If there is one thing that everyone can agree upon in the entire world… it is that food is a delicious delicacy! While there are a wide variety and diverse amount of different cuisines around the world, the overall spectrum is still the same. No one on the face of this planet has uttered the words “I hate all food that exists!” If that was the case, then unfortunately they would not be able to survive.
In today’s society, we have watched the progression of food evolve tremendously. In America, we have classic food that we are known by including Cheeseburgers, BBQ/Barbecue/Bar-B-Cue (however you decide to say it), meatloaf, steak & potatoes, and more.
In recent years we have watched an amazing transition in the food cultures/environments nationwide and locally. Fine dining restaurants and chefs have produced outstanding food that was once in a lifetime experience. The creativity and flavor combinations that are representations of how progressive the food world have become.
One of the most recent and popular trends in America right now are food trucks. Many highly accomplished (and new) chefs are taking their cooking talents on a mobile level. Instead of having a stationary restaurant where patrons have to visit your restaurant, chefs have become creative in simply taking the food to their patrons.
While food trucks may sound like a more fancy way of saying/executing fast food delivery… in a sense it is! The major difference between fast food restaurants and food trucks is pretty night and day. The quality of food from food trucks is by far more superior to fast food restaurants. In some cases, food coming from food trucks are even better than food in sit-down casual/high casual restaurants.
In Italy, they are widely known for their plethora of pasta dishes including pasta alfredo, spaghetti, lasagna, tagliatelle, and ravioli (just to name a few). Pasta is by far one of the most versatile ingredients to use in cooking today. When one states that they are interested in cooking pasta, there is no one way to simply pinpoint a favorite without asking detailed questions.
Currently, there are 350 different types of pasta that exist today. Imagine each type of pasta having 100 different variations… multiply that by 350 and you now see how many options are available with pasta. In all honesty, 100 dishes for one type of pasta is an understatement, to say the least.
We are living in an era where the possibilities of food are endless. Whether you are looking to enjoy a simple quick bite or an intricate 10-course meal, the options are available to you at your discretion. One thing that we have the luxury of waking up and thinking every day is that nothing has to be the same.
Young students today are aspiring to become chefs, pastry chefs, restaurant owners, and hold essential professions within the food world (including nutritionists). To the general public, when one thinks about culinary arts school, it is understandable to think that the student is simply looking to become a chef. However, that is not always the case (which we will cover a little bit later on).
Attending a college for culinary arts (whether for 2-years or 4-years) does not necessarily mean that one is looking to become just a chef. There are a plethora of essential roles that individuals play in today’s society regarding food. While it may not seem like the most rewarding job (salary wise compared to say an attorney), money is generally not the main reason why individuals enter the food industry.
Today we are going to specifically touch upon the details and information that you should take into consideration as a student/resident in Texas. At the end of this article we hope that you gain a great insight into the joy, wonders, and endless possibilities you will have at your discretion. In this article we are going to break down the different job positions and the information required for them specifically. The culinary arts world is a huge place and in a metaphorical sense… no one city [position] requires the same exact things, skills, and overall knowledge.
As stated earlier, there are a plethora of options one can take when it comes to the world of culinary arts. The two main areas that we will cover today are chefs/pastry chefs, and nutritionists.
There is food related licenses/certifications such as a Food Handlers/ServSafe certification(s) that your specific employer can require on their behalf. Just to save yourself some time, get these two basic certifications immediately as they are renewable (time frames differ and are also subject to change at a moment’s notice).
Chefs/Pastry Chefs: There are technically no state requirements when it comes to being a chef or pastry chef in the state of Texas. Although having a high school diploma/GED is a basic given when it comes to applying for culinary schools.
Unlike other professions (and positions within the culinary world), one does not necessarily have to obtain a specific degree to enter the field. However, it is highly recommended that any student/individual that is looking to become a chef at least obtain an associates (2-year) degree.
The great benefit of being a chef/pastry chef is not under the mindset that a degree(s) will necessarily determine your worth in the career field. Your success will come from learning skills, being creative, hard work, and your overall passion for food. As stated earlier, there are no definitive state requirements to being a chef/pastry chef.
Nutritionists: Unlike the positions/careers of being a chef or pastry chef, nutritionists actually do have requirements. The reason being is that nutritionists can basically be looked at as food doctors. These are the individuals that specialize in a wide variety of nutritional aspects including values, health specifications and more. In the state of Texas, it is of vital importance that students/professionals acquire at least a bachelor’s degree in their respective field.
Being a nutritionist requires extensive knowledge of food components (physical and chemical), the value of vitamins, calories, fat, and daily intake. You will also be required to take on an internship (paid or unpaid) during your academic career.
