While there are a number of ways to enter into the field of catering without a formal education, because there is so much competition the market for caterers, going into a culinary program following high school can be advantageous for students. For those who are interested the business side of catering, students should consider taking a program in event planning.
Culinary programs are often offered by culinary institutes or community colleges. Depending on the content covered in the program, it can range from a one year program to a three year program. Some schools may focus more on a certain type of cuisine, while other programs will also focus on the management of a culinary/catering operation. As a result, please make sure you research thoroughly on the program that interests you the most before you apply.
Below are some of the courses which students can expect to take from a culinary arts management program:
• Baking and pastries: Students will learn about some of the basic baking techniques used in making pastries. They will have an overview of the common ingredients used in baking, the measuring techniques as well as combination of ingredients which serve a purpose in tying the final product together.
• Asian cuisine: These courses will touch on the different types of Asian cuisine and how food plays a role in the culture. They will also learn about the different cooking techniques which are unique to Asian cooking.
• Latin America cuisine: Students will learn about the ingredients used in Latin American cuisine and the role which food plays in the culture. They will also learn about the cooking techniques which are unique to Latin America cooking.
• Classical European cuisine: These courses will cover the traditional European cuisine served throughout the continent and the classic techniques used to bring these plates to perfection.
• Menu management: Students will learn about the nutritional value of food and how that is taken into account in menu planning. They will also learn about some of the more common dietary requirements and learn to create a menu that is accommodating to various palettes and requirements without compromising on the quality or the taste.
• Service management: For students who are looking to manage their own catering business or an establishment, they will be required to learn how to run a service-focused organization. They will learn about the different aspects of running the operation, including: resource planning, budgeting, staffing requirements and best practices to management.
• Food and beverage management: These courses not only cover the proper health and hygiene involved in the preparation and serving of food, but they also touch on the various factors which impact the overall catering business or restaurant.
A career as a caterer shouldn’t be judged lightly just because a formal education is not necessarily required. It takes a lot of tact, skill and know-how to run a service organization that caters to the tastes of today’s discerning customers. However, if you are a big picture thinker who has no shortage of creativity when it comes to planning an event to delight people’s culinary senses, then this is the career for you. Please contact your career counselor or your local culinary school for more information.
1. Culinary Arts Management. The Art Institute of Seattle. http://content.artinstitutes.edu/assets/documents/seattle/catalog-2014-2015.pdf