Cooking and Culinary Services

Cooking and culinary services programs prepare graduates for a wide variety of jobs in the food services industry. Read on for more information about areas of specialization, employment, salaries and training options for cooking and culinary service professionals.

Is Cooking or Culinary Service for Me?

Career Overview

There are many different positions for skilled workers within cooking and culinary services, both in hands-on food preparation and management positions. These positions are not limited to traditional, full-service restaurants. Workers are needed at all levels to staff institutional kitchens in hotels or hospitals, fast food restaurants, catering businesses and kitchens in retail stores, such as those found in supermarkets.

Areas of Specialization

Aspiring culinary professionals must learn the general workings of a commercial kitchen, with additional attention paid to the specific area in which they wish to be employed. Prospective restaurant managers, for instance, learn about kitchen supplies and logistics. Future institutional food service workers focus on large-batch food production, while would-be head chefs often learn about cutting-edge developments in cuisine at culinary institutes.

Employment and Salary Information

There are no formal educational requirements for most food service positions, and some workers, such as short order cooks, continue to learn their trade on the job. However, chefs, head cooks and food service managers in particular may benefit from a formal education.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in May 2012, chefs and head cooks (including pastry chefs) earned an average of $46,570 a year. As of May 2012, food service managers and bakers earned average yearly salaries of $52,580 and $25,060, respectively (

How Can I Work in Cooking and Culinary Services?

Education and Training Requirements

Formal culinary programs, available at both the associate and bachelor's degree levels, can provide aspiring professionals with the skills they need to pursue entry-level positions in the food service industry. Programs are usually divided into three broad tracks: culinary arts, including the preparation of savory main courses and appetizers, pastry and baking arts and restaurant management and hospitality, which emphasize front of the house operations and overall restaurant logistics. Chefs and head cooks can enter the field with an associate or bachelor's degree in a hospitality-related field. Gourmet chefs generally need years of additional work experience and training.

Additional Requirements

Food service managers may pursue voluntary certification from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. All food service workers need to be familiar with food safety laws and regulations in their state.

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    Students with an interest in culinary arts can find sufficient training through two-year programs at technical colleges or trade schools. Such programs cover topics like food preparation and presentation, food service management, nutrition, baking and international cuisine. With the right amount of culinary training students can go on to become bakers, chefs or food service managers.
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