Educational Requirements for an Executive Chef
Students who want to become an executive chef in a restaurant, hotel or other food establishment can enroll in a bachelor's degree program in culinary arts. Students learn not only how to cook in this type of degree program but also how to manage food service establishments. After completing the program, graduates can obtain professional certification from the American Culinary Federation.
Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts
Bachelor's degree programs in culinary arts combine academic study and hands-on training in full-scale food service kitchens. Students are taught by professional chefs and trained in all aspects of the culinary arts, including nutrition, food safety and production. Chef training includes cooking classes in a number of international cuisines, including French, Italian and Asian, along with courses in baking, sauces, desserts and restaurant-style cooking.
Studies in hospitality management teach the fundamentals of hotel and restaurant management, including topics such as cost management, purchasing, inventory and financial management. Students complete internships at area restaurants or hotels, and many colleges have student-run restaurants on campus. This degree program does not have any educational prerequisites besides a high school diploma (or a GED) and satisfactory SAT scores.
Coursework will vary from school to school, but all degree programs in this area of study will cover the fundamentals of the culinary profession, from cooking to restaurant management. This degree program also teaches math skills, which are necessary for following and creating recipes and for managing the financial aspects of hotel and restaurant management. Other courses might include:
- Pastry arts
- Food identification
- Restaurant management
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), chefs and head cooks held 100,600 jobs in 2010, but this number is expected to grow very little between 2010 and 2020 (www.bls.gov). The salary of an executive chef depends on the food service establishment, with upper-scale restaurants paying significantly more than more modest establishments. The median annual salary for chefs and head cooks in 2012 was $42,480.
Continuing Education Information
The American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers professional certifications in 14 designations, including executive chef. To qualify for this certification, a candidate must have at least 30 hours of culinary training, three years of experience as a chef, a high school diploma and 150 hours of continuing education. Chefs must also pass a written and practical test to obtain executive chef certification.
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