Educational Requirements for an Executive Chef

A bachelor's in culinary arts can give aspiring executive chefs the knowledge base and experience necessary to excel in their desired profession, as they will gain culinary skills and an understanding of the business aspects of operating a restaurant and kitchen.

Essential Information

Students who want to become executive chefs in restaurants, hotels or other food service establishments can pursue a bachelor's degree in culinary arts. These programs not only teach students how to cook, but also how to manage food service establishments, as they will explore business elements like financial and inventory management and purchasing. Academic study is combined with hands-on training by professional chefs in full-scale service kitchens over all aspects of the culinary arts, including nutrition, food safety and production. Students will also gain experience while completing a required internship at an area restaurant, hotel or student-run eatery on campus, which many colleges have. For admission, applicants are expected to have a high school diploma or equivalent, and satisfactory standardized exam scores.

  • Program Levels: Certification and bachelor's
  • Prerequisites: A high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) equivalent and appropriate Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores
  • Other Requirements: The completion of an internship for graduation

Bachelor's in Culinary Arts

Coursework varies from school to school, but all degree programs in this area of study will cover the fundamentals of the culinary profession, from cooking to restaurant management. Additionally, mathematics will be an aspect of curriculum, which is necessary for following and creating recipes and the financial elements of hotel and restaurant management. Other topics may include:

  • Gastronomy
  • Pastry arts
  • Food identification
  • Confections

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for chefs and head cooks will grow at a rate of just 5% over 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). While the salary of an executive chef depends on the scale level of the establishment where they work, the mean annual wage for these professionals was $45,880 in May of 2014.

Continuing Education Information

The American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers professional certifications in 14 designations, including executive chef. To qualify for this certification, a candidate must have at least 30 hours of culinary training, 3 years of experience as a chef, a high school diploma and 150 hours of continuing education. Chefs must also pass a written and practical test.

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