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Detailed Overview of the Top Culinary Careers in the Food Industry

26/10/2023

Are you thinking about getting a job in the food industry? Or maybe you already work in the food industry food but want a better job? Or do you just really love cooking and want to make it your career?

There are a lot of different food careers out there and we understand that it can be quite challenging to pick one. That’s why we have created this guide. We will help you find out what are the top culinary careers today. We’ll explain what you need to get hired, and what you’ll do every day.

Here are the top culinary careers that we will cover today:

Executive Chefs

An executive chef is a person who runs an entire kitchen at any food establishment (restaurant, hotel). Today, this is considered the most prestigious level in the culinary industry, as it is the highest position in the culinary hierarchy. Typical responsibilities of a executive chef look like this:

  • Manage kitchen inventory, order supplies, control food costs
  • Hire, train, schedule, and supervise kitchen personnel
  • Monitor kitchen sanitation and safety practices
  • Handle administrative duties like payroll and record keeping
  • Collaborate with managers on budgeting and cost controls
  • Create menus and prepare new dishes

This set of responsibilities can vary depending on the places where you will be working. But in short, executive chef is considered more as a managerial position.

Qualifications Needed to Become an Executive Chef

The qualifications that are needed to become an executive chef depend on where you will be working. For example, some establishments may require an executive chef to have a culinary degree. Others may hire only candidates who have worked several years as head chef or sous chef. So mostly employers are looking work people who have worked in the kitchen for over 5 years.

Aside from experience and education, an executive chef should have:

  • Excellent communication skills.
  • Ability to multitask.
  • Can handle a fast-paced work environment.
  • Knowledge of food preparation, ingredients, cooking techniques.
  • Problem-solving skills to troubleshoot kitchen issues.
  • Be up-to-date on current industry standards and trends.
Restaurant manager at work

Restaurant Managers

A restaurant manager is the boss of the front areas in a restaurant. Thanks to the restaurant manager the business works (or doesn’t) like a Swiss watch. In addition, this person is also responsible for providing excellent customer service. Here are some of the main tasks a restaurant manager does:

  • Hires, trains, and manages all servers, hosts, and other front staff
  • Listens to customers and solves any problems or complaints
  • Runs the day-to-day work like seating people, taking reservations, and tracking supplies
  • Looks at sales numbers and finds ways to make more money
  • Follows all health, safety, and liquor laws
  • Works closely with the kitchen to coordinate food service
  • Promotes and markets the restaurant to attract more customers

The manager’s role may be a little different based on the restaurant’s size and type. But in general, managers lead the front areas and keep everything running smoothly. Let’s take a look at what qualifications are needed to get this position.

Qualifications Needed to Become a Restaurant Manager

Many restaurant managers start by getting several years of hands-on experience in different roles like server, bartender, or supervisor. Having formal management training from a program can also help prepare you for overseeing staff and operations. Restaurants often promote strong performers into management roles.

To become a restaurant manager, you usually need:

  • High school diploma.
  • Experience working in restaurants, like being a server or host.
  • Strong leadership and management skills.
  • Be client-oriented.
  • Basic math and money-handling knowledge.
  • Ability to stay calm under pressure

In short, the most important qualities are leadership, organization, customer service, and a deep understanding of how restaurants work from the inside out.

pastry chef at work

Pastry Chefs

A fun and creative career, a pastry chef creates cakes, cookies, pies, bread and other delectable creations. While a pastry chef may work in a bakery, this is also a position that’s needed in restaurants, cafes, banquet halls, and more.

A pastry chef is responsible for preparing various different desserts and sweets. Their job may require them to come up with recipes on their own, or there may be a set menu that is followed daily or seasonally. A pastry chef will likely also be responsible for the next things:

  • Ordering ingredients
  • Ensuring the quality of the products
  • Keeping a clean and sanitary work area
  • Working closely with other chefs to maintain a successful work environment.
  • Training and overseeing other bakers and assistants

Qualifications Needed to Become a Pastry Chef

Many pastry chefs start out as bakers’ assistants or attend a culinary school focused on baking and pastry arts. From there, they work their way up to becoming the pastry chef through years of hands-on experience. Here are also some common requirements that employers are looking for:

  • Culinary training/degree in baking & pastry arts.
  • Previous experience working in a bakery or restaurant kitchen.
  • Extensive knowledge of baking ingredients, techniques, and equipment.
  • Creativity for developing new and appealing dessert recipes.
  • Time management skills to meet deadlines.
  • Specialty training or certification in areas like chocolates or bread baking.
Personal chef at work

Personal Chef

Working independently for clients provides a very interesting and unique job opportunity for those who are interested in being a personal chef. This career can be very lucrative, as the clients are often wealthy people who don’t have the time to cook for themselves.

A personal chef will work very closely with their client to determine what kind of meals or diet should be followed. Some personal chefs will provide three full meals per day on a regular basis, while others may simply be hired for dinner parties or events.

