Qualified professionals can pursue a variety of career paths in culinary arts, pastry and baking, or hospitality and restaurant management. The locations and places professionals can find themselves are diverse when considering the vast and flavorful array of dining establishments, hotels and resorts across the country and around the world. Possibilities exist in fine dining establishments, trendy restaurants, cafés, bakeries, cruise ships, country clubs, convention centers, banquet halls, catering companies, corporate dining rooms, private homes, schools, hospitals, to name a few.
Through our attention to the needs of the industry and our relationships with employers, we have built a reputation for graduating students with the skills to pursue hospitality and culinary career opportunities.
Le Cordon Bleu graduates in culinary arts, pâtisserie and and hospitality & restaurant management should expect to have the skills needed to pursue culinary career opportunities at an entry-level. The various titles of 'chef' generally apply to more advanced roles in the professional kitchen. One should not expect to become a chef upon graduation, but be encouraged to work toward becoming a chef through the course of a culinary career. Le Cordon Bleu does not guarantee employment or salary.
Under the Chef’s Umbrella
The culinary industry encompass a broad range of entry-level and advanced positions such as those listed below:
With Additional Work Experience
Pâtisserie and Baking
Upon completion of a pâtisserie and baking training program, a graduate should expect to have the skills needed to pursue culinary career opportunities at an entry-level. The various titles of 'chef' generally apply to more advanced roles in the professional kitchen. One should not expect to become a chef upon graduation, but be encouraged to work toward becoming a chef through the course of a career. Le Cordon Bleu does not guarantee employment or salary.
With Additional Work Experience
Hospitality & Restaurant Management
Upon completion of a hospitality & restaurant management training program, a graduate should expect to have the skills needed to pursue culinary career opportunities at an entry-level. The various titles of “manager” generally apply to more advanced roles in the culinary industry. One should not expect to become a manager upon graduation, but be encouraged to work toward becoming a manager through the course of a career. Le Cordon Bleu does not guarantee employment or salary.
With Additional Work Experience
A position as an Apprentice Chef is a learning opportunity. Usually, an Apprentice Chef will work as part of a kitchen team, under the supervision of a Station Chef, until they gain experience and understand the operation and procedures of a particular station or kitchen. Responsibilities may include food preparation tasks such as slicing and dicing as well as cooking.
Assistant Managers help run the day-to-day operations of a hotel, restaurant, pastry shop or bakery. In large hotels there may be several Assistant Managers in charge of different areas such as accounting, office, administration, maintenance, marketing and sales, security, personnel, purchasing, and pool, spa, or recreational facilities. However, in smaller hotels those responsibilities may be combined into one position. As an Assistant Manager acquires experience he/she may move on to the position of Manager.
Bakers use various ingredients and mixing methods to produce breads, pastries and other baked goods. They should have an eye for detail and be skilled in icing and decorating. They also need to know about applied chemistry. Bakers in establishments that sell directly to customers such as bakeries, pastry shops and restaurants, usually produce small quantities of baked goods to be sold the same day. Bakers who work for manufacturers, on the other hand, produce goods in large quantities, using high-volume mixing machines, ovens, and other equipment.
Cake Decorators have an artistic flair and design skill. They use special tools and ingredients such as pastry cream and colored icings to create designs on everything from petit fours to large wedding cakes, as well as other special-occasion cakes, and pastries. They also shape pastries and cakes into various forms which are then decorated with edible designs such as flowers and letters.
Caterers provide food, beverages, and service for functions and events such as parties, weddings, conferences, corporate outings, banquets, film crews, and more. They are responsible for preparing the food, getting it to the event, setting it up, serving, and taking it away. Smaller catering companies may employ only a handful of workers while large caterers may have extensive staff. The size of catered events can range from small groups to hundreds or even thousands of people.
Catering Managers arrange for food service in a hotel's meeting and convention rooms. They coordinate menus and costs for banquets, parties, and events with meeting and convention planners or individual clients. They coordinate staffing needs and arrange schedules with kitchen personnel to ensure appropriate food service.
Certified Food Service Management Professional (FMP)
Restaurant Managers may choose to acquire this certification because it's a recognition of their professional achievement. The National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation awards the FMP designation to managers who achieve a qualifying score on a written examination, complete a series of courses that cover a range of food service management topics, and meet standards of work experience in the field.
Chef/Line Cook/Station Chef
Chefs/Line Cooks/Station Chefs are responsible for much of the actual cooking. A chef may be the only one working in a kitchen, or there could be a hierarchy of chefs who assist with titles such as first cook, second cook, and so on. They may also have the title of the item they prepare (entrée chef, fish chef, roast chef, grill chef, fry chef, vegetable chef, roundsman/swing cook, cold foods/pantry chef, pastry cook).
