What Is Culinary Arts?
Breaking apart the term, culinary means “related to cooking” and arts refers to any broad area of interest. So, put simply, culinary arts refer to the art of preparing, cooking, presenting, and serving food. This may often be in the form of meals in a restaurant, but culinary arts can refer to all professions that involve preparing, cooking, and presenting food.
One simple way to think about culinary arts is to consider what makes food appetizing, to begin with. As humans, we judge food by the way the food itself looks, how it is presented, how it smells, how it performs or behaves while we taste it, how it feels on the tongue, and of course how it makes us feel. You may not have realized that all these factors play a role in our enjoyment of food, but these senses are all working every time you have food in front of you. It’s the role of the culinary arts professional to ensure that all of these senses are satisfied in a positive way.
This is why a culinary arts professional takes time to make sure the food looks appealing, is served in attractive or interesting ways, smells appetizing, and appeals to our taste buds. The successful culinary arts professional uses all the tools available to ensure that all of these factors work together to create the perfect dish.
Reasons to Study the Culinary Arts
At its core, attending a culinary arts program will allow you to learn the skills and knowledge that are required of a chef in the kitchen, which includes not only knowing how to cook but also how to create new dishes, how to keep the kitchen safe, how to run the kitchen efficiently and more. While this is important, you could also argue that some of this can be learned by working your way up in a restaurant instead – to an extent, of course.
However, there’s more to the culinary arts than just learning how to be a professional chef. Studying the culinary arts can help improve your life in many ways, and can allow you to improve the lives of the people you end up cooking for as well. The following are just a few of the reasons why you should study the culinary arts:
- Learn to appreciate cooking as an art form: Preparing food isn’t just about sustenance or about helping people enjoy what they eat (although those are certainly two reasons to prepare food for people), it’s also about sharing art with people. The way you plate your dishes is an art form in itself, something that your customers can take pleasure in looking at. Then there’s the way that you combine aromas and tastes to create different feelings, in the same way, that paintings use colors and form to incite different emotions. By studying culinary arts, you’ll learn how to appreciate food as an art form.
- Learn to appreciate different cultures: Food is closely intertwined with culture. Think about all the different foods that are available from all over the world and how people often pass down family recipes from one person to another. By studying culinary arts, you’ll learn how different cultures prepared different types of foods. This will give you a much greater appreciation for different cultures, which in turn helps to build empathy for people in general. You can share your knowledge of different cultures with your customers by implementing various ingredients or cooking techniques used by different cultures in your dishes, thereby helping to spread an appreciation for different styles of cooking.
- Learn how you can encourage a healthy lifestyle: Good culinary arts programs will teach you about nutrition. Many chefs these days have emphasized the importance of creating delicious dishes that are actually healthy in order to promote nutrition to their customers. It’s why many restaurants offer vegan options these days. Some restaurants, such as farm-to-table restaurants, also practice sustainability and environmental responsibility.
- Have the ability to travel the world: One of the advantages of going to a culinary school instead of working your way up in a local restaurant is that a culinary arts degree could give you the opportunity to seek chef positions all over the world. Not only can traveling the world provide some enlightening experiences that will help to shape your view of life as well as your thoughts about food, but you’ll be able to share your personal experiences with the people you meet throughout the world as well.
- Learn from many professionals in your field: Instead of just learning from a single chef at a restaurant, you’ll be taught by numerous culinary professionals, all with their own unique experiences and skill sets, which they will share with you. This allows for a more well-rounded view of the culinary arts that will have a positive influence on your career.
- You Get to Learn How to Cook with Hands-on Training: A culinary arts training program can also give you the experience necessary to make your resume more attractive to potential employers. The courses will help you become more professional, prepare food in a safe way, and be ethical in your eventual workplace. At a culinary school, you can take courses that include restaurant management, restaurant marketing, food sanitation, and even wine and beer beverages so you can easily make your way in any part of the restaurant.
- It Presents Numerous Opportunities to Launch Your Career: In addition to completing your education program, you can gain real-world culinary experiences that can help you advance your career. Large chain-restaurants, diners, and hospital cafeterias are all seeking prep cooks, chef assistants, and trained chefs. It is important to note that most chefs started humbly, even the most successful ones. Famous chefs often claim that they started their career scrubbing pots and pans and bussing tables. In order to gain valuable experience, culinary arts students must not hesitate to work in the field in any capacity. Culinary jobs that can give you experience include:
- Catering specialist
- Dessert specialist
- Pastry chef
- Assistant chef
- Personal chef
- Prep/line cook
- Short order cook
- Restaurant cook
Once you obtain more experience and advance your education, more doors will be opened for you, the possibilities of which are endless.
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