While most people envision culinary-school graduates working in a restaurant, café or bakery, there are many alternative culinary jobs out there to explore. Whether you choose to take the traditional route as a chef or bring your passion for cooking to another food-related field, there are many options for culinary professionals.
If writing is another passion of yours, consider combining your skills to become a food writer. These days, food writing can be anything from becoming a food critic for a magazine or newspaper to publishing posts to an online publication, writing cookbooks or even starting a blog. Writing about food is a great way to publish your recipes, promote your culinary specialties and write about your passion. Even celebrity chefs cast their nets wide, writing cookbooks or blog posts or even tweeting about food when they're not in the kitchen.
If you work well with high-volume cooking, consider culinary jobs in catering. Getting an education in the culinary arts will build skills that can be applied to a business run out of a commercial kitchen or your home. Creating a rotating menu and trying out new dishes will allow you to see what your clients respond to, allowing you to build a successful brand around your specialty.
More interested in pastries and baking? Use your skills to break into the wedding cake business, open a cupcake-catering business or cater to a niche market like vegan or gluten-free baking. Owning a catering company doesn't always mean cooking for weddings, conferences or parties: You can open a pop-up shop, vend at farmers' markets or open an online storefront for your business.
Culinary arts graduates with a passion for working directly with clients may consider a career as a personal chef or nutritionist. You could make a positive change in your clients' well-being by developing healthy, delicious meals for their individual dietary needs. If your dietary plans go hand in hand with exercise or physical therapy, you may have the option to collaborate with personal trainers and medical professionals. Expanding your network of contacts will open new doors for your business as a chef and business owner.
If you're interested in the visual side of food preparation and think of food plating as an art, consider pursuing a career in food styling. Food photographers, film and television sets and event coordinators often enlist food stylists to work behind the scenes to create expertly crafted props and food displays. If you're interested in a fast-paced career and want to see your culinary creations in advertisements and magazines, consider learning more about a career in food styling. As you build your brand, you may find that you like working exclusively with one photographer, working as an on-site stylist for a company or applying your skills across the board as a freelancer.
Food Truck Owner
Thinking of owning a food service business but not interested in opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant? Running a food cart or mobile food business is a great way to get your feet wet when you're just starting your culinary career. Mobile food businesses like food trucks have swept the nation. Cities like Portland, Oregon, even have permanent food truck courts that cater to a variety of diners — omnivores, vegans, raw-food enthusiasts and average Joes.
A career in the culinary arts is all about doing what you love. If that means thinking a little outside the box, you may enjoy the flexibility of these alternative dining options, or they may be a stepping stone to a larger business goal.
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