Another highly recommended “requirement” of being a Texas nutritionist in Texas is attending post-secondary school for your masters/doctoral degree(s).
In Texas, there are multiple culinary arts programs/colleges you can choose from at your discretion. The list of college institutions is as follows.
• The Art Institute of Dallas
• Abilene Christian University
• Tarrant County College
• Lamar University (Beaumont)
• Texas Tech University
• San Jacinto College (Central Campus)
• The Culinary School of Fort Worth
• University of North Tea
• Culinary Academy of Austin
• University of Houston (University Park)
• El Paso Community College
• Central Texas College
• Auguste Escoffier Schools of Culinary Arts
Chefs/Pastry chefs: Attending culinary school not only allows for you to have something to insert in your educational slot on your resume, but it also helps you understand the basics of cooking. While you may be a great cook at home, being a professional chef is completely different than simply cooking at home for your own leisure.
In culinary school, young aspiring chef/pastry chefs learn the foundations of cooking in general. The lessons and foundations include cooking techniques, proper cooking methods, proper cooking terminology, recipe development skills (also known as R&D for short), restaurant management skills, and sanitation standards. The latter is the most important as some restaurants do require their employees/chefs to obtain a food handlers safety license/certification.
While this is simply a test that can be taken outside of college, during your academic career, it will all tie in together and make more sense to you. In addition to the latter, the test plus booklet and class work that will help you receive this license/certification is typically included in your tuition. Be sure to check with your university institution directly as these classes and stipulations are subject to change at any moment (although it is rare of change happening currently).
Essentially the less amount of post-high school college that a chef/pastry chef should settle for is a 2-year (associates degree) level. If you so decide to complete a full four years of college, you will also learn the restaurant management aspects of the industry. Knowledge/skills that you will learn in a 4-year program will include accounting, nutrition (not to the degree of nutritionists, but the fundamentals), and overall business elements to being a restaurant owner.
Nutritionists: The unsung heroes of the culinary world are individuals who are interested in becoming nutritionists. While it may seem as if anyone can properly maintain, their own diets (which is true) nutritionists are the professionals that can break down every single element of an individual’s food intake.
Nutritionists are more than just individuals who understand the benefits of specific food and diets; they fully comprehend the health aspects as well. It is pretty vital for students to take into consideration being a nutritionist in today’s society. Essentially you will still be able to cook food just like chefs/pastry chefs are. However, your setting (place of employment) will not be in a restaurant. For those that are fine with not taking on the environment of chefs and pastry chefs (which we will go more into detail with later on), being a nutritionist is the route for you.
In America specifically, we have watched a transition of glutton eating just because we can slightly change to being more conscious and aware of the daily diet. To be even more specific, individuals are seeking to properly balance their daily calories, fat, vitamins, etc., in comparison to 20-30 years ago. This is where the knowledge of nutritionists come into consideration (as a student and to those who will require your guidance).
The restaurant industry is highly competitive not just because of how many professionals are involved, but the salary ranges that come with specific positions. Straight out of culinary school in Texas (on average) the salary for a line cook/pastry chef 1 (also known as commas’) is typical between $20,000 and $40,000 a year. If you can make the salary on more of the far right end of the spectrum, then kudos to you!
As a beginner in this industry, do not expect to make six-figure salaries straight out of the gate. Being a chef is not an overnight career that will bring you in tons of money. It takes hard work and dedication over a few years to essentially rise in the ranks to eventually becoming an Executive Chef (and owner if you so desire).
During your career, you will begin to understand that your love for food will triumph and make sense as you progress. Enjoy the journey for now and always keep in the back of your mind the old mantra “anything worth having is not easy to obtain.”
Unlike chefs/pastry chefs, nutritionists actually have an actual medium when it comes to their salary expectations. In the state of Texas, nutritionists’ starting salary range is currently between $48,000 and $53,170. Keep in mind that while we are still talking about the culinary world as a whole, these two positions differ in levels/higher positions, and requirements.
While you compare and contrast the salary ranges for chefs/pastry chefs, and nutritionists, understand that money should not be the ultimate factor. Your career should be something that you enjoy waking up and doing every single day. Another old mantra that many culinary professionals use is “if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.”
Now granted we are not saying that there will never be days that you just want to throw your hands up and say I’m done (especially being a chef or pastry chef). What we are saying is that unlike many other careers, being in the culinary arts world is one of the most exciting career fields to be in. How many people do you know get to be around food for 8+ hours a day and get paid for it? If you are not the type of individual that can sit behind a desk all day, understand that you do not have to.