Training Schools for Chefs and CooksOf all the cooking shows, perhaps Kitchen Disasters best demonstrates the need for chefs to undergo training. In Kitchen Disasters, world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay travels to failing American restaurants to pin-point what needs to be done to save them. In some cases, the situation's so bad, Ramsay shuts down the place.
Fast-track chef training could teach you skills that could potentially help you avoid such kitchen disasters.
Culinary Arts Training: The Quick Route
Although there's much to be said for 2- and 4-year culinary arts training programs, you can learn a lot on the fast-track. Short-term programs generally range from 5 weeks to 18 months, including:
• 5-week Externships
• 6-week Baking/Pastry Making Certificates
• 1- to 3-month French Cooking Programs
• 6- to 9-month Total Immersion Programs
• 15-month Accelerated Culinary Arts Associates
While you won't likely jump out of these programs into a head chef position right away, that wouldn't be likely even if you earned a bachelor's in culinary arts. Training programs are invaluable for teaching must-know culinary skills, but you'll need to combine training with restaurant experience to work your way up. And this is a good thing. Jumping in to a position which is over your head is a sure way toward kitchen disaster.
Once you begin work, you can return to school to further fine-tune your cooking skills if you choose. Short programs offer a great way to get you into the job for less time and money.
What Will Culinary Arts Training Teach You?
While programs vary in focus, the following chef skills are minimal:
• Kitchen appliance and knife proficiency
• Menu planning and portion control
• Food storage
• Nutrition and sanitation
It also helps to know about food/equipment purchasing and restaurant management. If baking is your thing, you should learn about pastry making, breads, cookies, pies, and possibly sandwiches, salads, and stocks.
Good fast-track programs don't neglect essentials in order to save time. Therefore, programs tend to be intense and fast-paced, and require total commitment. It will be vital for you to not miss externship hours, and to complete tasks on time.
Training to Jobs: Culinary Arts Careers
Your fast-track program will not only teach you necessary skills; its intense, fast-paced environment will help prepare you for a career that is also intense and fast-paced. As celebrity chef Todd English puts it: "I liked the energy of cooking, the action...I often compare the kitchen to sports and compare the chef to a coach."
Although "kitchen coach" is usually not an advertised restaurant job, the following entry-level positions can help you use what you learned in training to advance in your career:
• Prep cook
• School/hospital cafeteria cook
• Family restaurant cook
• Catering assistant
• Assistant fine-dining chef
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, median 2009 salaries for chefs and head cooks were $44,240. Positions closer to entry-level paid less. While no training can guarantee you a certain job or salary, earning chef training might help you find success and avoid disaster.
Chef training school to become a working chef.
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