Culinary is the art of cooking. No matter where you live or what you do, food is a necessity that reflects our taste, tradition, and culture. The food industry has grown in recent years as more people are incorporating “eating out” in their daily routines. According to the National Restaurant Association, more Americans are adopting healthier lifestyles and concepts, pushing the demand for culinary artists that can meet the requirements.
Television shows such as “Masterchef USA” have added to the popularity of culinary careers. Many assume that becoming a culinary chef requires no formal training. In today’s highly advanced economy where consumer tastes are constantly evolving, chefs must be skilled and educated. The field of culinary arts is not just limited to cooking, but includes a variety of other sub-categories such as food management, beverage management, hospitality, restaurant management, and more. The booming food industry offers diverse career paths to individuals interested in culinary arts.
Culinary Arts Programs
Culinary arts degree programs are offered by many accredited culinary schools. Students can choose from many renowned schools that offer specialized programs at associate, bachelor, and masters level. A culinary arts degree equip students with necessary cooking skills and a thorough understanding of food science. Here are the main post-secondary degrees offered:
Associate Degree in Culinary Arts
This is a two year undergraduate program that is designed for students who want to prepare for entry-level careers, or want to pursue advanced education ahead. The program will cover a wide range of topics that will equip students with in-depth knowledge of culinary arts and cuisines. Students will gain an overview of culinary theories and catering, and relevant concepts. Here are some of the basic subjects one is most likely to cover in this degree:
- Catering cuisine
- Culinary presentation skills
- Inventory control
- Food safety
- Baking and pastry arts
Bachelor Degree in Culinary Arts
This program is geared towards providing students with in-depth knowledge of the culinary field. Students develop diverse cooking skills and also broaden their theoretical understanding of food science. Alongside developing a solid foundation of general education, the program will emphasize advanced core subjects. Students will learn how modern-day food businesses are run, what factors influence food cultures, and how food is marketed through various mediums.
The coursework of the degree is divided into theoretical and practical subject areas. Gaining hands on experience is vital for a career in culinary arts. Here are a few of the main subjects covered:
- Anthropology of food
- Principles of microeconomics
- Elementary cuisine (French, Chinese, Italian, Spanish)
- Ecology of food
- Food service management
- Marketing and promoting food
Masters Degree in Culinary Arts
This is a two-year graduate program that emphasizes on advanced culinary skill development. The program is intended for students who are already working in the culinary industry, have already earned a bachelor degree in the same or relevant field, and wish to broaden their career opportunities.
In the program, students will explore various culinary theories and their applications in the industry. The program will highlight latest food trends in industries and their impact on the field. The coursework will cover a range of subjects that are theoretical in nature and practice-oriented. Here are some of the subjects you will cover:
- Modern banquet cookery
- Cuisines and cultures
- Controlling costs and purchasing food
- Menu development
- Hospitality and service management
A master’s degree may also include an externship as a part of the curriculum. This is a supervised work experience that helps students acquire work knowledge, skill, and professional exposure. To successfully complete each degree, you must earn a minimum number of credit hours, complete all assignments, and pass certain examinations.
Online learning has gradually gained popularity all across the globe. If pursuing culinary arts is your goal, but you can’t afford college or do not have the time for classes, you can still achieve your goal with the help of an online culinary arts degree. The online mode of learning can prove to be more flexible and convenient for working professionals. The coursework can be completed through online videos and lectures. Apart from flexibility, an online culinary degree could be more cost-effective as well.
Culinary arts programs can open doors to a wide range of careers. Depending upon the degree you’ve earned, and your area of specialization, you can apply for positions in restaurants, cafes, bakery and pastry shops, and even in food processing plants. A culinary degree could also help you set up your own business. Many culinary arts majors have started their own catering firms and are self-employed. The income level will vary from job to job. Here are a few main job positions and the median annual income data for 2012 provided by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Chefs and head cook – $42,480
- Food service managers – $47,960
To expand your job opportunities and income potential, you could earn professional certifications as well. The field of culinary arts is expected to grow steadily in the coming years. This career path is suitable for you if you enjoy cooking and want to transform your passion into a career.