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How to Find Your Path in the Field of Culinary Arts

The culinary industry offers a wide variety of potential career paths. While you might hear the word “culinary” and assume that it pertains only to chefs, the truth is that there are not only many different jobs within the average commercial restaurant setting, but it takes a lot more than a chef to make a culinary enterprise succeed. Consider, for a moment, that a culinary student looking to become an executive chef may have to start out peeling vegetables before they can move on to creating sauces, cooking meals, assisting the head chef, and eventually running a kitchen. But a restaurant also needs and owner and a manager, and the more these people understand about the process of creating cuisine, the better they can do their jobs, so you might also be interested in restaurant management. Maybe you’re more interested in pairing alcohol with food, in which case you might want to become a sommelier. Or perhaps you prefer catering or running a bakery. The point is, there’s no shortage of career opportunities when it comes to the culinary arts. So how can you pinpoint the path that’s right for you when it comes to a career in the food industry?

There are a few things you’ll want to consider before you select a particular career to pursue in the field of culinary arts. First, you must thing about where your interests lie. For example, you might find the idea of planning a menu, playing with food options, and managing a kitchen staff exciting. On the other hand, the stress and pressure associated with becoming an executive chef (not to mention giving up your personal life in order to focus on your career) could be a bit overwhelming. In this case, a job as a restaurant manager may sound more appealing. Then you have to think about whether you like being in the front of the house, interacting with customers, or if you prefer to work behind the scenes. Taking the time to consider what is actually required from a particular job and being honest about what interests you could certainly help you to narrow down your career options.

You also need to assess your talents. You might like the idea of managing a restaurant, but if you have trouble communicating and you’re quick to anger, a position that requires you to interact with customers and act as the liaison between the kitchen and the front of the house may not be your best bet. And even though you love to cook at home, you might want to work in a kitchen if you’re no good at winging it when it comes to throwing together available ingredients and improvising a culinary masterpiece on the fly. A laundry list of food allergies could also set you back in this department. So it’s important to understand your limitations and plan accordingly if you want to be successful in your chosen career.

Finally, you should think about the many venues in which you might practice culinary arts. You don’t necessarily have to set your sights on becoming an executive chef at a 5-star restaurant. You could, for example, be a line cook in any number of restaurant settings. You could work at a sushi counter. You might take a job in a bakery making bread, pastries, and cakes. Or you could hire on with a catering company (or even start your own). With resources like you should be able to find schools, programs, and general information that can help you discover what types of culinary careers are out there and how to go about training for them. Deciding what you want to do in the field of culinary arts is just the first step on your path toward the rewarding career you seek.

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