The Head of the Table: Culinary Arts Degrees

For many students, loving to cook wasn't enough. They had to learn more and use that knowledge to season and cook delicious and gourmet cuisine. The road to becoming the head cook or chef in a restaurant requires a culinary arts degree in most cases. These are highly prestigious degree programs with multiple years of on-the-job training and technical learning that allows them to prepare award winning dishes, entrees, desserts and even entire restaurant theme cuisine. Whether you earn a degree from a culinary arts school, four-year college or technical school, culinary arts degrees provide all types of topics that are necessary to becoming head of the table. Topics also cover a myriad of subjects that pertain to restaurant management, sanitation, food supply management and even international cuisine. You can earn degrees at varying levels of difficulty, taking an associate's degree to bachelor's degree, and even a master's in culinary arts. How far you go depends on your motivation to cook and become one of the world's leading chefs.

Some Facts on Chefs

Chefs can work in a variety of environments, from top kitchens around the world to private households. Chefs frequently have incredibly busy schedules, working from morning to late evening, opening and closing their restaurants, and they also will work weekends and holidays. Chef life is hectic and requires strong communication, guidance and leadership skills. As for pay, top chefs can easily make over $70,000 a year, but most average around $45,000.

Curriculum for Culinary Arts

Coursework for culinary arts majors revolves around practice and technique. There are other courses that will be more about textbook and lecture knowledge, but mostly, it's about learning different approaches to food. Whether you want to learn classic techniques or you want to excel in pastry design, your education will largely depend on a basic set of skills in the beginning, then developing into specializations and what you really like to cook. Many chefs develop entirely new menus. Your courses will focus largely on American cooking, classic techniques, French cuisine, international cuisine, baking techniques, and cold food preparation. Textbook courses will teach you more about food supply management, safety, menu planning, food purchasing, nutrition and human resources, as these are integral to working in a restaurant or even owning one.

Careers for Culinary Arts Majors

Most chefs and cooks will earn technical degrees, becoming skilled in different areas in order to work as a sous chef, executive chef or even caterer. The specialization that you chose will also decide what you do with your education. For example, if you chose to become an expert in baking techniques and pastries, you may become a pastry chef or even a bakery owner. Others will go on to write cookbooks, become top chefs in the restaurant industry and make a name for themselves by working around the best kitchens and chefs in the world. Much of success for cooks depends on their dedicate to the craft and working at prestigious restaurants.