How Can I Be a Chef Specializing in Authentic Mexican Cuisine?

Learn how to prepare authentic Mexican cuisine for caterers, hotels and restaurants. Find out about degree programs and study abroad options, continuing education opportunities and salary ranges. Schools offering Art of Cooking degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Mexican Cuisine Chef?

A chef specializing in authentic Mexican cuisine plays a leadership role at a restaurant or other food service establishment that serves traditional Mexican food. Chefs are involved in kitchen supervision and oversight; they coordinate kitchen staff; aid in food preparation; and ensure that safety and sanitation protocols are being followed. They are also responsible for menu development and recipe testing. Chefs who specialize in authentic Mexican cuisine may include items such as enchiladas, mole, tortas, horchata and paletas on the menu.

Degree Required High school diploma or equivalent
Training Required Apprenticeships or on-the-job training may be available
Education Field of Study Culinary Arts, Mexican cuisine
Licensure and/or Certification Certifications and professional organization memberships are available
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% for all chefs and head cooks*
Median Salary (2015) $41,500 for all chefs and head cooks*

Can Culinary Arts Degree Programs Help Me Become A Chef Specializing in Authentic Mexican Cuisine?

While most degree programs in culinary arts cover a broad range of topics, some programs offer a course in Mexican cuisine. You may study different types of regional cuisine in Mexico as well as the history of indigenous foods, such as corn, chilies and beans. You can learn about food preparation techniques and make a variety of dishes using common Mexican ingredients, including squash and avocados.

You may also find optional study-abroad programs that allow you to travel to Mexico and get first-hand experience in authentic Mexican cuisine. You can experience local flavor at restaurants and take field trips to markets or bakeries. In these programs, you can learn to make tamales, mole sauces and tortillas. You may also use traditional Mexican cooking utensils like a mortar and pestle and grinding stones.

Are Continuing Education Classes Available?

A variety of programs exist for established chefs interested in Mexican cuisine. You can attend conferences focused on Latin American cuisine that can expand your knowledge of Mexican cooking methods including roasting, slow cooking and grilling. You may also find individual continuing education courses that cover specific topics like desserts or appetizers.

You may also consider joining a professional organization like the Mexican Restaurant Association (MERA) which helps restaurant owners and chefs promote authentic Mexican cuisine (www.mexmera.org). As a member of MERA, you can get support in obtaining specialized Mexican ingredients and participate in seminars and training courses on Mexican cuisine.

Where Do Professionals Work?

As a chef specializing in Mexican cuisine, you can work at full-service Mexican restaurants, for a catering company or in a hotel. You may also choose to open your own Mexican cuisine restaurant. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of all chefs, including Mexican cuisine chefs, was expected to grow 9% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than the national average.

According to the BLS, chefs made a median annual salary of $41,500 as of May 2015. Chefs in the top 10% earned more than $74,170, while those in the lowest 10% earned $23,150 or less.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in a leadership position at a restaurant that serves Mexican or other types of food, you may want to consider a job as a food service manager. Even though these professionals are less involved in food preparation itself, they play a key role in ensuring that the operation of the restaurant runs smoothly by ordering supplies, managing staff, implementing safety and sanitation protocols, and addressing customer concerns. Food service managers need no formal training, but an undergraduate degree can boost job prospects. Alternatively, if you are passionate about the preparation of Mexican food, you may want to consider a job as a cook. Just like chefs, cooks do not need a degree, but completing a culinary arts program can help greatly improve cooking skills.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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