Which kitchen position is right for you?
The culinary arts offers career options that are appealing to many people. Cooking jobs require hard work, including being on your feet for hours at a time, but the time can fly by because the work environment is so fast paced and exciting. Jobs in the industry rarely get boring because they constantly offer new challenges and new ways to be creative.
There are many job positions available in the culinary arts. Job responsibilities vary widely, so almost anyone can find one that fits their own unique personal talents. Jobs are available in restaurants, of course, but also in cafeterias, catering companies, hotels, resorts, hospitals, private homes and even on cruise ships.
Larger restaurants and hotels divide their kitchen into specialized departments, with each department assigned the responsibility of preparing a certain kind of food (such as salads or desserts). If this doesn’t appeal to you, maybe you would prefer to work in a small restaurant where you’ll have the opportunity to use a wide range of skills and be a "jack of all trades."
Some of the most common culinary positions include:
- Chef de Partie (includes pantry chef, saucier, tournant and more)
- Executive Chef
- Master Chef
- Personal Chef
- Sous Chef
The responsibilities of a chef or cook vary depending on the position held. For instance, an executive chef must take on a much greater management role than a commis chef or a chef de partie, including supervising the kitchen staff (although this duty is often deferred to someone else, since the executive chef can’t be present in the kitchen all the time). The executive chef is also responsible for the artistic aspect of cooking, including creating recipes for new menu items.
Most kitchens have several duties that are shared by nearly everyone on staff. These may include:
- Ordering food ingredients and kitchen equipment
- Preparing food to order
- Garnishing the food prior to it being served
- Keeping the kitchen clean
- Keeping records of inventory
If this sounds like the kind of work that you are interested in, then maybe a job in the food service industry is right for you. With the solid foundation of an education from a culinary arts school, there’s no limit to how far a motivated individual can progress in this exciting field.