Let's Explore a Culinary Career! by Fei Lim

Whether you're managing a high school cafeteria or making sure the menu at the best restaurant in town is keeping up with healthy trends - there are plenty of ways to pursue a career within the restaurant and food services industry. While some people find a niche behind the scenes (such as working the kitchen, managing the budget, or preparing homemade desserts for a wedding), others enjoy people-oriented employment, such as greeting patrons at the front door or serving as a food critic for the local newspaper. To get an idea of just some of the positions found within the food industry, consider the following jobs and careers below:

Restaurant Manager

It takes a lot of patience to oversee the general operations of a restaurant, which may involve guiding the staff, evaluating inventory, buying equipment and supplies, as well as making sure customer service is top-notch. Knowledge of food and beverage regulations is a must within this business field. At times, the restaurant manager will also hire, train, and schedule other employees. A high school diploma or its equivalent is acceptable with about four to six years of related experience. The typical salary for this job is seen between $28,767 and $61,490.

Line Cook

Whenever you visit Applebee's or the International House of Pancakes, there is someone behind the scenes preparing the dishes offered on the menu. A line cook will prepare all the meats, soups, vegetables and other foods needed to fulfill the orders of patrons. Some places accept a high school diploma or its equivalent, but experience is certainly needed in this field (usually at least four years). Depending on the restaurant, a line cook is sometimes asked to lead and direct the progress of others. The average salary runs between $17,092 and $28,683.

Regional Chef

Have you ever possessed a flair for experimenting with food or truly enjoy simmering a meal over a hot stove for hours? All of this passion could serve as the spark needed to ignite a career in cooking. A regional chef is in charge of planning and creating new menus for more than one eatery found in a particular region. Many duties are associated with this sort of job, as a regional chef also trains unit chefs in the art of meal preparation techniques, portion size, and nutritional value. A bachelor's degree in an area of specialty and at least ten years of experience in the field is usually required. Yearly salaries are seen (on the average) between $69,929 and $137,665.

Restaurant Greeter

Making patrons feel welcome is the duty of a restaurant greeter, who is usually the first face seen when one enters an eatery. A greeter escorts guests to their tables and keeps an eye out to make sure their needs are being met. Greeters are also in charge of the reservation book and will take phone calls regarding the availability of a table within the restaurant. A high school diploma is usually needed (or its equivalent). Little to no experience is required for this position, which generally earns between $13,244 and $22,712.

Food Services Manager

A food services manager, who also watches over inventory levels, is in charge of overseeing the daily operations of the food services related to a specific organization (company, school, etc). When the purchase of food, kitchen supplies, or equipment is needed, it is the manager's job to comply. A familiarity with standards and cleanliness within a facility is a must, as failing to follow state or local regulations can result in the shutting down of a kitchen. An associate's degree or its equivalent with four to six years of experience in the field is recommended. The typical yearly salary runs between $39,846 and $95,036.

Possible Education for Restaurant and Food Services

The type of work you seek dictates the kind of education or training required for the restaurant and food services field. Chefs and cooks must attend cooking classes and train in the culinary arts. Diplomas and certificates are usually required to show experience and merit. Those interested in running a restaurant must possess a degree in business. Associate's degrees in management are attractive to businesses looking to hire. Some businesses will hire employees with only a high school diploma, where a degree in a specific field is required for others.

To begin a search for a suitable school regarding food services, consider the Culinary Institute of America; Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts; and The International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes.

Best Places to Work in Food Services

When looking for a company within the food services industry that offers the best benefits, work hours, salaries, and extra perks - the following businesses have earned a reputation for nurturing their employees: Starbucks, Wegmans Food Markets, Whole Foods Market, McDonalds, and General Mills.

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