Culinary programs help chefs learn and hone their trade. The programs often require a high school diploma. Some high school classes benefit potential chefs in the areas of kitchen and food preparation, the science of food sanitation and taste, and in opening and managing a restaurant.
Cooking and Food Preparation
Basic high school cooking classes teach students how to properly broil, grill and barbeque food, to avoid raw meats and about improper food preparation. These cooking classes also focus on avoiding cross-contamination, handling vegetables and meats in the same kitchen and identifying different tools and equipment in the kitchen. Each cooking class differs for each high school or school board.
Biology and Sciences
Sciences classes, such as biology and chemistry, teach students what happens with germs and viruses in foods and the human body, such as the process of food poisoning and the effects of raw foods consumed by humans. Chemistry, such as molecular gastronomy, is frequently used in high-end chef dishes. Having experience working with chemicals allows the chef to be experimental.
Business administration classes are helpful for aspiring chefs, especially for those who wish to open their own restaurant or become a manager or supervisor for an established restaurant. High school business classes teach students how to make a budget, operate a business, manage employees and marketing the restaurant.
In addition to a high-school diploma, aspiring chefs must complete a culinary program at a post-secondary institution such as a community college, technical school or a culinary arts institution. The focus of the culinary program depends on what type of chef the student wants to become, such as sous chefs, head chef or pastry chef. Additional courses are available for people who wish to start a restaurant, including business courses and entrepreneur classes. Apprenticeships let chefs get formal training, and the American Culinary Federation offers some such programs.
2016 Salary Information for Chefs and Head Cooks
Chefs and head cooks earned a median annual salary of $43,180 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, chefs and head cooks earned a 25th percentile salary of $32,230, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $59,080, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 146,500 people were employed in the U.S. as chefs and head cooks.