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What does it mean to study culinary arts?

For those interested in following a career in the culinary arts, there are two paths they can choose between. One method is to go through on the job training. There is plenty of unskilled work available in kitchens, restaurants, fast-food outlets cafeterias, and school kitchens. Entry-level positions such as kitchen porter or dishwasher will be unskilled and usually low paid.

Students of culinary school or culinary institute will be taught a range of skills and gain lots of practical experience. In most cases, this allows the successful student to bypass the unskilled entry-level positions available to their less well-educated colleagues learning on the job. Positions available might include Sauce Chef, Short-order Cook, Fast-food Cook, Food Preparation Assistant, or Vegetable Cook. These jobs involve a large amount of preparation work such as vegetable peeling. Further training and practice is necessary if the individual is interested in becoming a Head Chef, opening his or her own restaurant, has a view to teach or a desire to specialize in a certain area e.g. Patisserie.

Employment opportunities for a culinary career, in general, are good and look set to increase in certain areas. With the aging population, demand for table service restaurants and other eateries is increasing; and it follows that jobs available for these types of more highly trained chef will do likewise. For the same reason, it is expected that there will be a decline in fast-food outlets and the requirement for short order cooks.

Other career information which is of interest is hours and pay. Most workers work on shift systems; frequently including weekends, evenings, and early mornings. To cover mornings and evenings these shifts are often ‘split’ i.e. the cook or chef will be expected to work for several hours at the beginning of the day, take several hours off and then return in the evening. Pay depends on the amount of skill and experience being offered, and on the exclusivity of the establishment. Fast food outlets pay approximately $7 per hour, restaurants about $9 per hour.

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