Many of the most successful chefs working today started out as a line cook, which is a great way to establish yourself in the culinary industry and gain the experience needed to qualify for more prestigious jobs. Line cooks can often find work in professional kitchens, even if they do not have any formal education, because chefs and restaurant managers assume they can learn the basic skills on the job. Many high-end restaurants expect that even the entry-level food preparers have some level of culinary education, though, in addition to health and safety certification. The following information should shed light on the culinary arts programs that can qualify you for apprenticeships, food-preparing jobs and eventually, with experience, executive chef positions. Chances are that at some point in your career, however, you will be cooking on the line.
Education and Training
Line cooks don’t necessarily need to have formal training to qualify for jobs, but more education and training will open the door to more opportunities. Many line cooks have at least finished basic cooking programs or apprenticeships where they learned the following:
If you want to open up your career to even more opportunities, you will want to continue your education as you work. An associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree in culinary arts can raise your level of education, experience, skill and knowledge. Culinary arts degrees may offer the following types of specialized coursework:
Life after Culinary Arts School
Line cooks with basic cooking degrees or certificates can find employment in a variety of settings, including restaurants, cafes, bistros, bars, clubs, resorts, hotels, cruise ships, catering companies, hospitals, universities, government offices and other institutional settings. Some line cooks are also hired as personal chefs for private clients. Those who go on to work in professional kitchens can expect to be in a fast-paced and physically demanding environment where they are always expected to perform at the highest level of skill, efficiency and accuracy. The job requires the ability to work well with a variety of different types of people and personalities, as most kitchens have a wide range of staff members, from the executive chef down to the busboys.
The good news is that this industry is growing, so it’s a great time to become a cook or a chef. There are more than 12.8 million people employed in the restaurant industry in the United States, according to the National Restaurant Association, and the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that job opportunities will expand by 8 percent by 2018.