The Growing Fields of Catering and Prepared Food

As we all get busier, more and more people turn to catering and prepared food for their special events. This means that in your studies, you shouldn’t feel like you have to limit yourself to studying solely for a career in a restaurant. Growing numbers of newly graduated chefs are striking out on their own, turning to this field for an alternative culinary career. 

Benefits of choosing catering over traditional restaurant work 
While both career choices are fast paced (isn’t that why you chose culinary work?), catering has a different pace than working in a restaurant. A restaurant has fast hours, when people wait in line and the kitchen goes crazy. A catering business has fast days, when everything must be done at once and ready to go when the guests arrive. It involves coordinating all the dishes at one time-and usually with a smaller staff. People who open their own catering businesses often hire their own waiters, or serve the food themselves, so there’s a lot more multi-tasking on the part of the catering staff. And while this may sound quick, catering also involves a lot of downtime. Hours may be spent planning menus with clients, experimenting with new tools and mapping out a day. After all, few catering companies cover special events seven days a week! 

Negatives of making this career choice 
A catering business tends to be less steady than a restaurant. And if you’re starting at the ground level, it’s unlikely you’ll be needed every day. If you start up your own catering business directly out of culinary school, you’ll have to build your own reputation-and you won’t have a storefront to lure people in. You’ll rely on friends and connections for your business, which is guaranteed to be slow at times. And you’ll have to invest in a lot of your own cooking supplies, which can be expensive. 

What to do now 
If you’re in culinary school and are considering working in catering when you complete your degree, you should take the time now to find a job or internship with a catering company. Not only will this provide a prospect for future employment once you finish your coursework, but it will also give you a realistic, inside look at how the catering sector works.

A True Day in the Life of an American Culinary Student

Every culinary school has slightly different schedules, both in terms of the day-to-day schedule as well as how many months or years it takes to complete the entire program. It won’t be exactly like this student’s experience, but if you’re looking for a shorter but more intensive culinary school experience, this is the type of schedule you can expect.

5:45am- Wake-up. 

6:30am-Arrived and school and started reviewing for my Storeroom Operations final and practical. I was able to get in a solid 20 minutes of reviewing and headed into the dining room. The final took about 15 minutes and next I was on to the product identification practical. 

7:45am-The practical was a little tougher than the written test. We had 15 minutes to identify 92 fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs. In many cases it was required that we be specific (i.e., “pear” was not the correct answer, “bosc pear” was). 
Upon turning in our practical we had the option of earning four extra credit points by tasting or identifying something the Chef had selected. Our first option was to identify a beige, stringing looking something in a bag covered in Japanese writing. None of the students had enough confidence to select the identification option, which turned out to be shark fin. That left two tasting options, Dave’s Insanity Sauce or these little pickled fish that “Taste like salt, but the fins and scales get caught in your throat.” 
I opted for the Dave’s Insanity Sauce. Chef ran the toothpick in the hot sauce, and with a smile handed me the hot sauce. I coughed a few times and ran to find bread and milk to soothe the heat. It was worth the extra points. 

8:15am-I go shopping for storeroom foods. Fortunately, the requisitions we are filling today are for day 1 of the next class. Usually day 1 requisitions are smaller because of limited production. 

9:00am-Since it was the last day of Storeroom Operations, we began to deep clean the room. 

11:15am-Lunch runs from 11:15am to 12:15pm and is served by other students. At 12:05pm we were still waiting for our salads, which is the second course. The student waiter brought us meat knives and then realized he had never served us salads after the soup. He decided to go ahead and skip the salad and on to the entrée we went. I received my lamb rack and it looked as if it were accidentally dropped on the grill. It was terribly undercooked. Definitely the worst lunch I’ve ever had. 

1:00pm-I had the opportunity to join a Chef as he prepared for a photo shoot with the Rocky Mountain News. The Chef was going to be making Braciola and meatballs. After we were done with the prep and mise en place (the mood of the plate) for the shoot, I had to go to my afternoon class. The Rocky Mountain News didn’t arrive until after I left so unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see any of the cooking, photography or writing. 

2:00pm-Went to my Menu Planning and Cost Control class upset that I was missing the photo shoot. 

4:00pm-Left class in a rush to get to a job interview. Went to a restaurant downtown that’s about to open and interviewed for a line cook spot. The interview went well enough that I was asked to come back in for a 2nd interview Wednesday. 

