loaves, cakes and pies. Say “pastry” and they picture delicately decorated sweet desserts that melt in your mouth. How do bakers learn to make such delicious treats and tasty breads?

The courses that culinary baking schools include in their programs are classes with titles like the following:

  • Baking Principles and Techniques – bread fermentation, ingredients, baking methods
  • Baking Equipment – handling and use of kitchen baking equipment
  • Baking Ingredients – using a variety of wet and dry ingredients including flours, spices and much more
  • Cake Baking – types of cakes and preparation methods
  • Decorating – decorating cakes, tarts, tortes and other creations
  • Breads, Rolls and Muffins
  • Cookie Baking – baking and decorating
  • Wedding Cakes – designing, baking and decorating
  • Baker’s math – dry and wet measurements
  • Food Safety
  • Operating a Bakery – business aspects of running a bakery

Baking courses are also included in culinary arts programs. You can learn how to start a business, become a head baker, work as a pastry chef or run a catering business.

A Degree Can Boost Your Career From the Start

A degree can boost your career from the start. When you attend a culinary arts school and pursue a degree in baking, you will attend classes and gain hands-on experience in baking labs and externships. Upon graduation you have actual experience plus proof of industry knowledge which greatly improves your chances of employment.

There are many baking schools to choose from. The best culinary school of baking for you will be affordable, accessible, teach classes that have current information and meet industry standards, and offer post graduation employment assistance. A high quality school will be also be accredited by the American Culinary Federation in addition to traditional higher education accreditations.

Baking school expense can vary considerably depending on the school you choose to attend. Internationally recognized institutes can charge as much as $50,000 for a program. But you can find less expensive programs by doing some research. A good place to start is with the American Culinary Federation.

Best Culinary Schools

There is really not a single source for identifying the best culinary schools, but there are several websites that rank cooking and baking schools using pre-established criteria. When you are searching for a culinary arts school, you must establish some criteria too in order to find the school that best fits your budget and lifestyle.

Culinary schools are ranked by several sources. Because there is no “official” listing, it is good to review more than one ranking so you get a good information for decision making. Some of the popular websites that publish rankings include the following:

  • Chef2Chetf
  • EDinformatics
  • The Princeton Review
  • U.S. News and World Report

Another good source of school listings are those schools accredited by the American Culinary Federation Foundation Accrediting Commission or any of the 6 regional accrediting bodies. The 6 regions are represented by:

  • Middle State Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges
  • North Central Association of Colleges and Schools

A third source of schools offering culinary programs providing excellent career preparation is the National Restaurant Association.

Accredited schools meet established high quality standards in course content and instruction. You have some assurance that your education will meet industry standards too, and you will be properly trained to work in a variety of careers.

Defining the Best

There are some schools that appear over and over again on ranking lists. These are the best culinary art schools according to multiple sources. They include:

  • The Culinary Institute of America
  • Le Cordon Bleu
  • Institute of Culinary Education
  • The School of Culinary Arts – Kendall College
  • Pennsylvania Culinary Institute
  • L’Academie de Cuisine
  • The Art Institute
  • Johnson and Wales University

This is not a complete list of the best culinary art schools, and there are many other excellent programs. The criteria used to rank schools include:

  • Depth and breadth of course programming
  • Accreditation
  • Acceptance rate
  • Graduation rates
  • Class Size
  • Quality of instructional equipment
  • Industry recognition
  • Number and types of degrees offered
  • Faculty expertise and professionalism

As you can see there are many different factors considered when determining the quality of the culinary arts programs. But it is not just the schools quality that should be considered when choosing a program. You should also consider your personal needs to pick the best culinary school.

Does the School Fit Your Goals?

Before settling on a program, you will have to assess your personal needs and then balance them against the school factors. For example, if you need to attend a school within driving distance of home you will have to limit your choices right up front based on location.

You also want to make sure the programs offered fit your career goals. If you want to be a bakery chef then you need to attend a school that specifically offers a degree in baking and pastry arts. If you want to earn a Bachelor’s Degree than you would not consider schools that only offer Associate Degrees.

Choosing a culinary arts program is a big decision that requires a methodical approach. There are hundreds of excellent schools to consider so you want to spend time narrowing the list down to those that best meet your career goals and your lifestyle.

