Some people eat to live, while others live to eat. If the latter part of that sentiment resonates with you, it may be a sign that a career in the culinary arts is on your horizon.
"Food preparation and management can be a true art form. Blending flavor profiles, discovering new recipes and ingredients, and crafting exquisitely unique dining experiences requires a balance of natural taste and skill with careful business preparation and savvy." explains William Pacalet, EHL Associate Dean for Practical Arts
Culinary arts have the ability to bring people together while changing the face of hospitality and offering a fun, fast-paced career for hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide. If you're considering exploring this rapidly growing $1.3 trillion dollar industry, here is a brief overview of the most common careers.
Chefs are one of the most visible and common career paths for people interested in exploring the culinary arts. Head chefs, sous chefs, and the teams of highly trained food preparation specialists that support them are the very lifeblood of the restaurant industry. Generally speaking, chefs have the ability to craft the menus in their restaurants, make recommendations about the types of food that are purchased, and influence the vibe of their dining establishments. Many times, they also have freedom to choose their staff and overview operational management of their restaurants. Some chefs also have the ability to branch out to create cookbooks, present cooking shows, and take part in other franchised assets.
"EHL's Master Class in Culinary Arts program does not prepare for Chef positions per say. However, all students are initiated to the art of preparing, cooking and presenting food. When entering this industry, these specific practical skills and knowledge can go a long way.” continues William Pacalet.
General managers and food service managers oversee the operational aspects of a restaurant or lounge. That includes handling budgeting, scheduling, human resources, publicity, on-site experience, training, and a host of other responsibilities that support the daily upkeep of their restaurant. They often work closely with their chef, as well as a variety of community and business partners who can drive their business forward. Although chefs traditionally are considered the more creative-minded of the two, good food & beverage managers also understand and have the power to orchestrate various creative elements such as ambiance and entertainment in order to augment a menu.
“Restaurant management isn’t for everyone. At EHL we prepare our students for the frenetic pace and constant pressure it requires. From balancing the needs of staff to dealing with unforeseen customer demands, efficiently running a restaurant requires daily attention and dedication.” clarifies William Pacalet.
Entrepreneurs and restaurant owners are the intersection between the business savvy of food service managers and the creativity of chefs. They often have a background in finance and may have connections to venture capitalists and investors who can help fund their business. They take a birds' eye view of the entire business and often have the most skin in the game when a new restaurant opens. If you want to be your own boss, have a serious passion for the culinary arts, and are ready to take the plunge, this is an incredibly liberating and demanding option.
“If you want to embark in the food entrepreneur adventure, make sure you have a clear mission. It takes time and patience to learn about food. Restaurants require laser focused attention 24 hours a day. Navigating through challenges will be easier if you have the right business and practical knowledge, and you will be better able to enjoy the many highs of this career” carries on William Pacalet.
There are many roads that will lead you to culinary arts. Hospitality management schools, specialized culinary trainings, and one-on-one mentorship with a chef or hospitality manager are just some of the many ways to get your foot in the door. No matter which path you choose, the most important thing to remember is that practice makes perfect. Take internships and get your hands dirty. Experience is one of the single, most valuable assets employers and investors consider when fostering new professional relationships.
"In the culinary arts, there's something for everyone. It's one of the most challenging, rewarding and creative focus areas within the hospitality industry." concludes William Pacalet