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How Can I Become a Culinary Manager?

Research what it takes to become a culinary manager. Learn about education requirements, job outlook, and wages to discover if this is the career for you.

What Is a Culinary Manager?

A culinary manager, also known as a food service manager, oversees the day-to-day operations of a restaurant or other food service establishment. They are responsible for hiring and supervising all restaurant employees, scheduling hours and ensuring that kitchen and wait staff comply with sanitation and safety regulations. In addition, they monitor food preparation and presentation, and they address customer service concerns in order to ensure that all patrons at the establishment have a high-quality dining experience. Finally, they are responsible for the financial aspects of running a restaurant, including budget management, employee payroll and ingredient and equipment ordering.

The following chart gives an overview about what you need to know before entering this field.

Degree Required High school diploma plus several years of experience in the industry at minimum; postsecondary education available; bachelor's degree recommended
Education Field of Study Culinary management
Key Skills Supervisory skills, knowledge of food safety laws, food preparation
Job Growth (2018-2028) 11% (all food service managers)*
Median Annual Wage (2018) $54,240 (all food service managers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Get Your Culinary Manager Degree

Culinary arts training is commonly offered in a certificate and associate's and bachelor's degree program. But if it's a managerial position you seek, you'll probably want to pursue a bachelor's degree program in culinary management to make the most of your employment opportunities. These types of programs often teach the hands-on kitchen skills you'll need in the first two years. In the final two years of the program, you'll learn the business and personnel skills you need to manage a culinary facility of any size.

What Will I Study?

Culinary arts degree programs are often arranged so that your initial two years of study are devoted to the specific culinary arts that are necessary for chefs and cooks. You'll study kitchen concepts such as soups and sauces, food safety and sanitation, reductions, breads and pastries, food item cost control and meat cutting. You'll also explore various ethnic and regional cuisines, such as European, American, French or New World. The majority of your time will be spent in the kitchen lab, honing your skills and perfecting your art.

In the final two years of the program, you'll learn the science of business that will allow you to be a successful culinary manager. You'll enroll in courses covering marketing, accounting, finance and regulatory issues. You'll learn leadership principles while studying the art of personnel management and organizational psychology. Most programs feature some coursework covering the entrepreneurial issues behind opening your own restaurant. These programs often take four years to complete, although accelerated programs are available.

Where Could I Work?

As the title suggests, culinary managers typically supervise food establishments. While this is true, there are plenty of employment opportunities out there that aren't in restaurants. Culinary managers may find employment in restaurants, bars, banquet and catering services, schools and hospitals. After earning a few years of experience, culinary managers may consider working independently, perhaps by establishing a catering company.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

A closely related option is a job as a chef. Like food service managers, chefs play supervisory roles in the restaurant, overseeing kitchen staff and ensuring food quality. However, their work often focuses more heavily on the culinary aspects of the restaurant; they are often involved in food preparation and menu development. Alternatively, aspiring managers might also be interested in jobs as managers of lodging establishments, such as hotels or motels. Like culinary managers, a postsecondary degree is not always required for these positions, but it can significantly improve job prospects.