What Degree and Training are Needed to Become a Chef?

chef dA love and passion for food often leads future professionals in the culinary arts to consider options for what degree and training needed to become a chef that will create the best pathway into this exciting and delicious career. From community colleges to esteemed culinary institutes, future chefs can begin to gain the skills and experience that will catapult them to this increasingly in-demand field.

Trade Schools and High School Programs

For many future chefs, interest in pursuing this field as a career begins early, baking in the kitchen with grandma or helping mom and dad with dinner. Throughout the United States, there are programs that will help graduates move on to begin positions in kitchens of all types of restaurants, or build the fundamental skills to continue to develop in future educational programs.

In programs offered through intermediate school districts, students work with experienced chefs to prepare various types of foods using classical and modern cooking techniques. Many of these programs run full service restaurants, allowing for students to also learn about every facet of the business and gain valuable experience both in and out of the kitchen.

Colleges and Universities

Whether starting in a program before college or making the decision to enroll in a culinary arts program after graduation, future professionals can consider options in culinary arts degrees at the associate’s and bachelor’s levels. These programs include courses such as baking fundamentals, French techniques in cooking, the science of dish creation, and business management for restaurants. In a bachelor’s degree program, students will also complete additional general education and often focus more intently on the management side of the food industry.

In either program, it is likely that students will complete an internship, sometimes working right on campus in cafeterias, restaurants, or with instructors for entering competitions. This is helpful for gaining the training in practical application that will be valued by future employers.

Culinary Institutes

Future professionals who are interested in gaining the expertise needed to find positions in five-star restaurants might also consider choosing to complete a program in culinary arts through a post-secondary institution that is dedicated solely to food. In these types of institutions, students often major in pastry, savory, modern gastronomy, or another specific area of cooking or baking. This enables students to become specialists for when they are chefs.

On the Job Training

Most important to many employers is the amount of experience a chef has in the kitchen. This experience is likely to come in school, and it can also be the substitute for any type of degree. With enough experience under the right chefs, a future chef can learn all of the techniques, menu planning, and other elements of running a kitchen that will be sought after, according to  International Association of Culinary Professionals.

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Knowledge of cooking and baking techniques, preparing and creating a menu, and more are what set premier chefs apart. Planning the right degree and training needed to become a chef and excel in the field is the first step in being highly successful in the world of food.

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