Chef training programs are typically offered by culinary arts academies, technical schools and career colleges, and may last anywhere from several months to two years or more. Programs are designed to prepare graduates to enter careers as chefs, cooks and head-chefs in culinary settings ranging from full-service restaurant and cafe kitchens, to hotel and other hospitality-industry kitchens. Students often pursue culinary specialties to seek more specialized positions.
Chef Training Environment
Students of culinary programs may learn in classroom settings as well as in kitchen environments, and usually a combination of both. In classroom settings they learn the theories behind cuisine, menu planning, nutrition and similar subjects, while in kitchen environments they learn and practice practical cooking skills.
Cooking Class Curriculum
Some of the theoretical and practical subjects taught in culinary school may include:
- Menu Planning
- Knife Techniques
- Preparation of Meats and Vegetables
- Herbs and Spices
- Soups and Sauces
- Inventory Methods
- Safety and Sanitation
- Portion Control
- Food Storage
- Waste Minimization
- Hospitality Administration
- Management Skills
- Culinary Internships
Many culinary programs include an internship or externship at an area restaurant. During an internship, culinary students employ their new cooking skills in a commercial kitchen setting, under the supervision of a certified chef. Internships and externships give students a means of gaining real-world experience, which they can use to find employment after graduation.
After graduation, chefs may choose to become certified by the American Culinary Federation. Chef certification is voluntary and not required for employment, though it provides a slight career advantage for certain types of chef. Pastry chefs, personal chefs, and culinary educators in particular may benefit from certification, though other types of chef can also benefit.
Here you can find more information on chef salaries and see a chef job description.