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Culinary Education is More Than Filleting and Sauteing

Aug 17, 2007
While some may turn on the television to watch the news, find out the latest scores or shop from the comfort of home, a growing number of individuals are turning to their favorite food show to learn how to make the latest dish. From Rachel Ray's Thirty Minute Meals and Giada De Laurentiis' Every Day Italian to Iron Chef and Hells Kitchen, every day viewers are tuning in to learn cooking tips and techniques. These shows have stream lined culinary education and touch base with viewers who may not be experienced in the kitchen but are hungry for the knowledge.

Learning to become a chef is like an art. Just as an artist pours their heart and soul into painting portraits, chefs put their heart and soul into what they cook. However, there is more to cooking than learning cooking techniques. The culinary arts include refining skills such as math, nutrition and management. It is important that chefs understand what they are cooking and what is in the foods they are preparing. These skills are essential to the field. While cooking is the most important aspect of culinary schools, most schools offer classes that put cooking secondary to learning the skills and knowledge that help chefs understand culinary arts to the fullest.

One skill that is important to culinary education is math. Recipes contain numerous amounts and numbers whether it is cups, tablespoons or teaspoons. A chef must know how to divide and multiply recipes into equal proportions. If a recipe makes five servings and only three servings need to be made, the chef needs to know how to divide the ingredients so that they are proportionate to each other and that the basics of the recipe stays the same.

Besides math, aspiring chefs must also gain experience in purchasing, receiving, storage and inventory. These skills are taught during the students' culinary education and will help once they become chefs at a restaurant. Whether a chef is working at a five star resort or a small restaurant these skills are invaluable to the profession. The more a chef knows about these areas the more marketable and appealing they will be to potential employers.

Another crucial skill for chefs is leadership. A chef needs to be able to take charge in the kitchen and delegate tasks to other chefs. If a chef does not have leadership in the kitchen it can be a disaster. Food would not be prepared on time and there would be utter chaos. Culinary education emphasizes leadership because not only is it essential in the culinary world, but it is important in everyday life as well. Along with leadership, chefs also must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. If a chef cannot communicate what he or she wants, then tasks are not going to be completed.

One criterion important to the service industry is personal and industry sanitation and safety. With national outbreaks in E.Coli and Salmonella, it is important that students learning to become chefs are taught principles in sanitation and safety, which they will use once they go out into the real world. Culinary education emphasizes these principles. Students will establish standards while in culinary school and maintain them throughout their education.

There is a lot more to becoming a chef than just cooking. It is important for schools to incorporate these skills into culinary education and offer students the knowledge that will help them become successful in the restaurant setting. These skills will not only help them once they graduate and are concocting their own masterpieces, but it will also help them in everyday life.
About the Author
Andy West is a freelance writer for The Culinary Institute of Virginia College. Culinard offers two outstanding programs in culinary education. For more information please visit http://www.culinard.com .
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