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You've Graduated From Culinary School: Now What?

by Olivia DeWolfe
CulinaryEd Columnist
February 23, 2011

Decisions after culinary school.Culinary school attracts people for many reasons. Some are avid home cooks who want to make a living doing what they love. Others are already paid to cook, but want to expand their knowledge and repertoire in order to find more challenging work and responsibility, better pay or the skills to run their own business.

Here are two common paths for culinary-school students following their graduation.

Culinary arts graduates and restaurant jobs

Many graduates work as a chef or baker in a restaurant. While you probably won't start off running the show, once you establish your reputation as a creative, hardworking and reliable chef, you could see more responsibility and pay within two or three years. After several years of experience in a fine-dining establishment, you could move on to another restaurant or even open your own.

Many culinary schools require three- to six-month externships in a successful restaurant. This could pay off with a job opportunity following graduation. Many employers look forward to the opportunity to hire a culinary-school trained chef who already has familiarity with their menu, protocol and staff.

Culinary arts graduates and new businesses


Many culinary-degree programs teach the skills for running a food-service business. Instruction includes fields like accounting, cost control, marketing and purchasing and inventory. This knowledge, combined with your your talent and enthusiasm, could help you to open your own:

  • Cafe
  • Catering company
  • Private-chef business
  • Speciality-cake business

While it's atypical for graduates to open award-winning restaurants right after graduation, there are plenty of chefs who start with smaller businesses that grow over time in success and revenue. Many successful culinary careers grow out of a mix of raw talent, a desire to work hard, and a culinary-arts degree program.

What is the path that you want to take after you complete your degree program?

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