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|
|University of Alaska Anchorage||Anchorage||AK||14794|
|University of Alaska Fairbanks||Fairbanks||AK||7132|
|H Councill Trenholm State Technical College||Montgomery||AL||663|
|Pima Community College||Tucson||AZ||28078|
|Scottsdale Culinary Institute||Scottsdale||AZ||602|
|The Art Institute of Phoenix||Phoenix||AZ||1070|
|Art Institute of California - Los Angeles||Santa Monica||CA||1185|
|California School of Culinary Arts||Pasadena||CA||681|
|Chaffey College||Rancho Cucamonga||CA||15220|
|College of the Desert||Palm Desert||CA||6972|
|Contra Costa College||San Pablo||CA||7133|
|Diablo Valley College||Pleasant Hill||CA||21581|
|Glendale Community College||Glendale||CA||15596|
|Grossmont College||El Cajon||CA||16309|
|Institute of Technology Inc||Clovis||CA||1003|
|Long Beach City College||Long Beach||CA||20926|
|Los Angeles Trade Technical College||Los Angeles||CA||18164|
|Mission College||Santa Clara||CA||9821|
|Orange Coast College||Costa Mesa||CA||23315|
|Pasadena City College||Pasadena||CA||22948|
|Saddleback College||Mission Viejo||CA||18563|
|San Bernardino Valley College||San Bernardino||CA||12025|
|San Diego Mesa College||San Diego||CA||21233|
|San Joaquin Delta College||Stockton||CA||16973|
|Santa Barbara City College||Santa Barbara||CA||13834|
|Santa Rosa Junior College||Santa Rosa||CA||27020|
|Victor Valley Community College||Victorville||CA||9221|
|Art Institute of Colorado||Denver||CO||2090|
|Connecticut Culinary Institute||Farmington||CT||125|
|New England Technical Institute of Connecticut Inc||New Britain||CT||573|
|Delaware Technical and Community College - Stanton - Wilmington||Newark||DE||6622|
|Atlantic Technical Center||Coconut Creek||FL||1570|
|Brevard Community College||Cocoa||FL||13265|
|First Coast Technical Institute||Saint Augustine||FL||1634|
|George Stone Career Center||Pensacola||FL||537|
|Johnson & Wales University - Florida Campus||North Miami||FL||1620|
|Lake Technical Center||Eustis||FL||669|
|Lee County High Tech Center North||Cape Coral||FL||120|
|Lindsey Hopkins Technical Education Center||Miami||FL||275|
|Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology||Naples||FL||1607|
|Manatee Technical Institute||Bradenton||FL||2721|
|Miami Lakes Educational Center||Miami Lakes||FL||1098|
|Mid Florida Tech||Orlando||FL||1927|
|New England Institute of Technology - Palm Beach||West Palm Beach||FL||836|
|Pinellas Technical Education Center - Clearwater||Clearwater||FL||1417|
|Radford M Locklin Technical Center||Milton||FL||322|
|Ridge Career Center||Winter Haven||FL||156|
|Robert Morgan Educational Center||Miami||FL||1075|
|Sarasota County Technical Institute||Sarasota||FL||963|
|Sheridan Technical Center||Hollywood||FL||1487|
|Suwannee - Hamilton Technical Center||Live Oak||FL||88|
|Technical Education Center - Osceola||Kissimmee||FL||No Data|
|The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale Inc||Fort Lauderdale||FL||3145|
|Coastal Georgia Community College||Brunswick||GA||1912|
|The Art Institute of Atlanta||Atlanta||GA||934|
|Kauai Community College||Lihue||HI||1052|
|Travel Institute of the Pacific||Honolulu||HI||179|
|Des Moines Area Community College||Ankeny||IA||10998|
|Eastern Iowa Community College District||Davenport||IA||6179|
|Kirkwood Community College||Cedar Rapids||IA||11645|
|Boise State University||Boise||ID||16287|
|Brigham Young University - Idaho||Rexburg||ID||8949|
|North Idaho College||Coeur Dalene||ID||4049|
|Black Hawk College||Moline||IL||6118|
|College of Dupage||Glen Ellyn||IL||28862|
|College of Lake County||Grayslake||IL||14441|
|Elgin Community College||Elgin||IL||10174|
|Illinois Central College||East Peoria||IL||11053|
|Illinois Eastern Community Colleges - Olney Central College||Olney||IL||1648|
|Illinois Valley Community College||Oglesby||IL||3794|
|Joliet Junior College||Joliet||IL||11334|
|Lake Land College||Mattoon||IL||5925|
|Lincoln Land Community College||Springfield||IL||6789|
|Rend Lake College||Ina||IL||2739|
|Shawnee Community College||Ullin||IL||1880|
|Southeastern Illinois College||Harrisburg||IL||2508|
|Southwestern Illinois College||Belleville||IL||13351|
|The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago||Chicago||IL||761|
|Triton College||River Grove||IL||16927|
|William Rainey Harper College||Palatine||IL||15021|
|Ivy Tech Community College - Central Indiana||Indianapolis||IN||6748|
|Jefferson Community College||Louisville||KY||9520|
|Bossier Parish Community College||Bossier City||LA||4332|
|Culinary Arts Institute of Louisiana||Baton Rouge||LA||58|