Obtaining a culinary certificate online can lead to rising through the ranks in a restaurant kitchen, but it also presents many other opportunities. Your training may allow you to open a catering service, start a food blog or find work at a hotel. You could also seek a career in corporate or institutional dining.
Cooking at a school, hospital or office gives you the chance to use your skills in an environment very different from a traditional restaurant. These jobs also offer plenty of room for growth and learning. Read on to find out more about why many chefs and cooks prefer a corporate or institutional setting and how you can prepare yourself to join them:
What it takes to join a corporate or institutional kitchen
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projected a growth rate of 6 percent between 2014 and 2024 for cooking jobs at institutions and cafeterias.That means there are ample opportunities for those who have the knowledge and abilities to prepare quality meals on a consistent basis. In addition, you will need a strong awareness of safe sanitation and serving practices.
“Food service companies employ chefs, managers and nutritionists.”
Some offices and institutions hire cooking staff directly. However, others operate through food service companies that employ chefs, managers and nutritionists to provide food and drinks to a variety of organizations. In either case, you’re likely to work more regular hours than in the often unpredictable world of restaurants.
Depending on where you find a job, you may be called upon to prepare a wide variety of tasty, nutritious dishes. For instance, changes in law have raised the standards for school lunches over recent years. The U.S. Department of Agriculture released guidelines calling for students to be offered fruits and vegetables every day, along with a menu of items that are low in fat and rich in whole grains.
Meanwhile, companies are increasingly offering their employees impressive selections inspired by fine dining restaurants. The San Francisco Business Times noted that technology companies in the Bay Area commonly offer greater stability and better pay than restaurants. These opportunities can make corporate kitchens highly attractive to trained chefs.
Finding your career path in the cafeteria
Many culinary professionals have built their interests into successful careers by taking on roles in institutional or corporate settings. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported on the path followed by chef Andy Mayeshiba. He worked as a corporate executive chef before moving on to travel the world training others in using kitchen equipment.
With additional training and education, chefs may also move into management positions in food service. Depending on the school district, medical facility or food service company, becoming a manager may require different levels of education and certification. However, a strong background in the culinary arts is always a help as these administrators handle the costs, logistics and personnel issues that arise in running a food service operation.
Your culinary academy education can take your life in many directions. Seeking work at an institution or corporate cafeteria may be the beginning of an exciting career developing high-quality meals in a variety of locations outside of the traditional restaurant.