STEP 3: Get the Education and Skills You Need
On-the-job training is most common for fast-food cooks, short-order cooks, and food preparation workers but most chefs and others with more advanced cooking duties attend culinary school.
There is a wide range of training programs available in the culinary arts field—
Vocational or trade-school programs typically offer basic training in food handling and sanitation procedures, nutrition, slicing and dicing methods for various kinds of meats and vegetables, and basic cooking methods, such as baking, broiling, and grilling.
Longer programs leading to a certificate or a 2- or 4-year degree train chefs for fine-dining or upscale restaurants. They offer a wider array of training specialties, such as advanced cooking techniques; cooking for banquets, buffets, or parties; and cuisines and cooking styles from around the world.
Most formal training programs also require students to get experience in a commercial kitchen through an internship, apprenticeship, or out-placement program.
Knowledge of a foreign language can be an asset because it may improve communication with other restaurant staff, vendors, and the restaurant’s clientele.
Areas of study at culinary school:
• Business: An important subject as you will be responsible for the ordering of food and supplies. It is also helpful if you plan to someday run a restaurant of your own.
• History, cultural studies, and sciences: The reason why this part of your studies is so important should be obvious: Food is culture. Familiarizing yourself with the history, practices, and ideas behind different cuisines is an essential first step in your culinary education.
• Mathematics: As a chef, you will often be required to estimate pricing for foods that balances out with the cost of preparing it. You will also be required to estimate the cost of supplies and ingredients, and you must remain on or below your budget.
• Natural sciences: Such studies will help you to identify any poisonous or harmful food-stuffs. Further, chemistry in the kitchen is an exciting, innovative field in gourmet cuisine!
• Human relations: You must be able to relate to other people on their level if you are a chef because you will be dealing with quite a few of them daily, and none of them will be the same.
• Art: Art will help you to present an attractive dish and will help you to effectively blend the right foods together in a way that will be more appealing to your customer.
• Foreign languages: Knowledge of foreign languages is an asset to every chef. It is quite common for a chef to travel to foreign locations when looking for inspiration for a new dish. Further, many top-notch restaurants write all their menus in French or Italian, for example.