A chef certificate program, offered at many community colleges and technical schools, covers the basics of food preparation, presentation and sanitation. Many programs also offer internship opportunities with local restaurants, resorts and catering companies.
Prerequisites for chef certificate programs include a high school diploma or its equivalent, and some programs may require placement exams instead of SAT/ACT scores. Most certificate programs run for one or two semesters of study, and the purchase of knife sets, uniforms or other kitchen equipment may be required.
A chef certificate program teaches the fundamentals of food service, and many courses are offered in food labs and on-campus kitchens. In these courses, students develop cooking, baking, pastry, grilling and related skills. Courses allow students to work with state-of-the-art kitchen equipment and supplies and many are taught by professional catering and personal chefs. Common courses include the following:
- Food and beverage preparation
- Food sanitation and safety
- Nutrition and food processes
- Catering management
- Cooking and baking
- Dish preparation
Popular Career Options
With a chef certificate, students can seek entry-level positions with restaurants, catering companies, hotels and resorts. Many chefs specialize in a certain area of cooking, such as Mediterranean or Italian food. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many chefs begin their careers as line cooks and advance to various chef positions. Career options include:
- Personal chef
- Sous chef
- Kitchen manager
- Executive chef
- Pastry chef
- Chef de partie
Certification and Continuing Education Information
After obtaining a chef certificate, students can pursue additional certification to strengthen their professional qualifications. The American Culinary Federation (ACF) certifies chefs as Certified Executive Chefs (CEC). According to the ACF, certified chefs generally earn greater salaries than uncertified chefs (www.acfchefs.org). The United States Personal Chef Association (USPCA) offers certification for personal chefs, and the International Association of Culinary Professionals offers certification for all types of chefs. Chefs can also seek sanitation and food safety certification through government or private organizations and employers.
A chef certificate prepares aspiring chefs for entry-level positions in hotels, restaurants and other food service establishments. After receiving training in cooking and baking, general nutrition and food preparation and safety, graduates can go on to earn additional chef certifications for additional experience.