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Professional references from culinary arts instructors could help you find a job as a chef

by Olivia DeWolfe
CulinaryEd Columnist
February 15, 2011

Chef jobs require good letters of recommendationWhether you're still a few months away from your culinary-school graduation or you've already received your diploma, chances are you're probably thinking about your first job, where it might be, and how you are going to land it. As a newly-trained chef, you may be wondering how to make your abilities come through as you look for your first job. You can do this through a job application that includes letters of recommendations from professors in your culinary arts school and from any others that can speak to your skills.

Even top chefs had to start somewhere. For many, including Nancy Silverton and Emeril Lagasse, success in the culinary arts world came after culinary school. While many culinary schools can give you the needed skills to help you to become a chef you still have to get your foot in the door of your first job in order to prove yourself. Whether you've graduated from a traditional or online culinary-degree program, this is exactly where letters of recommendation can prove helpful.

Culinary instructors know best

Culinary instructors are usually industry professionals. They know what will be expected of you in the real world. Not only should they be designing their curriculum around current industry standards, they're also paying close attention to whether you're meeting those standards. On a daily basis, your teachers have watched you practice and demonstrate your abilities in many arenas of cooking: baking, yes, but also in leadership and communication as well as business and finances. They should know your culinary skills well, and they have plenty of experience writing letters of recommendations and should know how to effectively detail your strengths.

Choose culinary instructors with whom you had a good rapport and whose opinion you respect. Let them know what kind of job you're applying for so they can tailor the recommendation to fit. Give them plenty of notice so they're not rushed. Take advantage of the knowledge your culinary instructors have about you when it comes time to apply for your first chef job. A recommendation from someone of high caliber and professional reputation can add depth and status to your application, and could increase your ability to be hired for the chef job you want.

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