The category of Culinary Art, although widely considered to be associated with the act of cooking, also entails a vast array of professions associated with cooking, management, safety and day-to-day procedures in establishments that prepare food.
This word encompasses a wide category. A cook or chef has varying responsibilities and/or expertise, depending on the establishment or qualifications.
Executive Chefs and head cooks are often used as interchangeable terms. An executive chef, however, usually has more expertise, better training and has created a name in the culinary field.
An executive chef controls every aspect of a kitchen, sometimes many kitchens, usually in hotels or large 5 star dining establishments with multi locations. The executive chef oversees the planning of the menus, the purchasing of supplies and food, employment of the kitchen and wait staff, etc.
There is usually a sous chef, who is right under the executive chef and acts as the chef’s right hand. The sous chef acts in the executive chef’s absence.
A chef de cuisine is the head chef in a single kitchen of a multi-location establishment.
A Personal chef oversees the running of the kitchen in a private residence. The private chef buys the groceries, prepares the meals and keeps the kitchen clean and sanitary. The dietary needs and wants of the family are the most important factor for the private chef.
Research chefs combine science with culinary skills. They develop new food creations or formulas and experiment with taste and eye appeal of products. Research chefs also test new equipment for restaurant chains, food processors and growers, marketing companies and manufacturers.
Institution cooks prepare large quantities of food in such places as hospitals, schools, or prisons. Each meal is usually limited to a small choice, but large quantity of an entrée, a side vegetable and a dessert.
A short-order cook, or fast-food cook, works in a fast food or diner type setting, where quick preparation and speedy delivery is warranted. They grill hamburgers, fry potatoes or chicken, usually in large batches that are kept warm for immediate delivery when ordered.
Food preparation workers
Working under a chef or cook, the food prep worker does the mundane food tasks such as cutting vegetables, preparing ingredients for use, fetching utensils for the chef, washing the dishes and scrubbing the pots and pans. They also grind meats, strain sauces and assemble salads. Anyone desiring a job as a professional chef, the food prep worker is where the dues start getting paid.
A culinary art curriculum
The American Culinary Federation is the most prestigious and sought after certification in the culinary world. With the fast progression in the field today, having accreditation is nearly a must for any would be chef. Training programs from a certificate to a four-year degree are increasing to meet demand. The AFC certifies more than 100 training programs and supports many apprenticeship programs around the United States. Most of their programs are geared toward the high-end restaurant industry and include programs in:
- Advanced cooking techniques
- Cooking for banquets, buffets and parties
- Cuisines and cooking styles from around the world.
Students in formal culinary training will learn:
- Knife handling techniques
- Safe food-handling procedures
- Proper use and care of kitchen equipment
- Menu planning
- Portion control
- Purchasing and inventory methods
- Proper food storage procedures
- How to minimize waste with leftovers
- Sanitation and public health rules pertaining to food handling
- Food service management
- Banquet service
- Computer accounting and inventory software