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Whether you're looking to become a pastry chef, general chef, restaurant chef, hotel chef or restaurant manager, there will always be a market for culinary jobs, no matter how bad the recession gets. This is because people need to eat. People don't always want to go to the grocery store to get their food either. Sometimes we simply want to be served and not have to do any cleanup. Big cities, such as Dallas, New York and Chicago offer a large majority of the culinary jobs available. Big cities have more restaurants, more residents and thus, more culinary jobs. If you are looking to start a career in the culinary field you may want to consider relocating to a major metropolitan area, if you're not already in one.
When you register for culinary school you will be embarking upon a challenging, rigorous and highly rewarding journey that is not just a job, but a career. Culinary school will teach you the skills required to thrive and succeed in a restaurant setting. In culinary school students will not only learn how to prepare and cook decadent dishes, but also learn about proper cleaning of dishes and utensils and how to set a table in a restaurant or hotel.
Most culinary programs do not base the majority of a student's grade on quality of the dishes prepared, but rather on participation and knowledge of various aspects they've been taught in classes. In most culinary schools a student's grade is 50% participation, 30% knowledge (i.e. tests and quizzes) and 20% quality of the dishes prepared. This is simply because a student is not expected to be an expert chef while they are still in school. What the programs really want to see is that a student understands what they have been taught and is willing to actively participate in classroom discussions and even a few papers that must be written.
Students can also choose between various sub-fields within the culinary program. Many students choose to focus on pastry chef training, while others aim to become a general culinary chef. A general culinary chef can gain employment as a cook or chef in a typical restaurant. Obviously, as the name implies, pastry chefs will focus on scones, croissants, doughnuts and the like. Baking is another popular area of the culinary field. As a baking student an individual will learn to bake cakes, muffins, breads, etc.
There are a variety of certification levels a student can embark upon when entering culinary classes. The lowest of these levels is obtaining a certificate. A culinary certificate typically takes only a few months to gain and will allow a student to work in an inexpensive restaurant setting, as a line cook, dishwasher, busser or even main cook, in some instances and with the right experience. An associate's degree is one level up from this and will allow a graduate to gain employment as a line cook or low-level cook in your average restaurant. A culinary student who seeks out a bachelor's degree in culinary arts will be provided with nearly unlimited possibilities in this field. An individual with a bachelor's degree will have access to employment as a chef or head chef in nearly any restaurant setting, provided they have the right amount of experience. They will almost certainly have to begin as an assistant chef and work their way up, but the pay as assistant chef will already be better than being a head line cook with a certificate or associate's degree. Obviously a bachelor's degree takes more time, but it will be well worth the effort. Plus, in this economy, it's smart to gain the highest level of education possible if one is to compete with the other job applicants.