The culinary arts are the realm of the chef - an evolving figure in a domain that blends both traditional principles and cutting-edge techniques. Professional kitchens, for instance, are still organized according to the "kitchen brigade" inspired by the nineteenth-century French military.
At the same time, the culinary arts are being transformed by innovative new technologies and philosophies of cooking and food service delivery - not to mention the rise of the 'celebrity chef.' Many high-level chefs are now multi-product brand names, such as Wolfgang Puck and Tom Colicchio.
While the top strata of the culinary arts is undergoing something of a cultural renaissance, bear in mind that most chefs and cooks will be employed to do what they have always done - prepare and present superior food in relative obscurity.
Culinary experts like chefs and bakers must be timely and hard-working, capable of multitasking and keeping the chaos of a full-service kitchen organized. For those who genuinely enjoy preparing and serving attractive, tasty food to discerning diners - and who thrive in a high-pressure work environment - a career in the culinary arts may prove satisfying.
Professionals in the culinary arts are also referred to as culinarians or simply chefs. The term 'culinary arts' suggests there is a design component to being a culinarian. This is true; professional chefs are responsible not only for preparation and cooking but for style, taste and, above all, presentation. Meals must be not only delicious, but beautiful - a work of art.
Chefs are also responsible for maintaining high food quality and safety standards as well as managing subordinates like assistants, apprentices and, depending on one's rank, other chefs. Those higher up the hierarchy may design new menus, supervise teams of chefs, or even manage entire restaurants as part of a larger chain. Chefs are generally paid more than first-line supervisors but less than food service managers.
The number of possible positions in this field has increased dramatically in recent years. Chefs are now cookbook authors, recipe consultants and food stylists. Jobs are increasingly parsed through niche diets like vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, raw food, local food, slow food and more. Some work as "personal chefs," contracting with families to prepare and cook custom meals according to special dietary specifications, right in the home.
Chefs and related culinary experts are employed in restaurants and bars, hotels and resorts, catering agencies, schools and universities, spas and cruise ships, airlines, hospitals, the military–anywhere that food is being prepared en masse. A small number engage in consulting, media and retail merchandising. Many don't work for others at all, but instead construct and manage their own businesses as restaurateurs.
The job outlook for food service as a whole is relatively rosy, with thousands of new jobs across the multibillion-dollar industry expected in the next few years. Chefs and head cooks, however, comprise less than 1 percent of the food service industry and the BLS reports little job growth is expected among professional culinarians in the United States through at least the rest of the decade.
Professionally trained chefs are in highest demand at four- and five-star hotels, resorts and cruise ships. The global hospitality, travel and tourism industries are important employers of chefs. As more brands develop their presence on the web via digital consumer marketing, the demand for culinary experts with technological savvy may grow in the coming years.
The American Culinary Federation, or ACF, extends institutional accreditation services through its educational arm, ACFEF. The nonprofit also hosts a nationally recognized apprenticeship program, major industry events, chef competitions and a handful of national publications - all helpful resources for aspiring culinarians who plan to work in the United States.
Because chefs work with food–substances ingested by members of the public - they are legally responsible for all relevant local and state codes governing food, alcohol, health and safety. In most states, for example, a food handler's certificate is a precondition of lawful employment in food service.
Some chefs earn a culinary degree, and others work their way up through the kitchen hierarchy, the more traditional and still widely accepted route. The cost of degree programs varies widely, ranging from $480 to $50,000 a year in full-time tuition. Public, especially community, colleges are among the most affordable options.
The American Culinary Federation, or ACF, is a pivotal organization in this field. Many chefs and head cooks are certified through the ACF, the largest and original professional chefs organization in North America. Primary certification is not mandatory for culinarians, but the federation expects it to become more important in the years to come.
The number of students seeking certificates, associate diplomas and baccalaureate degrees in the culinary arts is on the rise. The number of dedicated culinary programs has also increased substantially in the last decade. Certificate programs usually last between 32 and 52 weeks. An Associate of Arts is the most commonly attained degree by culinary students.
While neither a certificate or degree guarantees employment, they can enhance applicants' resumes in a competitive sector. Remember that the investment return on a culinary arts certificate or degree will vary among geographic locations and different employers.
Depending on the class and culinary style of the job, specialty certifications in a cultural or ethnic cuisine can be valuable for job applicants. Some employers also like to see experience with pastries and desserts as a supplementary skill. Many culinary arts schools offer specialization opportunities in subjects like sustainability, wine and beverages, and the baking and pastry arts.
The American Culinary Federation issues the following basic and advanced certifications:
Certified Sous Chef
Certified Chef de Cuisine
Certified Executive Chef
Certified Master Chef
Personal Certified Chef
Personal Certified Executive Chef
Certified Pastry Culinarian
Certified Working Pastry Chef
Certified Executive Pastry Chef
Certified Master Pastry Chef
We found 271 schools offering culinary arts degree programs in the U.S.
