Culinary Careers: Preparing to Work in a High End Restaurant, Hotel or Spa

Culinary Jobs that fit your personality

So you like to cook, you've got a flair for creative presentation, you're a great multi-tasker and the idea of working in hospitality has always appealed to you. Maybe you even have a few food service jobs that appear on your resume. Now the question remains: should you pursue a degree in culinary arts? What types of career opportunities are out there? Below you'll find an overview of positions typically available in the restaurant and hospitality industry.

"Back of the House" positions include but are not limited to:

Food Preparation Worker. These are the entry-level positions of the chef's kitchen. Food preparation workers handle tasks such as washing, peeling, and cutting vegetables and fruits; keeping supplies stocked; managing oven temperatures; weighing and measuring; grinding and slicing meats, and keeping the general area neat, clean and organized.

Chef de Partie.
The chef de partie, or line cook position, is a step down from sous chef. Line cooks do the actual preparation of meals in fine restaurants. Many establishments employ the use of a head line cook, who divvies up tasks between a line of lower chefs who carry out orders as they are shouted.

Line cooks are typically organized by food type - such as sauce chef who resides over sauces, stews, sautees and hot hors d'ouevres, roast cook or rotisseur, fish chef (poissonier), and pantry chef (chef de garde manager), or preparer of cold dishes such as salads, terraines, and cold desserts (in the absence of a pastry chef).

Pastry Chef. This is a position that was more commonly held by women in the past. In a similar fashion as the chef de garde manager described above, the pastry chef oversees a space that is set back from the main kitchen area. Pastry, soufflee, flan and other items require gentle handling and do not bode well in the company of clanging pans, abrupt movements and shouting as is common in the main part of the kitchen. Not every restaurant employs its own pastry chef.

Sous chef. "Sous chef" is French for "sub chief." This type of chef works directly beneath the executive chef, serving as a "right hand man or woman" of sorts. The sous chef manages the kitchen alongside of, or in the absence of, the executive chef. Responsibilities include menu planning, costing and inventory, overseeing of kitchen staff members such as assistants, line cooks and food preparation workers. In some cases, the sous chef may divide his time between overseeing things in the back, and making the rounds to ensure that dining room guests are pleased with the food and service.

Executive Chef. This title refers to the first chef in command - the person at the top who oversees all the other chefs, assistants and kitchen workers. Many world famous restaurants are owned by executive chefs - for example, most people have heard of Nobu Matsuhisa, who co-owns Nobu New York in Tribeca, with Robert DeNiro.

"Front of the House" positions include but are not limited to:

Maitre d' Hotel. Most people are familiar with the shortened form of this title, which is simply maitre d'. This person is responsible for divvying up sections of the dining room for servers to assume responsibility over, greeting and seating guests, booking reservations, attending to customers, managing complaints, and making sure that everything is functioning in an efficient and satisfactory manner. Some establishments refer to this position as the headwaiter, captain, or dining room manager.

Restaurant Manager. This position requires a good balance of business sense, interpersonal, and planning skills and quality control, as well as the ability to coordinate multiple roles and manage staff effectively. The restaurant manager handles everything from budgeting, planning and analyzing, coordinating menus, monitoring sales and profitability, overseeing restaurant staff, supervising kitchen shifts, marketing, recruiting and training.

These are just a few examples of the many rewarding, fast-paced and creative jobs available in culinary arts. If you have attended, or plan to attend, a culinary arts institution, you won't believe the exciting career options that are available to you in this vibrant and ever-growing industry.

Want more ideas for your job search? Read our article on Culinary Career Job Hunting Tips.

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