What to Know About Getting a Culinary Arts Degree
Before cooking shows became so popular, back in the day if you asked someone who their favorite chef was, it might have been Jack Tripper, the likable fictional chef from the TV show “Three’s Company.” But now if you ask someone who their favorite chef is, you might get a long response back. There are plenty of famous chefs in the world today and it no doubt has led others to pursuing the profession as well. Where did they start? With a culinary arts degree most likely.
Plenty of Specialty Chefs
Even if someone believes they do not have the ability to become a chef or get a culinary arts degree because they do not have a wide base of knowledge across the board on all types of food and preparation, they should reconsider. There are plenty of chefs that only specialize in one exact field.
For instance, a person could become a:
● Pastry chef.
● Vegetable chef.
● Fish chef.
● Sauce chef.
● Sous chef.
● Butcher chef.
● Pantry chef.
● Meat chef.
● Fry chef.
● Prep chef.
● Commis chef.
So, as you can see, a person can specialize in one field and make a solid career out of being a specialty chef that only handles their favorite culinary areas.
What to Expect When Becoming a Chef
If you talk to a handful of professional chefs, their pathways on how they became masters in their field would all probably be a little bit different. Just like everyone’s life story, you never know for sure how things will transpire. However, here could be a good map to follow if you or someone you know is interested in becoming a chef and pursuing a culinary arts degree.
1. Start Experimenting in Your Kitchen
You have to walk before you can run. Try to learn some of the basics in your own kitchen before branching out. A good idea would be to put on one of your favorite cooking shows on your tablet and try to emulate what they are doing as you follow along. It really is a free cooking lesson, so even if things go wrong, you will at least still be learning.
2. Get a Job in a Restaurant Kitchen
Even before you graduate high school, you can usually find a job working in a restaurant in the kitchen if you are searching hard enough. Receiving a little free training and money while you are broadening your skills when you are still young is something you can continue to build off of. Even if you start off by just washing dishes, let your boss know that you are open to learning whatever they can offer you. Long hours in the kitchen are how most chefs get better at their trade.
3. Graduate High School
If you have not done so already, make certain you either graduate from high school or at least earn your GED. You may know for certain you want to become a chef, but that does not mean you have to give up the rest of your education in the process. Earn your high school diploma and then proceed from there.
4. Culinary Classes
Many local junior colleges offer culinary classes without the person needing to be a full-time student. In fact, you may be able to take one of these even before you graduate from high school. These inexpensive classes could enable a person to figure out exactly what type of chef they would like to be.
5. Attend a Culinary or Cooking School
With a quick Google search of your local area, there is almost certainly going to be a culinary or cooking school you can attend. If you would rather attend a more elite school, you will probably have to broaden your search a bit.
These schools will have a student taking classes anywhere from a few months long to even a complete four years. Some of the best schools can be rather expensive as well, with an average tuition rate of over $30,000. Still, in many of the larger schools, they offer financial aid if needed.
Online Culinary Programs.
You also have the option of taking your chef schooling completely online. With online culinary programs, you will be issued assignments that you complete in your own kitchen at home. Students can earn certificates or even diplomas in the field just like they would if they were attending courses in person.
When determining the salary a chef may earn, it really depends on several factors. For instance:
- Are you working at a top restaurant in a big city?
- Are you just starting out or have decades of experience under your apron?
- Is the place you are working at essentially a diner or cafe?
- Are you top in your field?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average chef wage is currently about $52,000. But once again, if your work and skills get you very well-known, the sky is the limit on what you can earn. Earning six figures down the road is possible and if you become one of these celebrity chefs, you may earn millions of dollars with TV appearances and cookbooks.
If You Love What You Do…
You will never work a day in your life. If becoming a chef is a dream of yours, then pursue it. Who knows? You may even open your own restaurant someday!