Written by Shirley Parker
Professional chefs have learned their skills working with and for more experienced chefs, as they earned their stripes in the food industry. Chefs of distinction have also undergone training at internationally recognized cooking schools, many of them well established now in the United States and Canada, as well as the traditional schools in European capitals. They work in upscale restaurants, esteemed hospitals, prestigious schools, private homes, and multi-starred hotels.
Full-time chefs may have participated also in educational programs from the Culinary Institute of America that was founded in 1946, or are members of the newer Professional Chefs Association (or similar), offering required courses for certification. Novice chefs can learn professional techniques from reading course books and cookbooks written by known names in the industry. However, certification is still desired before venturing into the commercial arenas.
Even Great Britain, with its long-standing lack of a gustatory reputation, has online job listings for professional chefs throughout the Isles. Traditional British food had been on the bland side, being prepared without much in the way of spices and herbs, for example. In today’s global village environment, all that has changed. People from many lands have immigrated to the UK, bringing their cultural and food tastes with them.
Professional Chefs and the Future
The U.S. Department of Labor foresees no lack of opportunities for chefs and other food industry workers throughout at least 2012. However, growth will not be the same in all specialties, so anyone contemplating entering the field should carefully study the Occupational Outlook Handbook. Competition at the best restaurants has always been fierce, so other options, such as catering and specialty food stores, should be kept open.