For individuals seeking a life in the art of food, culinary programs provide information about the chemistry, preparation, skills, and knowledge to become a professional contender in the career of cooking. According to industry professionals, if you want to become a professional chef, it is critical to attend a culinary school – and one may be right in your city, at your local community college.
The Rewards of a Culinary Education
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the culinary and food industry accounted for approximately 3.1 million jobs in 2004. By 2014, it is expected that culinary careers will grow faster than the average for all other occupations.
With a background education from culinary programs, many individuals are able to bypass the lower-skilled positions in a kitchen, while moving more quickly up the ladder towards status as a cook or chef.
Culinary programs provide insight into the important elements of being a successful chef, such as menu planning, nutrition, health regulations, inventory management, and portion control. Also, since culinary programs tend to be hands-on, students are able to gain experience—and sometimes are even provided with internships—which help foster professional experience and connections to job opportunities.
Award Winning Culinary Programs at Community Colleges
Grand Rapids Community College, Michigan
With a stylish on-site restaurant featuring appetizing menu options, Grand Rapids Community College, and its Heritage Restaurant, have been gaining rave reviews and acclaim for its educational opportunities, and delightful dining experience. According to The Galavanting Gourmet, Grand Rapids is “a community college program like no other - easily rivaling some of the world's best culinary schools, with world class faculty all stars in their field.”
With eleven teaching kitchens and state of the art facilities, The Galavanting Gourmet even boasts of Grand Rapids Community College being among the top ten of culinary programs in the country. Offering fun electives such as ice carving, students can hone their skills in aesthetics, while also working on maintaining their own pesticide-free hydroponic garden, which produces ecologically friendly, organic food.
As students practice their skills in the kitchen, patrons at the on-site Heritage Restaurant are served an “elegant haute cuisine meal at a fraction of what it would cost at most fine dining establishments of its caliber. Restaurant chefs and wait staff earn credit towards a degree in culinary arts, culinary management and/or baking and pastry arts.” Most notably, while the food is prepared by teaching chefs and culinary students, the restaurant itself is run entirely by students in the Grand Rapids Community College Hospitality Education Program.
With approximately 65 to 70 graduating students each year, 99% of students are hired into the workforce immediately upon graduation—and sometimes even before graduation. With two year Associate of Arts degree programs in Culinary Arts and Culinary Management, and a one year program in Baking and Pastry Arts, students are provided with an enriching and diverse education. For more information, visit the Grand Rapids Community College website, available at http://www.grcc.edu/
Kapi‘olani Community College, Hawaii
Offering an incredible culinary program, accredited by The American Culinary Federation, Kapi‘olani Community College “continues its strong tradition and leadership in providing Hawaii and the world with skilled culinarians knowledgeable in Asian and Western cuisines, and state-of-the-art pastry arts.” Settled in the beautiful backdrop of Hawaii, students are provided with real-world experiences, and they are prepared and challenged to become critical thinkers in the culinary field.
Excelling in its internationalizing food service program, Kapi‘olani aims to blend various techniques, influences, and traditions of Asia and the Pacific, while also adding classes styles of European flair. With ten modern kitchens for practice and study, a 130 seat auditorium for demonstrations, and various on-site restaurants, banquet rooms, showers, lockers, and other amenities, students are able to learn in a full-service atmosphere. The teaching faculty from around the world includes award-winning chefs, along with food and beverage experts. To find out more information, visit Kapi‘olani’s Culinary Website athttps://www.kapiolani.hawaii.edu/academics/programs-of-study/culinary-arts-program/
South Seattle Community College, Washington
Winning awards at various state and national competitions, students at the South Seattle Community College Culinary Program are able to learn in a highly reputable environment. Consistently earning a top ranking, The National Restaurant Association has provided rave reviews of South Seattle as an esteemed program for culinary training. In fact, since 1994, South Seattle’s culinary students have received more gold medals for cold food and pastry categories and hot food categories than any other culinary school in the region. Offering programs in Culinary Arts and Pastry, the on-site full service restaurants and student dining venues allow students to learn the art of cuisine preparation through public service and special event dining. Learning about theory and with real experience, students are provided with unsurpassed culinary experiences, competition venues, and guidance.
Also, to deepen students’ understanding of the culinary arts, South Seattle also offers two Food and Wine education programs. Students can enroll in the “Wine Technology Program,” where certificates of Associate and Applied Arts Degrees can be earned in the disciplines of wine making, food and wine pairing, and wine marketing and sales. Or, as another option, students can enroll in the International Sommelier Guild Certification Courses. As South Seattle describes, “The International Sommelier Guild is the premier wine-knowledge resource center focused on helping you meet your wine and spirit needs through providing tailored expert teaching and consultation.” To discover more, visit South Seattle’s Culinary Website at https://southseattle.edu/programs/wine-studies
If you are an aspiring executive chef, or want to open your own restaurant, beginning your education at community college will powerfully prepare you for a culinary career – while still ensuring that you have enough money saved to invest in your professional dreams.