Two new paths to culinary careers

by Terry B on November 3, 2010

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.

escoffier-memoirMonsieur 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

culinary-careers-smilowMany 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.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Gina November 3, 2010 at 6:49 am

I love this post! Check out my blog about culinary schools.

Carol November 3, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Congratulations Terry – 4 years!
I love posts like this one. It’s hard to imagine what cooking must have been like as recently as 1900. ‘Am reading a memoir called Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson about rural life in Oxfordshire in the late 1800s. The poverty, lack of food variety and poor quality was truly shocking. Thanks lots.

altadenahiker November 4, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Escoffier, he da man. Actually, you both are. Happy 4th. Ever since I found you and Marion 2 years ago, I’ve been your faithful fan.

Terry B November 5, 2010 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Gina.

Carol, I just looked up Lark Rise to Candleford. It was published in 1945! So it gives us now a historical view of history. I’m off to the library website to order it. Thanks!

Thanks, Altadenahiker! That’s how we feel about having discovered your wonderful writing.

Carol November 5, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Terry-wait til you read about the once-year pig slaughter. Suffice it say we’ve come a long way.

Terry B November 6, 2010 at 1:14 pm

Carol—I actually have the vaguest memories of a pig slaughter when I was visiting relatives in Mississippi (although it may have even been a wild boar). I was four at the time. I suppose it could have traumatized me—instead, it perhaps contributed to my carnivorism.

Renise Black November 9, 2010 at 4:46 am

My nine year old wants to be a chef and I sent this link to her email address (yes I gave her an email account) so she could read it too. I am so happy about her choice I have always loved food and cooking and my passion for it has not changed over time.

Career Descriptions November 11, 2010 at 9:03 pm

A career as a chef is great if you enjoy cooking, you don’t have to do something you don’t like for your career, you can be a chef and enjoy your work.

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