Embarking on a new career is fabulously exciting, especially when it’s in a passion area like the culinary arts! Culinary careers are great because they combine science, creativity, and hospitality. If you’re looking at starting a career in the culinary field, there are some important elements to keep in mind.
No matter how excellent a cook you may be, it’s usually a good idea to get some training under your belt. This is true of any career, however! While you don’t necessarily have to go to a fancy culinary school like Le Cordon Bleu, it would behoove you to investigate taking some continuing education classes or going through a program that will grant you an American Culinary Federation certification. To get certified through the ACF, you will need to know about a wide variety of preparation techniques (including knife skills!), food types, nutrition information, food storage, and even customer service! While it’s great to have your own specialty, you’ll want to be as well-rounded as possible. Not only will having a certification make you a great candidate for jobs, it will help you establish credibility if you want to run your own establishment.
If you’re working with equipment, there’s plenty to keep in mind! Hopefully your certification or training program has prepared you to work with all kinds of equipment (the ACF assessment includes questions about both large and small kitchen equipment), or, at least, know enough about different types of equipment to also know how to learn more. Depending on the restaurant type, traffic level, and food category, you may have to develop strong abilities with equipment. If you’re working in an Italian restaurant, you’ll need to know how to make pasta through slicing up noodles and also using a pasta roller. If you’re in a pizza kitchen, you’ll want to know everything about those industrial-sized pizza ovens. You’ll probably be trained by your specific kitchen, but it will always help to know ahead of time (and ahead of your interview, even) as much as you can about the techniques, equipment, ingredients, and potential recipes you’ll be using on the job.
Your own business
You may eventually want to start your own establishment: maybe a restaurant, cafe, or even a hip food truck! If you’ve had experience working in the foodservice industry for a while, you probably have a good idea as to what makes a business succeed or fail. Remember, even though you have expertise in your, well, area of expertise, you’re going to need to cover all kinds of bases in your own restaurant. This includes hospitality and wait staff, cleanup, building a kitchen to code, managing finances, decorating your establishment, and marketing your business! For some of these, especially the finances and marketing, you may want to hire an expert. Don’t be afraid to outsource a little! You want your business to run efficiently, so that you can focus on what you’re the best at and deliver an impeccable product to your customers.