When you cook meals or desserts at home or in the home of a family member, the most important things to remember are getting all the ingredients right, following the recipe and creating something that tastes fantastic. While the same rules apply in a commercial kitchen such as a restaurant, there are also additional factors which are equally if not more important.
Commercial chefs need to worry about the sanitation and hygiene of their work environment, cross contamination of ingredients for diners with food allergies, price and profit margin of menu items and presentation of dishes. If you love to cook but want to learn what separates a home cook from a commercial chef, consider earning a degree or certificate in commercial cooking.
The degree program for commercial cooking varies slightly depending on where you choose to earn the degree. However, in most locations it will take two years to complete and includes classes in the subjects of food preparation, advanced cooking techniques, nutrition, restaurant operations, basic business principles and communications.
The cooking focus will typically take place in a teaching kitchen so that students can learn useful cooking techniques like sautéing, baking, stewing, broiling, roasting and even knife skills. You will also learn more about the dynamics of a commercial kitchen, and how to communicate with waiters, head chefs and more.
There are several different locations where aspiring commercial chefs can earn their degree in commercial cookery. One of the most common places is at a community college or a vocational training institute. These two places will often offer a degree in commercial cooking at the associate level or a certificate that proves your knowledge on the subject to potential future employers. These two locations often offer the cheapest tuition rates, especially for students who live locally.
Another alternative is to attend a culinary institute. These locations can be more expensive in some cases, but often have highly qualified teaching staff. You will almost certainly need a commercial cooking degree from either a cooking school, a culinary institute, a vocational training institute or a community college in order to secure a career in the cooking world.
The required prerequisites to pursue a degree in commercial cooking will vary slightly depending on where you choose to receive your degree. Some more selective locations might first require you to pass a culinary exam covering the basics of food preparation while others may request that you have a specific minimum high school grade point average. Most locations, however, will simply ask that all students are above the age of 18, have either a high school diploma or a general education degree and truly want to succeed in the world of commercial cooking.
There is an almost unlimited number of career opportunities you can pursue after receiving your degree or certificate in commercial cooking. Many students go on to work in large commercial kitchens as sous chefs, and some are able to work up to the position of head chef over time.
You might also discover a love of baking while earning this degree, setting you up for a career in an independent bakery or in the bakery department of a retail grocery store. Some degree holders also decide that they want to work more independently and begin working for catering companies or even their own business.
If you have always loved cooking at home but don’t know how to transition that passion into a successful career cooking commercially, then consider pursuing a culinary degree in commercial cooking to get started on new career path.