How to Pay for a Culinary Arts Degree

You have decided you want to pursue a Culinary Arts degree and now you have to find a way to pay for it. That is not nearly as difficult as it may seem because many schools offer financial packages made up of federal and state grants, loans and scholarships.  You live in a day and age where the benefits of education are well understood and schools work diligently to help students find ways to pay for their school expenses.

How Much Does it Cost?

What does a Culinary Arts Degree program cost? The answer depends on where you attend school. The well known and industry recognized Culinary Institute of America website indicates it charges approximately $13,000 per semester for 8 semesters for tuition, supplies, board, and general fees for the 2010-2011 school year. There are university programs and other institutes that charge much less though and especially if you are an in-state student paying in-state tuition rates.

Of course you want to attend the best school you can afford. Though it may seem expensive to get a degree by completing one of the culinary arts programs, you are sure to recoup your money many times over as you enjoy a career that offers tremendous and varied opportunities. The degree will give you the knowledge needed to succeed in the hospitality and recreational industries.

Financial Aid is Available

If you need financial aid, then it’s important to choose a school that has been designated a Title IV facility. That means the school has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education as eligible for participation in federal financial aid programs. The federal government offers:

  • Pell grants which you don’t have to pay back
  • Stafford Loans
  • PLUS Loans
  • Perkins Loans
  • FFEL Loans

Many states offer grants and loans also to encourage students to pursue culinary arts training programs at institutes, universities, colleges and vocational schools. There are varying requirements for the federal and state grants and loans but each school will have a financial aid office to guide you through the application process.

The process for applying for federal assistance begins with completion of the Free Application for Student Aid package (FASA). This application will be used to determine your eligibility for aid and how much you quality for. If you qualify, your aid package could be a mix of grants, loans and even work-study.

Another option for paying for a culinary arts program is to apply for scholarships. The financial aid office will have a list of private and foundation scholarships that fund culinary arts students. You can also search for scholarships on your own. If you are a graduating high school senior your high school career counselor may also have scholarship information you can access.

Online Options

If you decide to take advantage of one of the schools offering a culinary arts degree online, you expenses will be significantly lower. Online schools generally charge less tuition, lower student fees, and there is no room and board expenses. The online programs are designed for students who want to complete classes through distance learning.

You will find most culinary chef schools quite helpful when you are searching for a way to pay for your education. When you first check out the cost of going to culinary arts schools, don’t be discouraged. The variety of aid that is available today means most people can pursue their dream of being a chef or culinary arts manager.


Earn Your Degree in Culinary Arts


Bachelors Degree in Culinary Arts

A Bachelor Degree in Culinary Arts is your passport into a management career in the hospitality industry. People generally take two paths to completion of the higher education program. Some students enter the higher education facility without any previous culinary arts training. The second type of student has a culinary arts certificate or Associate’s Degree and has decided to expand career opportunities by completing a 4-year program.

The 4-year culinary arts programs include much more than culinary arts cooking classes. You will take classes in finance, management and budgeting. This degree will prepare you for management positions working for a business or for self-employment as an entrepreneur. Many popular restaurants, bakeries, cafés and catering businesses have been started by people who earned their Bachelor in Culinary Arts.

Types of Classes

Chefs and food service managers oversea the preparation of food in restaurants, hotels, cruise lines and convention centers. They work in small and large establishments and may supervise various kitchen and hospitality staff including food preparers, cooks and even servers in fine dining restaurants or large events where food presentation is important. They also deal with budgets, food purchases, menu preparation, health and sanitation standards and much more.

The standard degree name is Bachelors Degree in Culinary Arts, but some schools use other names for programs that will have a culinary arts core group of classes in addition to management classes. For example, you might earn a Bachelors Degree in Culinary Management, a Bachelors Degree in Restaurant Management, Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts, Bachelors Degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management, or a Bachelor Degree in Hospitality Management.

Classes will cover a range of topics including accounting and budgeting, pastry, wine studies, baking, business planning, marketing, inventory control, budgeting, international cuisine, beverage management, food safety, management, nutrition, pastry techniques, restaurant and health laws, menu planning, customer service, hospitality and service management, and the principles of designs.

To find schools offering a Bachelor Degree Culinary program, you can consider culinary institutes, universities and colleges.

Work Your Way to Higher Salaries

As you would expect, there is a wide range of salaries based on the type of job you hold and your experience. You must work your way up because the only real way to become a successful chef is through practice.

