People who attend culinary school are trained in all the skills and subject matter necessary to prepare them for a satisfying career in the culinary arts or a related field. Job growth in this industry for head chefs is mostly expected in upscale arenas. The thriving population and income in many areas will lead to an increased demand for the high quality dishes found in expensive, trendy restaurants. At the other end of the spectrum, some restaurants are starting to use lower-level cooks in place of executive chefs to save on operating costs. This means that there will continue to be jobs of many different types for chefs. Sometimes employers lean more toward giving jobs to people who have many years of work experience, which is why it’s important for younger, aspiring chefs to earn a degree to make themselves marketable. Competition is fierce in high-end restaurants, casinos, and hotels – places where you’re more likely to see culinary experts with a particular specialty. Many schools offer students the opportunity to specialize in a particular concentration. If you have a strong sense of where and in what capacity you’d like to work, consider looking for a school that offers a concentration in that area.
Wine and Beverage
In many restaurants and hotels, the beverages – beer, wine, and spirits – drive profits. Concentrations such as these offer courses where students can learn about many different types of beverage and maybe participate in tastings or take trips to famous locations such as Napa Valley.
Students who have a special appreciation for local, fresh ingredients will appreciate this concentration. You might take classes that teach you the philosophy behind the farm-to-table movement, study the business models of successful chefs and restaurants practicing sustainability, and practice creating menus comprised of natural, locally-sourced ingredients.
Some schools may allow you to specialize in the cuisine of a particular area of the world, such as Latin America, Asia, Africa, or Europe. You will learn how to expertly cook traditional dishes and exercise creativity by putting your own twist on classic favorites. You might even get the chance to travel abroad! Concentrating on a particular region can make you especially marketable within restaurants of that type or in hotels in that part of the world.
In some schools, you can learn about the art of cooking alongside the science of nutrition. This specialty will come in handy for those who want to prepare food or council those with special diets. Such populations include vegetarians and vegans, children, the elderly, people with allergies, and athletes. Your studies will include not only nutrition classes, but also practice in preparing menus that stay within specific restrictions. Having this knowledge could make you more marketable in a world where more and more people have started following specialized diet plans.
There are many other concentrations too, such as baking and pastries, management, or accelerated degree programs. Take a look around at what is available to you, and if you find something that ignites your passions – go for it!