August 15, 2019


Chefs may be the rock stars of the culinary arts, but not everyone who wants to seek a career in the business of food feels at home in the kitchen. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of career paths that students with an online culinary certificate can pursue. From recipe developer to food-truck promoter to director of food at a national chain restaurant, the professional possibilities are endless for students studying at the Auguste Escoffier Online School of Culinary Arts.

1. Specialty food buyer

Specialty food buyers might work on behalf of restaurants, catering companies, grocery stores and wholesale distributors. Their job is more or less exactly what it sounds like: They help clients purchase any number of specific ingredients and food goods. In practice, this means they’ll need an extensive knowledge of food quality, as well as the ability to work within a budget. They may need to negotiate the pricing of goods and will likely need some analytical skills to help make strategic purchasing decisions based on inventory capacity and other business circumstances. One of the best parts about being a specialty food buyer is all the sampling. How else will you know if what you’re buying is the real deal?

2. Restaurant owner

Not just anyone can be a culinary entrepreneur. Starting a food-service business is a hands-on endeavor that requires a strong grasp on market demands (e.g., is there a want or need for the type of business in a specific location?), restaurant concepts, the costs of sourcing ingredients, health codes, business financing and much more. The National Restaurant Association anticipates $863 billion in sales for 2019, which means there’s plenty of opportunity for restaurant owners to get wealthy in an industry they feel passionately about. But you have to wear a lot of hats to be a culinary entrepreneur. The beauty of an online culinary arts program is that you get the best of both worlds – the creativity and craft of cooking, but also the business acumen needed to succeed in food business ventures.

Food critic is also on the table for culinary students.Food critic is also on the table for culinary students.

3. Restaurant publicist

A good restaurant publicist must be great at outreach and communications, and they need to be branding geniuses. However, they also need to understand the industry they’re in, and who’s who of the culinary world. But more importantly, they should know how a kitchen operates, and be culinary connoisseurs themselves. Simply put, it’s easier to generate excitement about a restaurant brand when you’re actually passionate about what they do. It’s also much easier to differentiate that brand if you have a strong idea of what’s already been done, and where that brand really parts ways with the pack.

4. Director of food and beverage

As restaurants expand and begin franchising, quality assurance and consistency across locations become a company imperative. A director of food and beverage – or equivalent position – may handle everything from participating in ingredient tastings from sellers to menu development, kitchen equipment purchasing, marketing efforts, branding and much more to create quality standards and uphold them across locations. The precise responsibilities will vary from company to company, but this much is certain: Anyone in this position will need a strong understanding of the culinary industry in order to succeed. While some of that comes from work experience, a culinary degree can greatly expedite that knowledge.

5. And much, much more

This article barely skims the surface of what’s possible with an online culinary arts certificate. For instance, we haven’t covered:

  • Food writer.
  • Publisher of cookbooks.
  • Nutritionist.
  • Culinary school instructor.
  • A judge on Top Chef.
  • Food-truck event planner (this is a real thing, according to Thrillist).

All and these, and more, are just some of the career opportunities afforded to online culinary students.