Earnings will be highest in the finer hotels and restaurants. Chefs are also paid more in large metropolitan areas and resort areas according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Developing a successful career after earning your Bachelors Degree Culinary Arts requires that you be:

  • Willing to work your way up through increasingly responsible positions
  • Willing to work with other people in a professional manner
  • Willing to work weekends, evenings and sometimes long hours
  • Willing to learn new techniques, skills and strategies
  • A Culinary Arts Bachelor Degree can give you an edge over those earning culinary arts vocational certificates or an Associate’s Degree.

Why Earn a Masters of Culinary Arts?

Why should you earn a Masters of Culinary Arts? After all, your Bachelors Degree in Culinary Arts gave you the educational background you need to succeed because it included both cooking skills and business skills classes. Right?

Like any career, the more education you have the more attractive you will be to employers. A graduate degree takes your education to the next level and expands your knowledge base. Here are a few of the advantages a Masters Degree offers anyone working on their career in the culinary arts and hospitality industries:

  • Sets you apart from the others who did not pursue graduate education as higher level jobs come open
  • Includes more general management classes designed to prepare you for running a successful business whether for an employer or yourself
  • Gives you an edge when it’s time for a promotion or a pay raise
  • Enables you to be more competitive in what is often a global employment market in the hospitality industries

Learning New Management Skills

A Masters Degree in Culinary Arts focuses less on learning specific cooking and presentational skills and more on learning business based management principles and theories. You will have learned specific culinary skills in your undergraduate program, and the graduate program instead expands on management and business related topics. The following are some of the types of advanced topics that are included in graduate programs”

  • Budgeting and controlling costs for large events
  • Managing a diverse staff of hospitality workers
  • Food science and studies
  • Nutrition management in an institutional setting
  • International hospitality
  • Marketing
  • Business planning

A Culinary Arts Masters Degree can make you eligible for a higher culinary arts salary in both the private and government sectors.  The recreation industries include the higher paying jobs like banquet and event managers for convention centers and food planners for cruise lines.

Prove You Are Serious About Your Career!

A Masters Degree shows you are willing to put in the time and effort it takes to excel in your career. It can help you develop the expertise needed to move into the better paying jobs. A Masters Degree can also give you entry into the culinary arts educational field if you want to teach.

You can even combine your Masters Degree with additional certifications such as Certified Sous Chef or Certified Pastry Chef. The American Culinary Federation offers certification programs and accredits culinary arts programs.

A Masters Degree in the field of culinary arts is a fairly new creation. In the past the primary degrees offered were Associate and Bachelor’s Degrees so the addition of the Masters Degree is in recognition of the increasing need for business trained leaders in the industry.

What is a Job as a Caterer Like?


If you love to cook and you’re good at it then becoming a caterer just might be for you. But before you decide to make catering your job, you need to consider this: What is a job as a caterer like? What types of things will you have to do and what will your life be like? Well, let’s take a look at what it would be like to be a caterer.

The main jobs of a caterer are obviously to cook food and then transport it to where some type of event is taking place. But these aren’t always the only responsibilities a caterer might have to do. Often a job as a caterer also involves providing other event planning services. So, let’s look at what a job as a caterer is often like.

The main job for a caterer will always be to cook delicious food and to get the food to the place where an event is taking place. Not only should the food be delicious but it should also be creative and fit in with the event. The type of food should coincide with the type of event. The caterer should be able to prepare a wide variety of foods so that the caterer can provide food for any type of event.

Once the food is prepared then the caterer has to get the food to the event. Usually vans are used to do this. So the caterer has to have at least one van. The van should be large enough to transport large amounts of food and the van should look decent since no one really wants to see their food delivered in a vehicle that isn’t attractive to the eyes.

When looking at what a job as a caterer is like right now, it has to be mentioned that many caterers have expanded their services to pretty much be full service event planners. This means often a caterer also plans the actual event and does things such as sending out invitations, decorating the place where the event will be held, and staffs the event. When a caterer doesn’t plan every part of an event, the caterer will work closely with the event planner and other service providers in order to ensure the event is a success.

Not only does a caterer have to make sure every event is a success, but a caterer has to make sure there are actually events to make food for. This means the caterer has to market his or her business and actively seek new jobs. Otherwise, there won’t be any events to make food for and there won’t be any jobs as a caterer.

