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What Can You Do With a Culinary Arts Degree? 7 Cooking Careers to Consider

Nov 16, 2016 | Harrison College

What Can You Do With a Culinary Arts Degree? 7 Cooking Careers to Consider

You put your heart and soul into the kitchen at home, and sometimes you can’t help but envision what life would be like doing it full time. But you likely have a few lingering questions before officially taking your passion to the next level.

Could you really make a career out of your love of cooking? And is a culinary arts degree the way to do that? What can you do with a culinary arts degree anyway?

If you’re curious about how to turn up the heat on your cooking passion, keep reading to learn more about what a culinary arts degree entails and the exciting career opportunities it affords you.

The basics of a culinary arts degree

Culinary arts degrees don’t just cover cooking techniques. Yes, those are central to the education of any budding culinary master. But culinary arts degrees expand well beyond that, covering a wide variety of topics, including nutrition, food safety and sanitation, food service purchasing, hospitality management and food service mathematics.

But at the end of the day, getting your hands dirty in the kitchen is what you really love. A culinary arts degree will prepare you to learn the fundamentals of everything from stocks and sauces to baking and international cuisine.

Cooking up a storm in the classroom sounds pretty appealing, but what can you actually do with a culinary arts degree after you graduate?

7 careers for culinary arts degree holders

Despite what you may assume, there are a handful of career paths for culinary arts degree holders to follow. It’s true that many work and thrive in the food service industry. But others may work in hospitality roles, grocery stores, colleges and universities, hospitals and even casinos or cruise ships.*

Keep reading to learn more about what some of these culinary professionals do on a day-to-day basis.

1. Chef

Chefs, sometimes called head cooks, direct food preparation and supervise food preparation staff. These professionals are essentially the bosses of the kitchen, developing recipes and planning menus.

Chefs order and maintain an inventory of supplies and monitor the freshness of ingredients. They hire and supervise cooks and inspect equipment and work areas. They must also ensure sanitation practices are followed.

2. Cook

Becoming a cook is one of the most common options for culinary arts graduates. Cooks often work in the kitchens of restaurants or institutions. Some kitchens will have distinctions between prep cooks, line cooks and others. They work under the direction of chefs and with teams of kitchen staff to prepare and cook food.

Cooks handle and store ingredients in the kitchen and ensure their freshness. They also weigh, measure and mix ingredients. Cooks bake, grill, fry, boil and steam all varieties of food. They’re responsible for cleaning their work areas and sometimes arrange and serve food.

3. Personal chef

Personal chefs handle similar duties as other chefs, but they are typically self-employed. They prepare and serve meals to private parties and households. These professionals work with clients to develop menus based on culinary preferences and dietary needs.

Personal chefs may prepare meals ahead of time for their clients to eat throughout the week or they may work on a meal-by-meal basis. Personal chefs prepare meals in clients’ homes or at event venues for special occasions.

4. Food service manager

Sometimes known as kitchen managers or assistant managers, the food service manager directs and coordinates those preparing and serving food. They manage the daily operation of restaurants and other establishments, hiring, training and overseeing all employees involved in food preparation.

Food service managers order food and supplies, inspect equipment and ensure food safety standards are met. They investigate and respond to any complaints about food quality or service. They also schedule staff, manage budgets and regulate food quality.

5. Caterer

Caterers prepare meals remotely and often serve large crowds at weddings, fundraisers or corporate events. They meet with clients to discuss and agree on menu items and how food is presented at events.

Caterers must create contracts and keep records of their business agreements. They also need to develop menus based on client needs and preferences. They prepare, cook and serve large amounts of food, all while complying with food safety practices.

6. Food stylist

Every restaurant menu, advertisement or cooking show features colorful, immaculate images of delicious dishes. These pristine plates are the work of a food stylist. This culinary professional is responsible for preparing dishes for photographing or filming.

Food stylists use a variety of tricks to amp up the appeal of these dishes, like using chemicals to create steam or alternative cooking techniques to maximize color. These professionals often work with marketing companies, magazines and television cooking shows or are self-employed.

7. Food scientist

Food scientists conduct research in order to create or improve food processes that ensure public safety. These professionals can work strictly in research and development, or in regulatory, processing or quality assurance areas.

Food scientists focus on the technical and chemical aspects of food, studying everything from food packaging and preservation to how foods smell and interact with one another. These individuals are typically employed with food manufacturers or laboratories associated with universities and research facilities.

Now you know …

The kitchen is where you thrive — so why not make a career out of it? You can see there are a variety of opportunities out there in the culinary world; it’s all about finding the best fit for your future. By mastering cooking techniques and learning the ins and outs of the food service industry, a culinary arts degree can help you to cook up the career of your dreams.

It’s time to take your career dreams off the back burner. Learn more about how we can help you take your culinary passion to the next level in our article: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Chef’s Academy at Harrison College.


* (Analysis of 24,241 culinary arts job postings from Oct. 1, 2015-Sept. 30, 2016).

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