Austin culinary arts students might only have one or two career paths on their minds, but once you finish school you’re qualified for more jobs than you might think. Everyone assumes people go to culinary school to become chefs. While graduates are qualified to become chefs, they might find that their culinary skills land them a job they never expected to have. Graduates could write about food full-time or become a food stylist, which is like being both a chef and an artist. Have you thought about pursing any of these careers?
Restaurants are the most obvious choice for people with culinary degrees. Most restaurants employ: an executive chef, at least one sous chef, several chef de partie (commonly called line and station chefs), cooks, prep cooks and then several other positions outside of the kitchen. Someone with a culinary arts degree is eligible for any of these positions, but you shouldn’t expect to land an executive chef position right out of school. Those positions are reserved for seasoned professionals. Most restaurant workers climb the ladder as they gain experience. It usually takes students some time to get used to the demands of a restaurant job, but once they do they should be able to move up the hierarchy.
Catering is another common profession for culinary arts school graduates. Catering can be similar to restaurant work, but it is usually larger orders and the work is dictated by events and festivals. Similar positions are available to the list of restaurant positions above. Recent graduates should expect to work and gain experience before moving up to higher, more prestigious positions.
Graduates of pastry arts programs can find work at a pastry shop, some grocery stores, hotels, fine restaurants and many catering companies. While these people will be working with the food they know and love, it’s still important they they gain as much experience as they can. They will often still have to climb the ladder in a similar way to other chefs. This usually means gaining a few years experience at a low-level position after graduation.
Some graduates prefer to go the personal chef route. Personal chefs work with select clients to create dishes they will thoroughly enjoy. Sometimes personal chefs will be required to travel with their clients – something many people see as a perk – and they are often tasked with creating meal plans and adhering to certain dietary restrictions.
People who graduate from culinary school who also have writing skills might pursue career as food writers. Food writers can work for online and print publications, such as newspapers and magazines. They also write food blogs, recipe books, memoirs, advertisements and more. Food writers often work on a number of projects and for a number of clients and companies over the course of their careers.
Food stylists are people who arrange food in beautiful ways so it can be photographed or displayed. Food stylists are really artists, but in order to be a good food stylist you need to know a lot about cooking. Graduates of culinary arts programs make great food stylists. Many people in this profession work as independent contractors, and although it can take some time to gain a reputation, it can be a very rewarding job.