For aspiring chefs, many roads lead to the professional kitchen. In this post, a new cooking school with a grand old name is announced, and a no-nonsense, comprehensive book spells out a whole range of culinary careers and how to get your foot in the door.
Born in 1846, the legendary Auguste Escoffier changed the course of culinary history, modernizing and codifying centuries of French cooking traditions and extending the fame of French cuisine throughout the world. In the early 20th century, he was France’s pre-eminent chef.
Besides changing cooking, Escoffier forever changed the job status of chef, elevating it to an honored profession—not just for himself, but for every chef who followed. And now he’s having an impact on food and the business of cooking again, through his great grandson Michel Escoffier.
Monsieur Escoffier is president of The Auguste Escoffier Foundation, dedicated to perpetuating the memory and great achievements of Escoffier as well as furthering the culinary knowledge and expertise of chefs around the world. We recently met him at an event in Chicago. He was in town partly for a signing of the long awaited English edition of his great grandfather’s memoir, Auguste Escoffier: Memories of My Life. This edition was faithfully translated by Michel’s late wife Laurence. He was also here to announce the launch of the Auguste Escoffier Schools of Culinary Arts. To do so, he has joined forces with Chicago-based Triumph Higher Education Group to develop the next generation of culinary education.
One stumbling block for would be chefs has been the often high tuitions charged by culinary schools. The Auguste Escoffier Schools of Culinary Arts will offer an intensive accelerated program at an affordable tuition (about half that of many schools), focused exclusively on classical culinary training. But just as Auguste Escoffier updated and modernized professional cooking in his lifetime, so will the school that bears his name. Programs will combine online interactive delivery with hands-on practice with top professional instructors and will include farm-to-table sustainable cuisine, entrepreneurship, technology and wellness as integral parts of the curriculum.
To get its schools up and running, Triumph has already acquired The Culinary Academy of Austin in Texas and the Culinary School of the Rockies in Boulder, Colorado. Building on the success of these boutique culinary schools, Triumph plans to transition them to the Auguste Escoffier Schools of Culinary Arts, pending necessary regulatory approvals. The company is actively looking for additional school locations in other cities throughout the United States, including Chicago.
Building a culinary career by the book
Many home cooks and most food bloggers have fantasized about opening their own restaurants. But owning a restaurant—or for that matter, being a restaurant chef—aren’t the only paths to a culinary career.
Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food with Advice from Top Culinary Professionals makes that clear right on its cover. There on the chef’s toque, you’ll see a dazzling array of other opportunities—bar owner, food stylist, private chef, restaurant publicist, cheesemaker, line cook, caterer, food truck owner, kitchen designer…
Author Rick Smilow is president and CEO of the Institute of Culinary Education, so he knows a thing or two about the subject. And in addition to his own sage advice, he offers interviews with 89 food professionals—David Chang, Thomas Keller, Gale Gand and Daniel Boulud among them, but also many lesser knowns and even unknowns who make a living with food. They talk about their training (often minimal), their typical days, what they like most about what they do, salaries and more.
Culinary Careers is a great resource for anyone considering a career in food, striking a perfect balance between recruitment poster and a splash of cold water in the face. And it’s a wonderful voyeuristic look into that world for those of us who know we’ll never make the leap, but still enjoy dreaming.