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Getting Started in the Booming Culinary Field

“The table is a meeting place, a gathering ground, the source of sustenance and nourishment, festivity, safety, and satisfaction. A person cooking is a person giving: Even the simplest food is a gift” – Laurie Colwin

What is the job outlook for chefs and head cooks?

A quick search on Indeed.com results in over 1,000 culinary jobs in the state of Georgia. But Georgia isn’t the only state experiencing a growth in the culinary industry. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a nationwide growth of 10 percent in positions for chefs and head cooks. This represents a faster-than-average growth for culinary jobs when compared to other career fields.

While entry-level culinary jobs are available, the best (and highest-paying) positions require some form of culinary training. The median pay for chefs and head cooks is $43,180 per year or $20.76 per hour—a significant amount higher than the salary of other positions which do not require formal education.

Without formal training, cooks can expect to make closer to $22,850 per year. This is a difference in $813,200 over the course of a 40-year career.1

With such rapid job growth and potential for high earnings, someone with a passion for cooking and customer service could have a very rewarding career in the culinary field.

What are typical job duties for chefs and head cooks?

While many pursue culinary jobs because of a passion for cooking, there are many other important duties expected of the top chef in a kitchen. Daily job duties vary depending on the job, but common duties include:

  1. Ensuring that ingredients are fresh
  2. Supervising food preparation staff and coordinating the activities of each staff member
  3. Creating new and exciting recipes and determining presentation
  4. Planning the menu
  5. Inspecting the supplies and facilities to ensure cleanliness and safety
  6. Hiring and training staff
  7. Ordering supplies and maintaining inventory
  8. Ensuring proper sanitary practices and standards are followed

With so many managerial duties, it is easy to see why most employers require that candidates have formal education in the culinary arts. Education ensures that chefs have both excellent cooking skills, and also the skills needed to organize, manage and lead a busy staff.

What type of training is available for culinary jobs?

Helms College offers two distinct training programs. The Culinary Arts Diploma is designed to be completed in just 44 weeks, preparing students for careers as line cooks or kitchen managers. Eighty percent of students who complete the Culinary Arts Diploma obtain employment after graduation.

After earning their diploma, many students go on to complete their Associate in Applied Science in Culinary Arts degree. This degree is designed to prepare students for the highest level of culinary jobs, including executive chef, sous chef and restaurant manager.

Skills obtained in the Helms College Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts degree program include:

  • Chef training
  • Technical and theoretical knowledge
  • Practical applications of cooking
  • Baking and serving
  • Management skills

In addition to these skills, graduates receive training in the basics needed to help run a successful business.

What makes Helms College different?

The culinary arts program at Helms College is unique in that we give our students the opportunity to put the skills they have obtained in the classroom into practice through a required externship.

Edgar’s Grille and Edgar’s Bistro are both located just off campus. Students work alongside experienced chefs and managerial staff to learn the ins and outs of the restaurant industry. When students graduate from Helms College, they not only have the degree but also the experience needed to move their resume to the top of the stack.

Is this program right for you?

If you have a passion for cooking and the ambition to turn your passion into a career, the culinary arts program at Helms College may be perfect for you.

The next step to beginning your career is to apply today! The application takes just minutes to complete. Our admissions and financial aid departments are standing by to answer any questions you have regarding admission requirements, special needs, funding, and housing.
In less than one year you could have a Culinary Arts Diploma or be well on your way to obtaining your Associate in Applied Science in Culinary Arts degree! The best time to start is now!

1. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/food-preparation-and-serving/chefs-and-head-cooks.htm