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Culinary Arts Vs. Restaurant Management: What's the Difference

The culinary arts are a category of professions that involve preparing and cooking food. Culinary artists often are compared with restaurant managers in both education and career scope. Generally, the three major differentiating factors for culinary artists and restaurant managers are the specific college programs, the type training and experience involved, and the actual duties associated with each job.

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Program Differences

One of the major factors in which restaurant management careers and culinary arts careers differ is in the educational program to get there. Culinary art programs focus on building exceptional preparation and cooking skills while restaurant management programs focus on administrative tasks. An associate of science culinary arts program may contain content in nutrition and sensory evaluation, American cuisine, international cuisine and meat science.

Management programs, in contrast, focus on educating individuals on how to operate the restaurant from a business management perspective. A restaurant management associate of science program may contain courses in food and beverage control, front office management, hospitality management and hospitality law.

Management Training and Experience Differences

Another major factor that differs between both careers is the amount of experience and training required for the jobs. Managers for starters, almost always need extensive training and experience in the work field. The reason for this is two-fold: additional manager responsibilities and making sure a restaurant image is desirable. The image of the restaurant is often tied to how well the manager can make the staff, customers and food suppliers work together effectively.

Culinary artists, on the other hand, often have ranges of experience and training. Sometimes, chefs and cooks are only responsible for a certain aspect of the food preparation, such as slicing meat or stocking ingredients. It is important to note that while higher-tier chefs (such as executive chefs) may share some of the restaurant manager's responsibilities and training, the scope of this duty is commonly restrained to the kitchen.

Differences in Duties

Finally, general responsibilities between culinary artists and restaurant managers further separates the two careers. Managers in particular have many special administrative duties that cooks and chefs may not have. The hiring, firing and interviewing of potential employees, for example, often lies within the manager's responsibility. In larger restaurants, these administrative duties are often spread out among a management 'team' comprised most often of the executive chef and general manager.

Culinary artists, in comparison, rarely need perform the administrative tasks in the restaurant. Generally, administrative tasks are reported to the general manager or executive chef and staff work in conjunction. In some instances the staff may have input some administrative facets, such as new cooking policy implementations.

Career Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), food service managers can expect a 3% decrease in employment opportunities from 2010-2020 and chefs and head cooks would see a 1% decrease. Additionally, the BLS reported that food service managers earned a mean annual salary of $52,580 in May 2012, whereas chefs and head cooks earned an average of $46,570, annually.

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