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The culinary arts offer a wide array of career opportunities for people with an interest in cooking. Although training and certification adds credibility to those entering the field, it is not essential. Numerous successful chefs and culinary professionals do not hold a formal credential and entered the field as entrepreneurs or through apprenticeship programs. Those with an interest in obtaining professional designations can get certified through culinary associations.
Chefs work in the hospitality industry and hold specialty positions such as executive chef, sous-chef and pastry chef. In addition to attending culinary schools, restaurant chefs can break into the business without attending school through on-the-job training. Many restaurants and hotels offer entry-level apprenticeship opportunities where trainees can gain hands-on experience and learn the latest cooking techniques. In addition to pursuing apprenticeship programs, entry-level chefs can enhance their qualifications by obtaining their certification from accredited institutions. The American Culinary Federation Certification Program awards Certified Culinarian designations to qualified candidates.
Individuals who are entrepreneurial can diversify their skills by working as caterers. Caterers plan and supervise the food service for parties, banquets or social events. Caterers generally run their own business and must also be good at administrative duties. In addition to being responsible for providing a menu, caterers may also be in charge of decorations and hiring wait staff for an event. Depending on the size of a business, caterers may prepare food on or off-premises and can specialize in main dishes or desserts. Qualified caterers can obtain a Professional Catering Executive (CPCE) designation from the certification from the National Association of Catering Executives (NACE).
Food critics are experts who write reviews and news about restaurants, wines and new trends in dining. They provide insightful information on the latest culinary styles and get paid to eat for a living. Similar to journalists, food critics work for newspapers or magazines and write in the dining, food and wine or entertainment sections. They devise food-rating systems and combine facts as well as their own opinion when writing a review. Food critics should have a discerning palate; they should also be adventurous and passionate about food.
If you are a talented cook with a formal training, you can play a significant role in shaping the culinary field, and have a highly rewarding career by working as a culinary instructor. Instructors promote the field of culinary studies and help to advance the careers of promising students. Organizations like the American Culinary Federation (ACF) provide numerous cooking scholarships and a certificate program for culinary instructors. ACF offers 14 certification programs including apprenticeship programs for its members.
Individuals with an interest in food and culture can work as food historians, in research and travel related fields. Food historians investigate the trends and transformations in food production and the culinary arts. They work as freelancers or consultants, and use archival materials to recreate new recipes. Food researchers can work as curators at museums or teach at educational institutions. Other career opportunities include working as travel guides by taking tourists to interesting culinary destinations around the world. The International Association of Culinary Professionals welcomes the membership of food historians.