|Alaska Vocational Technical Center||Seward||AK||210|
|Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute||Albuquerque||NM||17265|
|Allegany College of Maryland||Cumberland||MD||2592|
|Altoona Area Vocational Technical School||Altoona||PA||154|
|Anoka Technical College||Anoka||MN||2046|
|Art Institute of California - Los Angeles||Santa Monica||CA||1185|
|Art Institute of Colorado||Denver||CO||2090|
|Art Institute of Houston||Houston||TX||551|
|Art Institute of Philadelphia||Philadelphia||PA||2516|
|Art Institute of Seattle||Seattle||WA||2561|
|Ashland County - West Holmes Career Center||Ashland||OH||77|
|Atlantic Cape Community College||Mays Landing||NJ||5162|
|Atlantic County Vocational Technical School||Mays Landing||NJ||175|
|Atlantic Technical Center||Coconut Creek||FL||1570|
|Baker College of Muskegon||Muskegon||MI||2727|
|Baltimore City Community College||Baltimore||MD||5883|
|Baltimore International College||Baltimore||MD||456|
|Bates Technical College||Tacoma||WA||14808|
|Bellingham Technical College||Bellingham||WA||3682|
|Bergen Community College||Paramus||NJ||11993|
|Berkshire Community College||Pittsfield||MA||2494|
|Bidwell Training Center Inc||Pittsburgh||PA||119|
|Black Hawk College||Moline||IL||6118|
|Blackhawk Technical College||Janesville||WI||2472|
|Boise State University||Boise||ID||16287|
|Bossier Parish Community College||Bossier City||LA||4332|
|Brevard Community College||Cocoa||FL||13265|
|Bridgerland Applied Technology College||Logan||UT||304|
|Brigham Young University - Idaho||Rexburg||ID||8949|
|Bristol Community College||Fall River||MA||6054|
|Brookdale Community College||Lincroft||NJ||11552|
|Bucks County Community College||Newtown||PA||8469|
|Bunker Hill Community College||Boston||MA||6385|
|Caddo Kiowa Technology Center||Fort Cobb||OK||311|
|California School of Culinary Arts||Pasadena||CA||681|
|Camden County Vocational and Technical Schools||Sicklerville||NJ||1120|
|Cape Fear Community College||Wilmington||NC||5470|
|Carver Career Center||Charleston||WV||212|
|Central Maine Community College||Auburn||ME||1318|
|Central Oregon Community College||Bend||OR||4079|
|Century Community and Technical College||White Bear Lake||MN||6937|
|Chaffey College||Rancho Cucamonga||CA||15220|
|Cincinnati State Technical and Community College||Cincinnati||OH||6675|
|Coastal Georgia Community College||Brunswick||GA||1912|
|College of Dupage||Glen Ellyn||IL||28862|
|College of Lake County||Grayslake||IL||14441|
|College of the Desert||Palm Desert||CA||6972|
|Columbia Union College||Takoma Park||MD||1030|
|Columbus State Community College||Columbus||OH||18094|
|Community College of Allegheny County||Pittsburgh||PA||15556|
|Community College of Beaver County||Monaca||PA||2188|
|Community College of Philadelphia||Philadelphia||PA||15953|
|Community College of Southern Nevada||North Las Vegas||NV||29905|
|Connecticut Culinary Institute||Farmington||CT||125|
|Contra Costa College||San Pablo||CA||7133|
|Crownpoint Institute of Technology||Crownpoint||NM||841|
|Culinary Arts Institute of Louisiana||Baton Rouge||LA||58|
|Culinary Institute of New Orleans Llc||New Orleans||LA||245|
|Dakota County Technical College||Rosemount||MN||3086|
|Davis Applied Technology College||Kaysville||UT||324|
|Del Mar College||Corpus Christi||TX||9936|
|Delaware Technical and Community College - Stanton - Wilmington||Newark||DE||6622|
|Denmark Technical College||Denmark||SC||1240|
|Des Moines Area Community College||Ankeny||IA||10998|
|Diablo Valley College||Pleasant Hill||CA||21581|
|Eastern Iowa Community College District||Davenport||IA||6179|
|Edmonds Community College||Lynnwood||WA||8094|
|El Centro College||Dallas||TX||4333|
|Elgin Community College||Elgin||IL||10174|
|Erie Community College - City Campus||Buffalo||NY||2220|
|Erie Community College - South Campus||Orchard Park||NY||3122|
|First Coast Technical Institute||Saint Augustine||FL||1634|
|Fox Valley Technical College||Appleton||WI||6806|
|French Culinary Institute||New York||NY||204|
|George Stone Career Center||Pensacola||FL||537|
|Glendale Community College||Glendale||CA||15596|
|Grand Rapids Community College||Grand Rapids||MI||13400|
|Great Plains Technology Center||Lawton||OK||234|
|Grossmont College||El Cajon||CA||16309|
|H Councill Trenholm State Technical College||Montgomery||AL||663|
|Harrisburg Area Community College - Harrisburg||Harrisburg||PA||7572|
|Hennepin Technical College||Brooklyn Park||MN||5843|
|Henry Ford Community College||Dearborn||MI||12742|
|Holyoke Community College||Holyoke||MA||5754|
|Horry - Georgetown Technical College||Conway||SC||3693|
|Hudson County Community College||Jersey City||NJ||4854|
|Illinois Central College||East Peoria||IL||11053|
|Illinois Eastern Community Colleges - Olney Central College||Olney||IL||1648|
|Illinois Valley Community College||Oglesby||IL||3794|
|Institute of Technology Inc||Clovis||CA||1003|
|International Academy of Design and Technology||Pittsburgh||PA||1296|
|Ivy Tech Community College - Central Indiana||Indianapolis||IN||6748|