January 2, 2023

Whether you’ve recently graduated from one of Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts programs or you’re just getting started in culinary arts, the new year is the ideal time to designate culinary goals and set them into motion.

Establishing culinary goals can help you stay focused during your studies or while searching for your first job in the food or hospitality industries.

Let’s get started with some simple questions:

  • What do you want to cook?
  • How high up the kitchen hierarchy do you want to climb?
  • What matters to you the most as you serve your guests?

Now let’s explore a bit deeper…

Consider Your Core Values

Taking the time to identify and understand your personal values and beliefs is just as important as the time you may spend honing your skills in the classroom or kitchen. Escoffier students can graduate with a range of competitive skills they can use in all sorts of culinary environments: Restaurants, food trucks, hotels, convention centers, and institutions…some even become personal or private chefs.

It’s important to realize that everyone might come to the table with different culinary goals. Some want to make their mark as culinary pioneers and run their own restaurants—happy to work unusual hours. Others desire to maintain a more stable income in a Monday-to-Friday job that provides the freedom to enjoy leisure or family time.

There’s no wrong or right path to follow; just make sure to identify your individual path by the time you graduate. You might pursue further education to specialize in a specific culinary niche such as plant-based cooking or decide to cook and travel…the possibilities are endless.

Keep in mind that your culinary goals and aspirations may evolve over time as your knowledge, circumstances, or opportunities change. Be open to that change—you may have a solid education to back you up on this journey.

Restaurant employee wearing black and white standing in front of a table holding a tablet

Restaurant employee pursuing culinary goals of working at a restaurant.

Make Your Culinary Goals Detailed

“I want to work in a five-star restaurant” isn’t a culinary goal, but it might be the makings of one.

What kind of restaurant do you want to work in, and where? Be specific about the style of cuisine, the location, and how long you intend to take in order to achieve that goal. Be sure your culinary goals are realistic. It might be effective to set the bar high for your career achievement but keep obvious limitations like finances, the ability to relocate, or family commitments in mind as you plan your future.

Patricia Souza, VP of Career Services at Escoffier“Our professional student services team is available to support our students in many aspects of their education and provide resources that enable them to focus on their educational goals as well as help them celebrate their successes throughout their program. Each student has a coach that can help support them and guide them throughout their time as a student at Escoffier.”*
Patricia Souza, VP of Student and Career Services

Experience Life Beyond the Kitchen

Don’t limit yourself to the kitchen when you’re building your foundation of knowledge. This is particularly important if you aspire to become an executive chef someday. Cooking skills are a must, of course, but it might be wise to also earn a food entrepreneurship degree or diploma, too.

You might find out if you have an aptitude for running your own restaurant—a new goal on your horizon if you have the intrinsic makings of an entrepreneur. You won’t know unless you explore that option through further education.

Chef Arnold Safari, Escoffier Online Graduate“Escoffier has helped me to achieve my goals. By the time I graduated, I was so confident to start my own restaurant during COVID.”*
Arnold Safari, Owner of Eat Zawadi Restaurant; Online Culinary Arts graduate

It might be beneficial to experiment with other styles of cuisine from other cultures. Testing your ability to adapt to a new culinary style might enrich your life and possibly reveal a new skill you didn’t know you had until you tried. It might make you a more versatile chef, as well, which may help with job prospects down the road.

Four people sitting and eating outside at an upscale restaurant

Testing out new styles of cuisine can help you with your culinary expertise.

Continuously Challenge Yourself

Dr. Edwin Locke wrote a highly informative paper in 1968 that addressed the concepts of motivation and incentives, and how they inspire action and growth. He suggested that the end goal isn’t necessarily the greatest motivator; it was the work itself that drove people to succeed.

How does this relate to setting your culinary goals? It might entice you to squash your fears to set lofty goals for yourself—like eventually working in a five-star restaurant. But it’s also just as effective to craft smaller goals. For example, figuring out ways to shave time off your mincing or chopping, or improving a dish you thought was too complex.

Challenging yourself with an everyday task you haven’t perfected yet gives you something to chase, even if that pursuit is simply refining a skill that might save you time and energy. You might reap greater rewards in your daily work life and grow as a culinary artist in this transformative process.

Other Factors to Consider When Setting Culinary Goals

When we constantly strive to achieve big dreams, this usually bolsters our personal and professional development. However, it’s just as pivotal to remain realistic and consider other factors that might come into play.

Stress

When you set those lofty career goals, you might put in extra time, grit, and effort to hit those major milestones. Naturally, you might feel a bit of stress creep in, but don’t fret—it’s part of the process. Remain intuitive with your body and have strategies in place to lessen the stress—such as meditation or yoga.

Once you feel that overwhelming sense of accomplishment, the path to get there will likely be worth it!

Luck

Don’t listen to people who say, “What a lucky break” or, “How great that you landed your dream job” as though you just stumbled into it. Instead, remember the words of Roman philosopher Seneca: “Luck is where opportunity and preparedness meet.” It’s vital to acknowledge how hard you worked to earn that break—you put in your time in school, then worked your way up the ladder to be where you are today. Celebrate that achievement!

Timing

Don’t apologize for your success. If you’ve put in the hard work at culinary school, then really hustled to secure an amazing opportunity right out of the gate, take pride in that achievement. On the flip side, don’t be discouraged if your first big break doesn’t come quickly. You may have all the tools you need to be successful down the road…patience is a crucial part of the process.

Complaining

It’s perfectly okay to complain about your “dream job” some days. It might be the toughest job you’ve had! You may feel pure excitement about working in your dream kitchen, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be “off” days when you question your direction.

Happiness

For all the stress, less-than-encouraging feedback, and hard days you might experience you may realize you’re happier than ever when accomplishing your culinary goals. Once you’ve completed your culinary education and endured a few tough jobs, you might feel a weight lifted off your shoulders when you finally hit your culinary goals.

Two chefs smiling and posing for a photo behind a counter with an oven and cooking utensils

Two chefs accomplishing culinary goals in the kitchen.

Establish Your Culinary Goals in 2023

Would you like to find out if a career in the culinary arts might be your “dream job,” or simply curious about Escoffier’s programs? Contact us today to get one step closer to accomplishing your culinary goals.The journey to your dream job might start here!

Did you enjoy this article? Then you’ll probably like these ones, too.

This article was originally published on February 8, 2016, and has since been updated.

*Information may not reflect every student’s experience. Results and outcomes may be based on several factors, such as geographical region or previous experience.