6:00pm-Started my storeroom paper that’s due tomorrow. 

7:30pm-Went and played a little basketball to break up my storeroom paper. 

9:00pm-Recovered from playing basketball and got back on my paper. 

10:30pm-Ironed my uniform and organized my stuff together for the next morning. 

11:00pm-Light’s out. 

Typical Courses and Foods Prepared in Culinary Schools

A lot of people have an innate passion for cooking and experimentation in the kitchen. It’s one thing to have developed a handful or a dozen first-rate dishes. It’s another thing to have a broad understanding of the culinary arts, how different ingredients and methods of preparation can inform entire cooking style or palette, how different types of cuisine have evolved and borrowed from each other over time. It’s at this point that many people seek out a more formal education in the culinary arts.

Interested in culinary school? What does a list of commonly taught food items are taught at these culinary schools? There is no universal list, and most schools and faculty members are willing to help you out with any dish if you have something in particular in mind. That said, check out this sampling of skills and recipes you’re likely to learn in a full-time culinary program: 

Mornay Sauce 
Bearnaise Sauce 
beurre rouge 
Lemon Orzo 
Pheasant and Lentil Soup 
Eggplant Maite 
Turkey, Gravey, Cranberry Relish 
Boiled New Potatoes with Dill 
Creole Chicken Stew 
She-Crab Soup 
Marinated Breast of Chicken with a Roasted Garlic Custard Tart and Roasted Pepper Coulis 
Grilled Lamb Chops 
Maiter D 
Banana Nut Bread and Buttermilk Biscuits 
Croissant Dough 
Croissants and Danishes 
Blueberry Pie and Soft Rolls 
Angel Food Cake 
Tart with Pastry Cream 
Fish (Tilapia) 
Sausage (Chorizo) 
Receiving Crustaceans and Mollusks 
Shucking Oysters and Clams 
Cheese Omelete 
Sausage Patties and Homefries 
Pancakes with Warm Fruit Compote and Sausage Links 
French Onion Soup and Asparagus Soup 
Any Pasta Dish wth Steamed Clams 
Lunch Buffet Food 
Carrot Soup with Curry and Ginger 
Coffee and Tea 
Beer and Beer Making 
Wine, Winemaking, Types of Grapes 
Taste and Taste Location on Tongue 
Healthier Cooking and Vegetables 
Pork Tenderloin with Peach and Zinfindel Sauce 
Scallops with a Yellow-Pepper Coulis and a Tomato Coulis 
Winter Pear and Bleu Cheese Salad with Port Wine Dressing and Toasted Walnuts 
Stuffed Rolled and Tied 3 Ducks 
Asian hors d’oeuvres 
Spinach Soup 
Chicken and Coconut Milk Soup 
Polynesean Chicken and Vegetable Soup 
Tabelside Cooking and Grilling 
Food Running 
Food Ordering 
Crepes Suzette 
Pastry Cream 
Crème Anglaise 
Lemon Tarts 
Chocolate and Caramel Sauces 
Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cups 
Appel Strudel 
Chocolate Tart 
Ice Carving 
Salads and Desserts 
Seafood Mousse and Smoked Trout Terrine 
Sea Bass Rolls and Veggie Rolls 
Shrimp and Mussel 
Pasta Salad 
Beef Tenederloin 
Foie Gras with Truffles

Culinary School Finder

It’s hard to imagine a more universal aspect of culture than cooking. Different methods of sourcing, preparing, cooking, and presenting the food we eat are meaningful for various cultures around the world and throughout the ages. Today’s cooks continue to find new recipes and explore nuances to old favorites. The fusion of the modern culinary scene is still built on foundational principles traced back to discrete cultural heritages. If you’re looking to build your skill set through culinary schools known for specific themes, this is the place for you. Here are some of the areas we want to cover as we develop the Culinary School Finder:

French Cooking Schools

French cooking has become a highly refined art due to the culinary traditions that have been developed and perfected over the centuries. If you want to be part of this legendary history, then you may want to enroll in a cooking school that teaches the French classics. You will learn the French cooking techniques that have become staples of the culinary world and perfect them for yourself with hands-on training. At our featured culinary schools, you’ll be able to focus on French cooking while still learning cuisines from around the world. Check out the links below to learn more about French cooking schools.

