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.
|James Rumsey Technical Institute||Martinsburg||WV||144|
|Jefferson Community College||Louisville||KY||9520|
|Johnson & Wales University||Providence||RI||9172|
|Johnson & Wales University - Charleston||Charleston||SC||1396|
|Johnson & Wales University - Florida Campus||North Miami||FL||1620|
|Johnson & Wales University - Norfolk||Norfolk||VA||619|
|Joliet Junior College||Joliet||IL||11334|
|Kauai Community College||Lihue||HI||1052|
|Keystone College||La Plume||PA||1220|
|Kirkwood Community College||Cedar Rapids||IA||11645|
|Lacademie De Cuisine||Gaithersburg||MD||88|
|Lake Career and Technical Center||Camdenton||MO||30|
|Lake Land College||Mattoon||IL||5925|
|Lake Technical Center||Eustis||FL||669|
|Lake Washington Technical College||Kirkland||WA||3917|
|Lane Community College||Eugene||OR||9957|
|Lee County High Tech Center North||Cape Coral||FL||120|
|Lincoln Land Community College||Springfield||IL||6789|
|Lindsey Hopkins Technical Education Center||Miami||FL||275|
|Linn - Benton Community College||Albany||OR||4443|
|Long Beach City College||Long Beach||CA||20926|
|Lorenzo Walker Institute of Technology||Naples||FL||1607|
|Los Angeles Trade Technical College||Los Angeles||CA||18164|
|Louisiana Technical College - Avoyelles Campus||Cottonport||LA||219|
|Louisiana Technical College - Baton Rouge Campus||Baton Rouge||LA||1015|
|Louisiana Technical College - Delta - Ouachita Campus||West Monroe||LA||652|
|Louisiana Technical College - Jefferson Campus||Metairie||LA||257|
|Louisiana Technical College - Jumonville Memorial||New Roads||LA||607|
|Louisiana Technical College - Lafayette Campus||Lafayette||LA||519|
|Louisiana Technical College - Shreveport - Bossier Campus||Shreveport||LA||1067|
|Louisiana Technical College - Sidney N Collier Campus||New Orleans||LA||890|
|Louisiana Technical College - Slidell Campus||Slidell||LA||531|
|Louisiana Technical College - Westside Campus||Plaquemine||LA||265|
|Lower Columbia College||Longview||WA||3248|
|Macomb Community College||Warren||MI||22001|
|Madison Area Technical College||Madison||WI||14474|
|Manatee Technical Institute||Bradenton||FL||2721|
|Meridian Technology Center||Stillwater||OK||662|
|Metro Technology Centers||Oklahoma City||OK||434|
|Miami Lakes Educational Center||Miami Lakes||FL||1098|
|Mid Florida Tech||Orlando||FL||1927|
|Middlesex County College||Edison||NJ||10398|
|Milwaukee Area Technical College||Milwaukee||WI||14296|
|Minneapolis Community and Technical College||Minneapolis||MN||6363|
|Minnesota State Community Technical College - Moorhead||Moorhead||MN||No Data|
|Mission College||Santa Clara||CA||9821|
|Mississippi University for Women||Columbus||MS||2814|
|Mitchell Technical Institute||Mitchell||SD||905|
|Mohawk Valley Community College - Utica Branch||Utica||NY||5092|
|Monongalia County Technical Education Center||Morgantown||WV||108|
|Morris County Vocational School District||Denville||NJ||No Data|
|Mott Community College||Flint||MI||8659|
|Nashville State Technical Community College||Nashville||TN||7315|
|New Community Workforce Development Center||Newark||NJ||468|
|New England Culinary Institute||Montpelier||VT||177|
|New England Culinary Institute at Essex||Essex Junction||VT||160|
|New England Institute of Technology - Palm Beach||West Palm Beach||FL||836|
|New England Technical Institute of Connecticut Inc||New Britain||CT||573|
|New Hampshire Community Technical College - Berlin/laconia||Laconia||NH||1471|
|New York Restaurant School||New York||NY||1281|
|Newbury College - Brookline||Brookline||MA||2152|
|Niagara County Community College||Sanborn||NY||4641|
|Nicholls State University||Thibodaux||LA||7326|
|Nicolet Area Technical College||Rhinelander||WI||1415|
|North Dakota State College of Science||Wahpeton||ND||2425|
|North Idaho College||Coeur Dalene||ID||4049|
|North Shore Community College||Danvers||MA||6285|
|Northampton County Area Community College||Bethlehem||PA||4797|
|Northeast Technology Center - Afton||Afton||OK||96|
|Northern Michigan University||Marquette||MI||8427|
|Northwestern Michigan College||Traverse City||MI||3965|
|Oakland Community College - Bloomfield Hills Campus||Bloomfield Hills||MI||23188|
|Ocean County Vocational - Technical School||Toms River||NJ||177|
|Ogden - Weber Applied Technology College||Ogden||UT||1231|
|Onondaga Community College||Syracuse||NY||7848|
|Orange Coast College||Costa Mesa||CA||23315|
|Ozarks Technical Community College||Springfield||MO||6343|
|Pasadena City College||Pasadena||CA||22948|
|Penn Valley Community College||Kansas City||MO||4366|
|Pennsylvania College of Technology||Williamsport||PA||5320|
|Pierce College at Fort Steilacoom||Lakewood||WA||9238|
|Pima Community College||Tucson||AZ||28078|
|Pinellas Technical Education Center - Clearwater||Clearwater||FL||1417|
|Pioneer Technology Center||Ponca City||OK||82|
|Putnam - Westchester Boces Practical Nursing Program||Yorktown Heights||NY||165|
|Radford M Locklin Technical Center||Milton||FL||322|
|Rend Lake College||Ina||IL||2739|
|Renton Technical College||Renton||WA||5065|
|Ridge Career Center||Winter Haven||FL||156|
|Robert Morgan Educational Center||Miami||FL||1075|
|Saddleback College||Mission Viejo||CA||18563|
|Saint Cloud Technical College||Saint Cloud||MN||2949|
|Saint Louis Community College - Forest Park||Saint Louis||MO||6749|
|Saint Paul College - A Community and Technical College||Saint Paul||MN||5247|