This position requires the ability to self-manage oneself, making sure that you’re staying organized with your clients, following deadlines and maintaining a high level of quality. You should also be up-to-date on this industry, so you know the appropriate prices to charge, what clients are looking for, etc.

Qualifications Needed to Become a Personal Chef

A high school diploma or GED will be required for a position as a personal chef. A client is more likely to hire you if there is additional experience and education brought to the table, such as a formal culinary education, certifications or ongoing training. Also, how well you are recognized as a chef and what establishments you have worked in before can play a big role.

Remember that you’re working for yourself and your clients. You should be able to communicate very clearly, stay organized with your schedule and budget your own business.

Chef consultant in a restaurant

Chef Consultant

A chef consultant is an extremely knowledgeable professional who is a valuable resource for other culinary business owners, restaurant managers and industry professionals. Their experience is shared with others for greater success.

Think of this job as a mentor. This can be a very rewarding job, as you get to help others. This is an excellent opportunity if you’ve worked in a fast-paced kitchen environment for many years and are ready to slow down a bit.

You may provide information on budgeting, ordering, the types of menus to create, how to properly train professionals you hire, the process of retaining talent, etc.

Qualifications Needed to Become a Chef Consultant

Working as a chef consultant typically means that you’ve started your career by achieving a culinary degree of some sort. You went on to work in a few different positions within the culinary world before you’re ready to pass your information on to others. You may have an area of expertise that you’re very knowledgeable about.

As a chef consultant, you may work for a company that provides these services to industry professionals. You may also work independently on a freelance basis.

Chocolatier at work preparing chocolate

Chocolatier

A chocolatier is someone who makes delicious chocolate candies and treats. Here are some of the main tasks a chocolatier does:

  • Creates all kinds of chocolate candies, truffles, barks, and bars.
  • Experiments with new flavor combinations and designs.
  • Tempers and molds chocolate using special techniques.
  • Packages and decorates chocolate products beautifully.
  • Ensures the kitchen stays clean and organized.
  • Orders high-quality chocolate and ingredient supplies.
  • May sell chocolates in their own candy shop or to retailers.

With skill and creativity, some chocolatiers become famous for their signature chocolate styles and flavors. The best chocolatiers make treats that are as delicious as they are beautiful to look at.

Qualifications Needed to Become a Chocolatier

There is a great deal of experience needed to become a chocolatier. You must have acquired a variety of skills through a culinary academy or working in the field. Here are the typical qualifications needed to become a chocolatier:

  • Training in candy making, or culinary arts.
  • Understanding of chocolate properties, tempering, and techniques.
  • Creativity for developing unique chocolate flavor combinations.
  • Physical ability to stand for long periods.
  • Knowledge of food safety practices.

Many chocolatiers start by attending a culinary school program focused on baking, pastry, or confectionery arts. From there, they improve their skills through internships and apprenticeships before running their own chocolate-making operation.

Sous chef at work

Sous Chef

Sous chef is the third (head chef is second) in command within a kitchen setting. A sous chef will take on any duties or responsibilities that cannot currently be handled by the head chef or executive chef. This is a well-paid and rewarding job in the culinary industry that many people want to achieve.

Some of the main tasks a sous chef does:

  • Supervises and manages the other cooks and kitchen staff.
  • Ensures food preparation follows the chef’s recipes and instructions.
  • Assists the chef in creating new menu items and specials.
  • Handles scheduling and assigning tasks to kitchen workers.
  • Oversees kitchen cleaning and food safety practices.

As you see, this is a supervisory role that guides other employees.

Qualifications Needed to Become a Sous Chef

Sous chefs work their way up after spending years working as cooks. Becoming a sous chef isn’t something that occurs overnight. It takes many years to accomplish this goal. Here are the requirements for being promoted to sous chef:

  • Culinary training or a degree will be a big advantage.
  • Several years of prior experience as a line cook.
  • Expert knowledge of food preparation, ingredients, and cooking techniques.
  • Familiarity with kitchen equipment and maintenance.
  • Strong leadership and management abilities.
  • Excellent communication and organizational skills.
  • Ability to remain calm and make decisions in a fast-paced environment.
  • Understanding of food costs and inventory management.
  • Knowledge of health, safety and sanitation regulations.

With experience, a sous chef may be promoted to becoming the executive chef.

Ready to Start a Culinary Career in the Food Industry?

Hopefully, this article has provided you with some valuable information on the different careers that are available in the culinary and food industries. There are all kinds of opportunities that you can work towards, even when you’re starting at a culinary academy.

If you’re ready to start a culinary career in the food industry and want to make sure that you have the knowledge and experience necessary to become successful, we encourage you to reach out to HRC Culinary Academy for more information. We have various culinary programs that fit your desired time in school and prepare you for different cooking careers. Spending a bit of time learning and developing your skills will make a big difference in your career on a long-term basis.

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