At its most basic level, a caterer needs to prepare food for an event and also needs to transport food to the event. Some caterers have also expanded their roles to planning entire events and working closely with other event planners in order to ensure a successful event. Caterers also have to make sure they market themselves so that they get jobs. So, to answer the question of what a job as a caterer is like: The job of a caterer is to be a great and creative cook first, and then to also be able to plan and promote an event as well as their own catering business.



Career in the Culinary Arts


Working in the field of Culinary Arts can be a rewarding and satisfying career especially if you like receiving instant gratification. That’s because you’ll often know how well you are doing as a chef immediately after preparing the dish.

Chefs and cooks usually follow a recipe to prepare and cook all types of foods. They use standard kitchen equipment found in restaurants and other food service establishments. Working as a chef can be a fun career if you’re comfortable working in the kitchen and enjoy cooking.

Culinary Arts Education and Training

Those planning to pursue a career in the Culinary arts often attend a formal cooking school. These individuals become chefs in advanced positions and may need to become certified through the American Culinary Federation. However, there are many opportunities for cooks who have not met the typical culinary career requirements. On-the-job training is often provided for those working in fast-food and for food preparation workers.

Duties of a Chef

Chefs and head cooks spend their time coordinating the work of the other kitchen staff. They often act as executive managers. Others spend their time creating dishes and preparing meals. Short-order cooks work to prepare the food by measuring, cooking, and mixing ingredients. Food preparation workers perform routine tasks supervised by chefs and cooks. They get the ingredients ready for cooking by measuring, stirring, and slicing.

Chef Work Environment

Individuals pursuing a Culinary Arts Career can expect to work in a kitchen setting, spending most of their time standing and bending. Most chef’s and head cooks work in restaurants. Short order cooks and those at lower paying positions work in fast-food restaurants and other food service establishments like hospitals and cafeterias.

Culinary Arts Career Information

Do you love cooking? If so, perhaps one of the many culinary arts careers are something to consider.  However, the term “culinary arts” means more than just cooking – it can involve creativity, spatial design, and management skills as well.

And while working in the culinary arts may involve cooking at any food establishment, the term “culinary arts” typically refers to workers in higher-end restaurants. Workers in the culinary arts are usually divided into three categories – chef, cook, and food preparers.

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to become a chef, then keep reading to find out if it’s the right career for you.

Chefs may work in a variety of culinary areas, including preparing appetizers and soups, making side dishes and entrees, and preparing desserts. In fact, chefs may receive extra training in any of these areas if they choose to specialize.

If you love cooking, consider pursuing a career in culinary arts.

Chefs may also cook entire meals or oversee a small staff of cooks, and they often get the chance to create their own special recipes. Some chefs may even choose to open their own restaurants.  Overall, chefs have more administrative and managerial duties than cooks and food preparers.

Cooks have many of the same duties as chefs do, but they generally work under a chef. In small restaurants, a cook may perform many different duties; while in large eating establishments, a cook is usually assigned a specific section of the menu – such as salads, side dishes, or desserts.  Head cooks often perform the same roles as chefs or serve as deputy or sous chefs.

Food preparers may not actually cook anything. Instead, they’re in charge of peeling vegetables, cutting food into portions, cleaning work areas and ovens, fetching various kitchen tools, and other duties as directed by the chef or head cook.  The tasks they perform are often repetitive and may seem like basic grunt work to many.  However, their duties are very important, especially in large, busy restaurants where everyone in the kitchen is moving at a fast pace and cooks need their ingredients measured accurately and prepared for cooking.

Interesting Facts About Culinary Arts

In large restaurants, the hierarchy of chefs and cooks is a little more varied. Cooks may be fry cooks, vegetable cooks, or other specialized cooks, and each cook may have his or her own work station with a stove, oven, and set of tools.  Each chef may also have a dedicated food preparer or two to assist him or her while cooking.

Large restaurants also typically utilize head cooks and executive chefs. These individuals are in charge of the kitchen – meaning that they direct the other cooks and oversee the entire operation.  Executive chefs are generally given more administrative tasks – especially if they happen to be the owner of the restaurant as well.  In addition to cooking, they may decide what to put on the menu, order ingredients and food, determine the portion size, and much more.

One of the major downsides of working in a kitchen is the heat. After all, the expression, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen,” had to come from somewhere.  Many modern restaurants are designed with this in mind and have better ventilation, but some older kitchens may not be as well equipped.  Cooking is a very fast-paced job, and you’ll find yourself under constant pressure to have meals ready as quickly as possible, while still making sure that they taste good.  However, if you’re able to set these minor inconveniences aside and let your love of good food shine through, you’re sure to succeed in the culinary arts.