Italian Cooking Schools

Pizza! Pasta! Wine! At Italian Cooking Schools you’ll learn the basics of the Italian cuisine and perfect your technique and style with specialized hands-on training. Your courses at our featured schools listed below will detail the specifics of cooking Italian food and teach you about other cuisines from around the world. If you’ve always dreamed of making an amazing alfredo, the perfect pesto, or great fresh pasta, then Italian Cooking Schools could be right for you. To find out if they are, simply click on the culinary school links below and request complimentary information on the programs of your choice.

Mexican Cooking Schools

Are you tired of trying to find a good Mexican restaurant in the Midwest or the Northeast? Do you want to open one? Or do you just want to learn to create the spicy, flavorful cuisine in your own home? Whatever your reason, Mexican Cooking Schools are your key to success, either in your career, your kitchen, or both. At the featured cooking schools below, you’ll have a hands-on learning experience that will allow you to perfect your technique and your personal style with Mexican food as well as with cuisines from around the world. Browse through the links to find out which program is right for you!

Thai Cooking Schools

Thai food has exploded in popularity worldwide, which is probably why you’re reading this now. As you probably know, Thai food combines the highlights of many Eastern cuisines: stir-fried dishes from China, Muslim coconut, sauces from Malaysia, sticky rice and rustic bitter flavors from Laos, etc. You can learn to make dishes from these ingredients and more if you enroll in one of our featured culinary schools below, where you’ll have the opportunity to perfect Thai as well as many other dishes from around the world. To find out more about Thai Cooking Schools, check out the links below.

Vegetarian Cooking Schools

Are you passionate about cooking? Do you enjoy vegetarian or vegan food? If you answered “yes” to those questions, then you should consider Vegetarian Cooking Schools. All of the programs suggested below offer detailed segments of class time devoted to vegetarian cooking. You’ll also learn about other dishes and foods from around the world.

The vegetarian and vegan culinary space is a very niche area, and the demand for vegan and vegetarian dishes continues to grow. There is a lot of opportunity for budding culinary arts professionals to make their mark in this area by creating new and exciting vegetarian and vegan dishes. The fabulous part of the vegetarian and vegan cuisine is that it does not fall into one type of cooking — it is possible to come up with vegetarian dishes and vegan dishes in foods of all cultures and cooking types.

If culinary arts interests you, and you want to ensure that vegetarian cooking will be a part of your curriculum, choose from the culinary schools listed below. Simply click on the links suggested and you’ll receive complimentary information about the programs of your choice.

Pastry School

Are you passionate about pastries? Enrolling in a Pastry School could be exactly what you need to develop your pastry making techniques. You’ll learn the fundamentals of ingredients, consistencies, proportions, and chemical reactions while receiving the hands-on training you need to perfect your style. You will gain your culinary degree by working through puff pastries, fillings, cookies, tartlets, specialty yeast dough items, basic syrups, creams, icings, pie categories, and much more.

Become a pastry chef today! Check out the Pastry Schools below to learn more about your options, and request free information from the featured schools of your choice.

Baking Schools

From sophisticated génoise cakes and puff pastries, to traditional farmhouse bread and sugar cookies, the world of baking is an attractive venture for many culinary arts students. Baking schools are the first step towards a rewarding career in the field of culinary arts or pastry making, providing specialized courses and a hands-on program of study. Famous chefs and bakers experienced their first successes with training and classes at a baking school, and many continue to teach and educate students through baking programs around the country.

Baking schools provide hands-on training so students can learn the fundamental skills in baking, cooking, and dessert preparation. Instead of sitting in a classroom, students can learn through demonstrations, practice, and tests that require them to create various desserts, cakes, pastries, and apply different techniques. Since many bakers and culinary artists pursue work in a professional environment or open their own business, baking schools also provide business and management courses.

Restaurant Management School

Restaurant Management Schools work hard to integrate managerial theory with practical, hands-on training so that when their students graduate to the working world they will not only know what to do, but how to do it as well. You’ll learn essential management techniques and basic culinary skills because you will be in charge of ensuring that everything within the restaurant, people and food, runs smoothly. If you’re looking to take charge of the culinary experience, what better way than through Restaurant Management Schools?