Culinary arts is the academic blend of craft, science, and business in the art of preparing and cooking foods. Culinary artists, or chefs, bakers, pastry chefs, dessert chefs and the like, are responsible for preparing meals pleasing to the palate in addition to the eye. Successful chefs, cooks and bakers will use the learned understandings in the application of science, diet and nutrition in the cooking process. Graduates can pursue careers in restaurants, delicatessens, hospitals, cruise ships, hotels and many other institutions.
Students of most culinary programs at traditional schools or specialized institutions will become professionals in the industry with focuses placed on management, leadership, finance, economics and entrepreneurship abilities. Graduates can aspire to become an integral resource in the kitchen by fulfilling many roles and responsibilities associated with culinary artistry. In the modern and traditional kitchen, the hierarchy of power is divided based on seniority. The four types of chefs are:
Chef de cuisine: Also known as executive chef or head chef is in charge of most things related to the kitchen including: menu creation, management of kitchen staff, ordering and purchasing of inventory, and plating design.
Sous-chef: The second in command in a kitchen, the Sous Chef is the direct assistant to the Head chef. The Sous Chef will often fill in for the Head Chef or the Chef de partie (the third in line) when needed. A sous-chef’s duties include conducting line checks and ensuring rotation of all food products.
Chef de partie: Also known as the ‘station chef’ or ‘line cook’, is in charge of a very specific duty in the kitchen. Each line cook will have several cooks working with them to meet desired goals and outcomes.
Commis (Chef): The basic chef, who normally is still in culinary school or recently graduated, works under the Chef de partie, while learning the functions of the specific and individual kitchen.
Culinary arts go beyond the dinner menu, with the expertise in bakery, desserts and food service opportunities. Bakers are responsible for baked goods, breads, bagels, muffins and so forth. Dessert and Pastry chefs cater to the sweet tooth, by specializing in cookies, cakes, éclairs, chocolates, fruits and anything else the dentist would recommend against.
Graduates of a culinary arts program will hardly dislike their career choice, cooking is a passion that is defined with a solid academic foundation to prepare students for the competitive future.