What Are My Career Opportunities After Culinary School?

Possibilities abound, but preparation can be crucial in the culinary industry. That’s why it is paramount to understand your career path before receiving your degree from a culinary school so you can be confident in making the right long-term objectives.

Most job opportunities fall within two main categories: those inside or outside a restaurant. Restaurant jobs typically hold a hierarchical pattern where most begin their career in an entry level position and work their way up the ranks. Those who work outside of a restaurant can find themselves in a wide range of positions, and the most experienced people can aim for positions like a private cook or a research food scientist of a corporation.  When you leave culinary school, you should prepare for an entry-level positon.  Here, we’ll discuss positions that require extensive experience.

The executive chef, sometimes referred to the chef de cuisine, resides at the top of the ladder and is simply in charge of the kitchen and everything that relates to it. He directs the menu development, orders supplies, oversees all aspects of the staff, and may report to owners or higher managers.

The sous chef is considered the second in command and reports to the top chef. The rest of the kitchen staff answers to the sous chef who serves as the liaison to the top chef.  She is often found assisting with food preparation and taking over the duties of other line cooks or the executive chef when they are absent.

The chef de partie, also known as a line or station cook, does most of the cooking and is usually in charge of a particular area of the kitchen. Depending on the size of the restaurant, each line cook may oversee one or two cooks working at his station. Specialization under this category is broad and includes a sauté chef, a fish chef, a roast chef, a fry chef, a grill chef, a vegetable chef, a soup chef, a pastry chef and even a pizza chef.

Personal chefs and caterers tend to differ in the scale and scope of food preparation and implementation. Personal chefs have individual clients and either plan and prepare meals in private homes or do it off location for pick-up or delivery.  Caterers provide a wide-scale of food services from preparation to set up for either small groups or large events consisting of thousands of people.

Food stylists and food writers serve important functions in the food industry. Writers can contribute food-related articles to newspapers and magazines or help with the creation of a cookbook. Stylists are essential for the presentation of food in magazine spreads or television commercials.

Research chefs play an important role in testing new products and equipment for those companies involved with the production of food products. They can develop recipes, test new formulas, or experiment with the taste and eye appeal of food. A background in food science along with culinary expertise is essential for success.

As evidenced by the variety of jobs, this is by no means an exhaustive list of positions for those with the most experience in the culinary industry. However, the possibilities are endless and can easily fulfill the interests of those who have a passion for food.

This article is presented by Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Minneapolis offers culinary arts and pâtisserie and baking training programs. To learn more about the class offerings, please visit Chefs.edu/Minneapolis for more information. 

Find disclosures on graduation rates, student financial obligations and more at www.chefs.edu/disclosures.  Le Cordon Bleu® and the Le Cordon Bleu logo are registered trademarks of Career Education Corporation. Le Cordon Bleu cannot guarantee employment or salary. Credits earned are unlikely to transfer.