Opportunities in the Field of Culinary Arts

Culinary arts offers ever expanding opportunities for exciting careers ranging from chef to sommelier. Not only are there a variety of careers to choose among, you can work in a number of venues including restaurants, cruise ships, and hotels. With an Associate’s Degree or special training in culinary arts, you can even move between the culinary industry and the hospitality industry domestically or globally.

Creative Cooking Careers!

People who choose to enter culinary arts studies often do so because they enjoy working with food and beverages while using their creativity. Careers in this field give you a chance to express your passion for dishing up great recipes while serving others which is what the hospitality industry is all about. You can pursue a career as a:

  • Restaurant chef
  • Bakery or Patisserie chef
  • Convention center food coordinator
  • Sport arenas food and beverage director
  • Café chef
  • Catering director
  • Instructor in culinary arts
  • Sommelier
  • Fine dining chef
  • Cruise line chef
  • Corporate event coordinator
  • Food arts director
  • Country club chef

This is just a sample of the types of jobs you can qualify for once you complete your studies in culinary arts. You will notice that many of the careers involve much more than just cooking in the kitchen! You can assume positions as a chef, department manager, events coordinator and entertainment director also as your career progresses. Chefs usually oversea the preparation of food, supervise kitchen staff, manage food and kitchen budgets, and coordinate with other facility managers.

A Great Career Starts with Education!

There are several educational paths to choose from when you wish to begin your studies. Some students choose to attend a vocational certificate program at a culinary school that takes approximately a year to finish. There are programs at prestigious culinary institutes, or you can also pursue a 2-year Associate’s Degree in.

Culinary Arts or Food Services Management at an accredited university or college. Students can also earn Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Culinary Management or Hospitality Management with culinary arts being a core component of the program.

Today you can attend a traditional school or you can take some classes online. All programs are a blend of learning and hands-on instruction.

The online programs are often accessed by people who need classes for degree completion and have completed required cooking lab work elsewhere or are seeking continuing education. But there are online culinary arts programs that use technology such as live webcams and web based instructional videos for program delivery. In those cases the degree can be earned online.

Pick a Career Path that Suits You

A typical career path would be to begin working as a restaurant cook or kitchen worker, progress to a lead cook position, become a chef, earn a promotion to a lead chef position or specialize as a pastry chef, Sous chef and others. Executive chefs manage kitchens with large staff and high meal volumes.

The salaries for beginning chefs or cooks are good, and you can quickly increase your income with experience and continuing education and specialization. What is interesting to note is that the salaries in the various hospitality businesses are similar. That is good news for you because it makes it easier to seek a position across industries and find the ideal job.

If food and beverage preparation and management is the career you want then a culinary arts degree is a great choice!

What Working as a Chef is Like

Do you love to cook? Are you feeling inspired by the movie Ratatouille or all the food-based reality TV shows on air today?  If so, working as a chef may just be for you.  However, before you rush out and sign up for culinary school, be aware that working as a chef isn’t all glitz and glamour.  There’s a long ladder to climb before you reach the rank of executive chef at a top restaurant.

Should You Attend Culinary School?

The first question that many prospective chefs have is whether or not they need to attend to culinary school in order to become successful. The short answer is no – it is possible to develop your cooking skills on your own, or to work your way up the ladder from a position as a prep cook or line cook.  However, if you are able to invest in a culinary school education, it’s definitely a good idea.  Culinary school will not only introduce you to other elements of a chef’s career – like sanitation and kitchen management – but will also help you develop connections that can help get your career off the ground.

Entry-Level Positions in the Culinary Field

Your first job as a chef will likely be at the bottom of the ladder. If you attended culinary school, you may find that you’re able to start out as a prep cook in a nice restaurant, while chefs without this degree may find employment as short order or line cooks in smaller restaurants and diners.  Expect to work hard in these positions – you’ll put in long hours on your feet, schlepping heavy pots and pans around a steaming kitchen.  And don’t expect to be paid much – chefs in these positions typically earn about $26,000-$32,000/year.  However, it is in these positions that you’ll have the chance to learn from more experienced chefs and to prove yourself ready for higher-level positions.

