Culinary Arts Schools

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What is Culinary Arts?

Culinary arts is the field of study that provides individuals with skills and knowledge in the various aspects of cooking, baking, and other forms of food preparation. The term culinary arts is an umbrella under which the many varieties of and specializations are found under, such as chef, baker, restaurant manager, line cook and others. Individuals working in the culinary arts work closely with food and must abide by health standards put forth by the government for the preparation and serving of food. Culinary arts is a very large field that allows for exceptional variety in one's work choices.

Top Culinary Arts Degrees

Below you will find an overview of the degree and certificate programs available in culinary arts.  The summary is intended to help you perform research more efficiently in your quest to earn a degree or advance in the field.  The programs in culinary arts include certificate programs, associate degrees, and bachelor degrees in culinary arts.

Certificate Programs in Culinary Arts

A certificate in culinary arts and a diploma is culinary arts are programs designed to provide students with foundational knowledge in cooking.  In fact, students will spend substantive time in commercial kitchens learning how to prepare, cook, and serve food of all kinds.  This hands-on learning coupled with classroom-based lectures blends academic and pragmatic to help learn and retain information.  It is important to understand the span of programs involved in culinary arts certificate programs and diploma programs.  More specifically, some programs last a few weeks that teach a specific trade or discipline within the culinary arts while others are more comprehensive lasting a year or more depending on how many credits or hours are earned at a given time.

Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts

An associate’s degree in culinary arts is a two-year program and is conferred as an Associate’s of Arts (AA) at most accredited institutions.  Some schools offer a general culinary arts degree track while others allow students to select an area of specialty such as business management, food service management, nutrition, or entrepreneurship.  Classes at the associate degree program in culinary arts joins liberal arts classes such as communications, philosophy, and English with core cooking classes.  The core curriculum in cooking can include classes that may include: cooking science, international cuisines, beverages, classical cuisines, and cooking in a global marketplace.  Students with an AA degree in culinary arts can launch a variety of careers in myriad industries that may include jobs such as: brewmaster, private chef, food service manager, chef dietician, sommelier, executive chef, product development chef, hospital chef, sports nutritionist, spa chef, nutrition educator, catering chef, private dining chef, corporate chef, wellness manager, and weight loss specialist.

Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts

A bachelor’s degree in culinary arts is a 4-year program conferred as a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor’s of Science (BS) depending on the school’s design and program emphasis.  Bachelor degrees provide students with additional liberal arts classes and more core cooking & kitchen management classes compared to an associate’s degree.  Students in a bachelor’s degree program will have more business management classes such as marketing and operations management blended with science-rich classes like chemistry and nutrition to provide students with a broad-based education and a set of holistic thinking skills to think more completely about the world around them.

Classes offered by colleges in culinary arts can be specialized classes in a specific trade or more focused on general principles. Specific classes can include knife skills, food safety, ingredient pairing, palate development, product identification, meat fabrication, meat classification, soups, reductions, bisques, grand sauces, compound sauces, emulsified sauces, dry-heat cooking, breakfast specialties, dressings & vinaigrettes, international cuisines, pastries, tarts, confections, contemporary desserts, and an externship with an approved institution.

Students earning a BS or BA degree in culinary arts are equipped to start careers in catering, restaurant management, private chef specialist, nutrition, teacher, head cook, food therapist, or food service management in a variety of capacities.

Educational Requirements in Culinary Arts

Obtaining a degree in culinary arts requires the student to understand a variety of techniques for cooking, knowledge of cuisines, and how the food business operates. Some programs may have externship programs to assist students in obtaining practical experience in a real world setting. Those interested in pursuing a degree in culinary arts can choose to go to a culinary school, vocational school, community college, or four year institution.

Various topics will be covered in a culinary arts education, including:

  • International Cuisine
  • Business and Finance
  • Nutrition
  • Sauces, Soups and Starches
  • Butchery

Many schools offer career placement along with their culinary arts program to assist students in finding work after graduation. Some schools may have agreements with established restaurants or kitchens and offer practical internship opportunities alongside their more structured education. Aspiring chefs will do well to take advantage of any opportunities or contacts that may become available through their culinary arts program.

Once one begins a career in culinary arts he or she may choose to specialize in a particular type of cuisine. Individuals who wish to eventually open their own restaurant will typically have a broad understanding of world foods, but will learn and experiment with a particular style. Some chefs may consider combining styles of cuisine, often known as fusions, in order to introduce new flavors or experiment with a juxtaposition of flavors.

Styles of cuisine include:

  • Vegetarian
  • Fusion
  • Ethiopian
  • French
  • Chinese
  • South Caucasian

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Employment Opportunities in the Culinary Arts Industry

An individual seeking a career in the culinary arts can have many opportunities available based on skill and experience. An individual can choose to specialize in certain foods, or focus more on operations, or even food development. Individuals will have to maintain cleanliness in the work place, following the safety laws and restaurant policy. Individuals in managerial positions will be responsible for ensuring that operations run smoothly and be responsible for customer service. The types of jobs available vary wildly, and more experienced individuals with a strong background in culinary arts may choose to eventually pursue their own restaurant.

What Can I Do with a Culinary Arts Degree?

Given the sheer number of disciplines within the culinary arts, there are dozens upon dozens of career options available to choose from in the industry.  From private companies to public institutions and non-profit organizations to entrepreneurial ventures, the jobs within the culinary arts are often limited by your imagination.  A list of the most common jobs a student can expect to land after earning a degree in culinary arts include:

  • Teacher
  • Chef
  • Head Cook
  • Sous Chef
  • Food Preparation Manager
  • Dietetic Technician
  • Private Cook/Private Chef
  • Food Therapist
  • Brewmaster
  • Private Chef
  • Nutrition Educator
  • Catering Chef
  • Food Service Manager
  • Corporate Chef
  • Wellness Manager
  • Chef Dietician
  • Sommelier
  • Executive Chef
  • Product Development Chef
  • Hospital Chef
  • Sports Nutritionist
  • Spa Chef
  • Private Dining Chef
  • Weight Loss Specialist
  • Hotel Manager
  • Cooking Assistant
  • Restaurant Manager
  • Food Scientist
  • Line Cook

Job Growth & Career Outlook in Culinary Arts

Culinary arts is a growing field and job opportunities are plentiful and varied. This is due to an increasing population and a growing trend among Americans for trying new and interesting foods and cuisines. Because the career paths of a culinary arts degree holder are many, the average salary depends entirely on field and position, the median salary for chefs and head cooks is approximately $40,500 per year.

If you are interested in a degree in culinary arts, you may also be interested in a degree for baking and pastrymeat cutting, catering, food science, nutrition, or restaurant management.

Top 15 Culinary Arts Associations

  1. American Wine Society (AWS)
  2. North America Sommelier Association (NASA)
  3. Research Chefs Association (RCA)
  4. Seafood Watch
  5. American Cheese Society (ACS)
  6. International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IHRA)
  7. James Beard Foundation (JBF)
  8. American Culinary Federation (ACF)
  9. The American Institute of Food & Wine (AIFW)
  10. Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)
  11. American Hotel & Restaurant Association (AHRA)
  12. International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP)
  13. Les Clefs d'Or International (LCOI)
  14. Slow Food
  15. Women Chefs & Restaurateurs (WCR)

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Career Summary: Culinary arts Major



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