Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Baking and Pastry Arts
- Catering and Restaurant Management
- Chef Training
- Food Preparation
- Food Server and Dining Room Mgmt
- Institutional Food Worker
- Meat Cutting
Those seeking a diploma program in gourmet cooking may consider programs in culinary arts. Culinary arts diploma programs can be completed in about 12 months, and internship experiences are typically an integral part of these programs. Graduates may seek voluntary certifications available through the American Culinary Federation.
Culinary Arts Diploma
The curriculum of a culinary arts diploma program often includes extensive coursework followed by fieldwork. This practical experience might be gained in a restaurant kitchen, catering company or corporate dining room, depending upon individual career goals. Additionally, food topics, such as sauces and pastries, might be grouped into modules and discussed at length over a certain number of weeks. Common classes include:
- Baking and pastry
- Food history, basics, and cooking methods
- Ethnic cuisine
- Knife skills
- Kitchen safety and sanitation
- Recipe writing
Popular Career Options
Gourmet chefs create new recipes, prepare food and oversee meal preparation in professional kitchens. They must meet sanitation requirements and maintain a high level of quality.While a job as head or executive chef in a restaurant is one career aspiration for graduates of a gourmet cooking or culinary arts degree program, there are also entry-level positions available, both in and out of the restaurant environment. Additional career options include:
- Sous chef
- Personal chef
- Restaurant owner
- Private caterer
- Food writer
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The chefs and head cooks category, which includes sous chefs, executive chefs, personal chefs and private chefs, was projected to see a 9% increase in job opportunities from 2014-2024, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). However, individuals with previous cooking experience, along with business skills, may see continued job growth. Chefs and head cooks earned a median salary of $41,500 as of May 2015, according to the BLS.
A 4% increase in job growth was predicted for the BLS' general cooks category for the 2014-2024 decade. Private chefs saw a median salary of $26,300, while restaurant cooks had median salaries of $23,100, as reported in May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
Continuing education opportunities include gaining an associate's or bachelor's degree in culinary arts, food service management or baking and pastry arts. Chefs also can seek a number of certifications through the American Culinary Federation (www.acfchefs.org). Certified Culinarian, Certified Sous Chef, Certified Chef de Cuisine, Certified Executive Chef and Certified Master Chef are among the designations available for professional chefs; each requires a combination of education and experience. ACF also offers certification for personal cooks, including the Personal Certified Chef and Personal Certified Executive Chef designations.
Diploma programs in the culinary arts provide the skills needed for aspiring gourmet chefs to enter the food service industry. Often lasting 12 months, these programs often include hands-on internships in a food service establishment.