Moving Up the Ladder

Competition for chef positions can be fierce, but if you’ve proven yourself to be talented and creative, you may be invited to fill a sous chef or assistant chef position. You may also be able to leverage your experience to move from a smaller, unrenowned restaurant to a rated restaurant in the culinary capitols of the world.  But don’t expect that the work load will let up.  If anything, these positions are more demanding that the entry-level positions, since you’ll be responsible for more of the kitchen operations and for ensuring customer satisfaction.  In addition, one common complaint of chefs working these positions is the hours – working popular meal shifts may leave little time for socializing outside of the restaurant.

Owning or Managing Your Own Restaurant

With time and experience, you may eventually be able to earn the title of executive chef at a prestigious restaurant or finally fulfill your dream of owning your own eatery. It should go without saying that these opportunities are even more competitive and demanding than work at any other level of the chef hierarchy.  You’ll be expected to provide the creative vision for the restaurant, coming up with new and innovative dishes to please your patrons.  In addition, you’ll also be responsible for the overall management of your entire staff and all the kitchen operations.  Because of all the stress involved in this career path, it isn’t uncommon to see talented chefs leave the restaurant industry behind for calmer options, like catering or restaurant buffet management.  However, most people in the industry will tell you that despite the utter chaos of their profession, there’s nothing else they’d rather be doing.

Requirements to Become a Chef

Getting a job in the culinary arts may require many years of training – or none at all – depending on the area of the culinary arts you want to go into.

If you’re looking for a career in the fast food or short-order industry, you won’t need any education past your high school diploma, since you’ll receive most of your training on the job. However, if you would like to become a chef and work in an upper-level restaurant or open your own restaurant, you’ll need to attend a professional culinary arts school.

Requirements for Becoming a Chef

Generally, you’ll need to earn a certificate or even a two- or four-year degree to be a head chef or own your own restaurant. You can pursue these programs from any culinary arts school, although not all of them are accredited by the American Culinary Federation.  These programs usually last a year or two, before you move into an apprenticeship that lasts another few years.

Few graduates go directly to a head cook or chef position; most must spend a few years gaining experience in the kitchen before they meet the requirements to become a chef in a higher-level position.

If you’re anxious to begin your culinary arts career, you may find that some of these programs offer accelerated degree options. In these programs, you’ll take longer classes over a shorter period of time – rather than taking a handful of classes each semester.  While these programs do enable you to enter the workforce sooner, they can be intense – be sure you’re up for the challenge before you enroll.

In addition to education, there are a number of other qualifications for becoming a chef. You will likely need to demonstrate these qualification in order to gain employment. Working in a kitchen is a hot, high pressure environment, and it takes a certain kind of temperament to withstand that kind of stress day-in and day-out.  You’ve got to be ready to work quickly while juggling a number of orders and tasks.  With practice, you can become more efficient – although working chefs may have limited patience if this is a skill you don’t inherently possess.

Another qualification for culinary arts professionals is manual dexterity – you’ll have to be able to cut, slice, and chop various foods during the day without cutting yourself. You also need a good sense of taste and smell to know when dishes are done and if they taste like they should.  If you’re planning on becoming a head chef someday, you’ll also need to be creative with your food.  Restaurant menus and specialty dishes are often created by the head chef or owner, so you may be called on to create your very own dish to serve.

Finally, you need to have a sense of cleanliness because kitchens must adhere to the strictest of health codes and requirements. Many culinary arts education programs offer classes on food safety protocols – it’s imperative that you be familiar with these, especially if you own your own restaurant.  You may also find it useful to know a foreign language since many restaurant staff members are international.

In addition to these qualifications and education, there’s one very, very important thing you must have to really make your mark in the culinary arts – passion. You have to be passionate about your cooking and the food you create.  The culinary arts field is one of those areas in which a person’s enjoyment of their job is truly reflected in their work.  If you’re passionate about cooking, your enthusiasm will show through in the quality of the dishes you create and prepare.

Culinary School Overview

Getting an education in the culinary arts is a bit different from other jobs. First, the amount of education you need depends on what type of cooking you want to do. For those who work in fast food, work as a short-order cook, or work as a food preparer, culinary degrees just aren’t necessary. Workers in these positions usually receive all of their education and training on the job. However, if you’re looking for a position as a chef in a larger restaurant, you’ll likely need to attend a cooking school or at the very least take some culinary art classes.