Culinary Career Comparison

Culinary Career Comparison

In culinary arts and sciences, chefs, cooks, and food service workers of all kinds work together to receive, prepare and present food to their customers. Throughout the United States, more than two million people are employed in the food service industry, in 550,000 different operations. Because of the specialized skills needed, more and more employers are seeking college-trained professionals. Recent federal reports are showing that food service workers will provide the most job openings of any type of occupation over the next ten years.

For entry level food service, an employee needs skills in food safety and sanitation, food preparation, knife skills, knowledge of a wide variety of foods, and understanding and ability to operate very specific (and sometimes dangerous) equipment. In addition, workers need reading, writing, basic math skills and interpersonal communication skills, as well as practicing good personal hygiene.

For advanced culinary positions such as executive chef or manager, the individual would need all the previous training, as well as management experience, leadership, human resources, marketing, costing and inventory. Chefs need to be able to design an entire menu that appeals to the customer and enables the restaurant to remain profitable. Chefs manage the back-of-house (kitchen) employees. Managers are responsible for supervising all the front-of-house staff and dealing with customers directly.

All culinary staff need to be organized, be able to endure long hours on their feet, work as part of a team and be able to handle a lot of pressure to perform quickly and accurately.

An executive chef is in charge of the kitchen. Everything that goes in or comes out of the kitchen is the responsibility of the executive chef. It is imperative that the chef remain in control of the kitchen at all times. The executive chef must be able to remain cool head and recognize and resolve problems quickly and efficiently. The kitchen should run like a well-trained team, everyone knowing where they belong, and the chef should be able to delegate when appropriate.

The executive chef ensures that dishes are served on schedule, and they approve all plates before they leave the kitchen. If any problems arise, the chef is responsible for resolving them quickly and accurately. The executive chef is also responsible for inventory, ordering, menu/dish creation, hiring/firing of kitchen staff and reporting regularly to the owner.

A pastry chef is an early riser. Typically these chefs start work very early and end their day before noon. Most pastry chefs work under the executive chef, but in some larger establishments, there is an executive pastry chef as well.

The pastry chef is primarily responsible for creating desserts. Very often, the executive chef will coordinate with the pastry chef to plan menu items, plate desserts during service, and can even be responsible for dessert wines and beverages. This chef also prepares and adheres to a budget, submits orders for supplies and maintains inventory and researches and develops new recipes. In some restaurants, the pastry chef is responsible for overseeing the preparation of baked goods as well.

A baker is responsible for making breads, pastries and a wide array of other baked goods. This type of chef needs to start work very early in the day and work during the hours that most other people are sleeping. The job duties and skills required vary greatly depending on the environment and company. In a smaller bakery, the baker would perform most of his work independently or as part of a small team. Production would be by hand, or countertop and sometimes floor mixers. In a larger commercial bakery, bakers rely on large equipment to do the preparations.

A bakers duties include measuring and mixing very specific amounts for recipes. Baking is an exact science, and often measurements are done in minute increments via scale. Doughs are formed and shaped specifically according to the recipe. Items are baked and then decorated.

Bakers work on very exact schedules and tight production times. They must diligently pay attention to amounts and timing, and still be creative and consistent. Because it’s often a solitary position, bakers must be self-motivated and disciplined.

Restaurant manager’s job descriptions vary depending on the place of employment. For larger or high-end facilities, there is an executive chef who manages the kitchen and all its components. In a smaller restaurant however, the manager would assume many of the managerial tasks such as inventory, ordering and staff management.

The restaurant manager always deals directly with the customers. They maintain budgets, records and payroll and sometimes are responsible for accounting as well. Managers hire and schedule staff, arrange for maintenance and cleaning, meets with sales representative and suppliers and double checks all deliveries to ensure the products are fresh and the right quantity.

Managers also monitor the conduct of staff and patrons to make sure that health and safety standards are met and that the restaurant is always completely compliant with health codes and liquor enforcement regulations.

The restaurant manager must be well organized, maintain an even temperament and have and advanced knowledge of business operations and personnel management. Excellent communication skills are mandatory, as are customer service skills.

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