May 10, 2018

5 transferable skills you can learn in culinary schools

The skills you develop as you train to be a chef are vital for future success in the culinary world. Boulder culinary arts students should develop a strong understanding of how the abilities they hone in the classroom transfer to professional kitchens across the globe, whether related to the physical precision to make high-quality dishes or the mental resolve to lead a team and personally perform in a high-pressure environment.

Keep these five skills in mind as you start your culinary arts education and remember that you’ll learn many more throughout your studies.

Chef chopping herbs on a cutting board.Chefs learn a variety of profession-specific and general business skills in culinary school.

1. A classic culinary foundation and understanding

Current cuisine is built on the bedrock of earlier professional cooking. The work of our namesake, Auguste Escoffier, through his text “Le Guide Culinaire,” still inspires the organization, division of duties and execution of modern kitchens. By drawing on the time-tested recipes contained within “Le Guide Culinaire,” you will gain an understanding of the vital skills modern chefs use to prepare classic and current dishes alike. You will also enrich your knowledge of how to pair wine and foods, as well as cook with them effectively.

2. Time management and group leadership

Professional kitchens are exceptionally unforgiving environments, featuring incredibly short deadlines, demanding physical and mental labor and long hours. However, many students master these demands and go on to promising culinary arts careers. How do they do it? By developing strong time management, leadership and collaborative skills. The ability of several distinct individuals to work as one while in a professional kitchen is invaluable, and students cultivate such an ability as they progress in their culinary education. Similarly, students have opportunities to learn effective leadership skills throughout their classes.

3. Math and accounting

While much of the most difficult work in the moment comes when chefs are in the middle of an hours-long weekend dinner or Sunday brunch rush, long-term management of resources and funds are vital for the success of a restaurant. No matter how technically skilled a chef may be, a failure to properly order, inventory and manage ingredients, as well as control spending, will make it nearly impossible to advance professionally. Top culinary arts schools provide an education in the concepts of accounting and business math, as well as their many applications in the hospitality world.

4. Nutritional science

Understanding how to bring together many unique flavors in a new recipe and perfectly cook a dish are undeniably vital, but they’re only part of the broader grasp of food and nutrition that modern chefs need. Strong knowledge of nutrients, food sources and the human body’s ability to process them helps culinary arts students see the ingredients at their disposal as more than building blocks of a recipe. From creating balanced, nutritionally dense meals to developing effective alternatives for those allergic to certain foods, this aspect of professional cooking can’t be ignored.

5. Communication

Direct, effective communication is one of a chef’s most important tools. You must have the ability to share information with fellow chefs on the line, communicate adjustments to recipes and workflows, engage with the front of house and much more. At the same time, those in the culinary world must adhere to standards that direct how they communicate with colleagues and subordinates to maintain professional standards. Learning about the best strategies for hosting discussions, issuing orders and taking feedback ultimately lead to a kitchen that is more adaptable, communicative and successful.

These skills provide a foundation for student chefs that is incredibly important in the professional culinary and hospitality worlds. Make sure the culinary school you choose to attend offers an education involving every single one of these topics.