An enticing menu of training and employment options available to career seekers in the culinary arts.
A passion for food, a flair for cooking and a creative personality are all that’s required to begin an education in the culinary arts.
Careers in the culinary arts offer a wide range of employment opportunities, locally, nationally and internationally. From cooking in a neighbourhood family restaurant, to serving up banquets for hundreds at hotels and entertainment centres, employment possibilities for graduates are endless. Jobs for culinary arts grads are also available in resorts, cafeterias, hospitals, cruise ships, catering companies and more.
With so many different aspects to culinary arts including preparation, presentation, nutrition and food knowledge, courses and programs vary from province to province and incorporate local products and food trends.
Many colleges and institutes have on-site restaurants, bake shops, meat shops and other student-facilitated enterprises that provide real-life experience in a learning environment so graduates are ready for immediate employment.
Courses do not only include instruction in food preparation. Students will also learn about rules and regulations in the industry and workplace safety. Some programs even offer CPR and First Aid certification as well as instruction in handling hazardous chemicals.
To enjoy a fulfilling career in the culinary arts industry anyone considering employment in this area should have good hand-eye coordination, manual dexterity and be in good physical condition as hours are often long and kitchen staff are usually on their feet for the majority of their day. Pressure in kitchens can often be intense, so a successful chef will have to be a team player and an effective communicator.
Salaries for chefs and cooks can vary quite greatly depending on place of employment and skills and experience. Starting wages for prep cooks are usually around $13-$14 per hour. A chef with experience can earn upwards of $50,000 plus per year. Formal education and certifications will definitely lead to higher wages. Chefs with business management education and experience are highly sought after by employers. Many chefs are also entrepreneurs, owning and operating restaurants and catering companies.
For aspiring chefs, colleges and institutes across Canada are prepared with the latest innovations in technology and a comprehensive knowledge of the industry to assist their students in following their dreams.
At Yukon College, their northern-focused programming incorporates cooking and baking classes with kitchen management courses and instruction on interpersonal skills. The eight-month certificate program provides culinary arts students with the opportunity to write the Apprenticeship Level I exam and the Level II Cooks exam and earn up to 1,040 hours of credit towards a Cook apprenticeship program.
In Ontario at Algonquin College, there are various certificate programs in the culinary arts including Bartending, Sommelier and Baking and Pastry Arts. Diploma programs are offered in Bakery and Pastry Arts Management and Culinary Management.
Calgary’s Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) has a two-year Professional Cooking diploma program boasting a 97% graduate employment rate and incorporating basic cooking techniques, menu planning and a charcuterie lab teaching the art of sausage making. The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton also offers a Culinary Arts program emphasizing safe food handling, sanitation and nutrition. Other courses include Purchasing and Financial Controls and International Food and Culture.
Red River College in Manitoba offers a two-year diploma program in culinary arts with an optional one-year certificate exit. The diploma course also provides two paid co-op work placement opportunities. Courses in inventory management, meat cutting, kitchen layout and design and human resource management are also included in this innovative program. The college’s 2016/2017 Graduate Satisfaction and Employment Report shows a 93% employment rate following completion of the diploma program.
Certificate and diploma programs in Culinary and Pastry Arts are offered at Okanagan College’s Kelowna campus. The 40-week Pastry Arts program will equip students with all of the skills they will need to obtain employment as a professional Baker. Culinary Arts students can choose between the 50-week certificate program and the two-year diploma program. Graduates of both programs will receive an apprenticeship technical training credit for Professional Cook Level 1 and Level 2.
In the Maritimes, Holland College in Charlottetown offers a two-year Culinary Arts diploma with courses that provide real-world business skills like computer, communication and cost control, combined with butchery, regional cuisine, and cooking and nutrition studies for a well-rounded education. Their one-year Pastry Arts certificate also teaches business and baking skills. Both programs give students a head start on gaining their Red Seal certification which allows graduates to gain employment anywhere in the country without having to obtain any further certification or conduct more testing.
The only two-year advanced culinary training in Saskatchewan is offered at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Saskatoon Campus. Their extensive hands-on programming includes instruction in catering and special event cooking, short order cooking, regional and world cuisines, and contemporary cooking and modern food trends. Graduates may be eligible for credit towards apprenticeship training.
Canada’s college graduates in the culinary arts continue to explore new opportunities for employment in the industry with a solid educational foundation instilled by industry professionals.
By Sharon Frederick