You’ve finished culinary school and hold your degree. Maybe you’ve managed to get and hold a decent job in a busy kitchen. Why do you need to keep taking more classes?
Professional development classes are designed for chefs who want a competitive edge in their career. These chefs want to learn something new – whether it’s a new cuisine they haven’t been exposed to as yet, a new method of cooking or even an agricultural or business process. Many culinary schools offer an advanced degree program as well as individual coursework to help chefs build their repertoire and advance their careers.
Classes may vary depending on the school and time of year, but most are focused in on advanced cooking methods, advanced specialties like pastry, chocolate or even sugar work, restaurant ownership and high level management skills. There are even tracks such as garden/greenhouse development and farm-to-table operations. It all depends on what your goals are and where your interests lie.
Continuing professional development is not simply to learn new skills, it also ensures you are remain passionate about cooking and competent in your profession. It shows you are interested in improving and learning all you can in your chosen field. It cinches your continued capabilities and keeps you up-to-date with the latest culinary trends and developments. You may need to learn about new safety procedures such as a new method for ensuring everything is properly sanitized or perhaps there are new laws that you (and your restaurant) are responsible for adhering to now or in the near future. Maybe you are considering expanding your menu to include a new type of cuisine, or you want to expand and open a spinoff bakery. If you don’t continue learning, the currency of your skills and knowledge becomes obsolete and out-moded.
For chefs, the quality and level of your education can directly relate to your success in your career. It can result in an increase in pay, additional responsibilities and even a promotion. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a professional with a Master’s degree and/or advanced training will make an average of $200 more per week than their coworkers. And who doesn’t want to earn more money? Professional development is the most effective strategy to achieving these goals. The pace of change in the field of culinary arts is faster than it’s ever been, and a smart chef knows they need to keep up to retain longevity.
Experience is a great teacher in the kitchen, but professional development can help you stay interested and vested in your future. New training and education can open you up to not only to new skills and education but to new opportunities as well. Additional professional education can make you more effective in your workplace, and assist you in continuing to make a meaningful contribution to the rest of the team.
Continuing education can be fun as well as educational. Many courses are done in a classroom or kitchen setting, but many can be done online as well, on your own time. There are even a handful of distance courses that can be completed on your own time, at your own pace.
There are many different kinds of classes – and they aren’t limited to strictly cooking. Business classes are imperative for a burgeoning chef with goals of management or ownership, as well as marketing, advertising and administration. But there are many others as well! Perhaps accounting would be a necessity for your career path. Maybe you have a particular interest in gastronomy and want to take classes on the different gelling agents or spherification. Sous-vide is trending now – perhaps your restaurant wants to offer cooking under vacuum as a specialty. Or it could be that your path might lead you down the agricultural road with an interest in in-house farming, gardening or farm-to-table operations. In some instances, restauranteurs are partnering with local schools to provide education to young students. These partnerships come with their own educational, certification and licensing requirements.
If you have an interest in professional development or continuing education, contact your local community colleges, universities or even adult education programs. You can also contact your culinary school alma mater to see what types of courses and programs are available, as well as the schedules and costs. Typically financial aid departments can point you toward financing options, scholarships and grants for advanced degrees and coursework. In some instances, employers will reimburse you for this type of education, and it can also be a tax deduction for the year, as well as the cost of travel and supplies.
Whether your reasons are to increase your marketability, further your goal, increaseincome potential, or perhaps you simply want to become an expert, the necessity and responsibility for continuing education is a lifelong one.