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How to Start a Career In Restaurant & Catering Services

Chef cooking in a restaurant kitchen
Food industry careers range from chef
positions to running your own catering
or home baking business.

Love to cook?

For those who think there's nothing better than dabbling in the kitchen and trying out new recipes, there are a world of opportunities for turning a cooking hobby into a career.

The good news for amateur cooks and hobbyists is that local entry-level restaurant jobs are fairly easy to obtain without any formal training. Some chefs have even begun their careers working behind the counter of a food shop, or by selling their home-baked pastries to local bakeries.

In most cases, though, training is done on the job. From there, those with a natural curiosity for food - and the passion to follow their dreams - can find themselves cooking in their own restaurant or managing a successful catering business one day.

Be warned, however, that any type of food service career usually requires working long hours (especially on weekends and holidays!), as well as tremendous attention to detail to keep all areas of the kitchen running smoothly. An established restaurant or catering business owner must also be an expert multitasker who can not only cook but juggle menu planning, pricing, and managing chef assistants and waitstaff.

Some of the knowledge essential to starting a career in the cooking industry include basic cooking techniques and proper knife skills, an ability to work fast, and above all, a willingness to learn and ask questions.

"Any type of food service career usually requires working long hours (especially weekends and holidays!) and tremendous attention to detail..."

Although working from the bottom up is a good way to learn (in fact, some top chefs have started out as dishwashers) many people at some point in their careers will want to opt for some form of training at a recognized culinary school.

In many areas, city or state regulations may also require mandatory classes for kitchen staff to learn proper food safety, handling, and storage techniques.

An average income for the food industry is difficult to pin down because wages vary greatly based on region and experience. Positions in big metro areas with a huge demand for skilled chefs can earn professionals some of the nation's highest salaries.

However the industry average in the US generally ranges from about $20,000 for entry level positions to about $35,000 a year for more experienced chefs.

For those who make it to open their own restaurants someday, the sky's the limit - depending on the area, and how much success you can achieve with local restaurant critics and clientele. Overall, the job outlook is good, which means that the industry is expected to grow by about ten percent over the next ten years.

also see in Wine -> Sommelier Jobs

More about restaurant & catering service jobs around the Web:

Interviews with Professional Chefs - Dozens of one-on-one interviews with information on how professional and celebrity chefs established their careers, with more on their personal food and culinary preferences, favorite cookbooks and recipes.

Starting a Successful Catering Business - Good, basic business guide with advice on how to determine your menu and market, start-up costs, tips on pricing, and related resources from

Occupational Outlook Handbook - Chefs, Cooks, and Food Preparation Workers - US Department of Labor guide to careers in the kitchen with an overview of necessary training, work description, typical salaries and industry outlook.

Culinary - Comprehensive directory of culinary schools in the US, Canada, and Europe with information on the admission process and related advice on starting up a career.

also see in Business -> Restaurant & Food Services Industry

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