A Chef Instructor is a professional chef who teaches at a culinary school for people interested in pursuing culinary careers as professional chefs. In addition to teaching culinary theory and techniques, they can provide students with insight and tricks of the trade garnered from firsthand experience. Cooking classes are also offered at places such as local schools, churches, community centers, and even cooking retailers. Generally those classes are geared for people who enjoy cooking but do not intend to make it their profession.
Chocolatiers are trained artists who make individual chocolates by hand. These can range from individual bite-sized chocolates to elaborate chocolate creations. They must be skilled in the techniques of chocolate making which include melting, blending and molding different types and kinds of chocolate, and have an understanding of how different kinds of chocolate react under varying circumstances that can alter the texture and consistency. The experienced Chocolatier is able to judge the right balance of butter and cocoa and develops an eye and feel for when the chocolate mixture is right.
Confectioners make all kinds of candies and bite-sized sweets. The gamut runs from hard candies, marshmallow and jelly candies, to licorice, toffee, and chocolates.
Convention Services Manager
In larger hotels, Convention Services Managers coordinate the activities of various departments to accommodate meetings, conventions, and special events. They meet with representatives of groups or organizations to plan the number of rooms to reserve, the desired configuration of the meeting space and banquet services. During the meeting or event, they resolve unexpected problems and monitor activities to make sure all departments are carrying out their responsibilities to the satisfaction of the group.
Executive Chef/Chef de Cuisine
An Executive Chef, sometimes called the Chef de Cuisine, is generally the highest ranking member of the food service staff and would have extensive experience working as a chef. They are responsible for the daily operations of a kitchen and generally do more supervising than cooking. Executive chefs typically oversee the work of chefs, sous chefs, cooks and other kitchen staff – sometimes called a brigade. Chefs also recruit and hire additional chefs as necessary. They plan menus, determine serving sizes and food costs, order food supplies, coordinate the work of the kitchen staff, and direct the preparation of meals to ensure uniform quality and presentation. In large operations such as restaurant groups and hotels they may also supervise several kitchens or locations within the operation. In a hotel they might be part of the management team, along with the general manager, food and beverage manager and perhaps one or more assistant managers. Some executive chefs own their own restaurants, in which case their title might be some variation of owner-executive chef.
Food and Beverage Manager
Food and Beverage Managers are responsible for overseeing all food service operations maintained by the hotel they work for. They work with the executive chef to coordinate menus for the hotel's restaurants, lounges, and room service operations, supervise the ordering of food and supplies, direct service and maintenance contracts within the kitchens and dining areas, and manage food service budgets.
Food Stylists work in photo studios or on location for magazine layouts and television commercials. They prepare recipes and food products for close-up "beauty" shots in advertising or editorial pages. For these purposes, presentation is paramount – the food must look beautiful and appetizing and hold up under hot studio lights.
Food writing does not require that one be a chef, but a chef with writing talent could consider positions as a freelance editorial contributor or on staff for a magazine publisher or newspaper. Food writing could include anything from writing recipe articles or cookbooks to reviewing restaurants.
Front Desk/Front Office Manager
Front Desk staff handle the check-in and check-out process when guests arrive at or depart from a hotel. It's their job to treat guests promptly and courteously, give them their key and room assignment and take care of any requests a guest may have. As they gain experience, a Front Desk Clerk may be promoted to Front Desk Manager. The Front Desk Manager coordinates reservations and room assignments and makes sure that problems are resolved to the customer's satisfaction. They are also responsible for training and directing the hotel's front desk staff.
General Managers are responsible for the overall operation of a hotel. They set room rates, allocate funds to departments, approve expenditures, and ensure expected standards for guest service, decor, housekeeping, food quality, and banquet operations, within guidelines established by the owners or executives of the hotel or chain. Managers who work for chains may also organize and staff a newly built hotel, refurbish an older hotel, or reorganize a hotel or motel that is not operating successfully.
Hotel Managers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a hotel. In larger properties such as chains, one or more hotel managers may assist the general manager, frequently dividing their time between the food and beverage operations and the rooms or lodging services. At least one manager, either the general manager or a hotel manager, is on call 24 hours a day to resolve problems or emergencies.
Lead Cook is a cook with a certain amount of experience, expertise and/or seniority at an establishment. A Lead Cook may be called a Head Cook. Head Cooks coordinate the work of the kitchen staff and direct the preparation of meals. They determine serving sizes, plan menus, order food supplies, and oversee kitchen operations to ensure uniform quality and presentation of meals.
Matre d's oversee the dining room in fine dining establishments and serve as hosts or hostesses who welcome customers, show them to their tables, and offer them menus.
Managers oversee the staff and are responsible for the day-to-day operations of a restaurant, hotel, pastry shop or department within a larger operation. They make sure the business runs smoothly, that service is prompt and courteous, that complaints and problems are resolved and that customer requests are carried out. Managers are also responsible for training and directing staff.
Chefs may compete and test for certification as master chefs. Although certification is not required to enter the field, it can be a measure of accomplishment and lead to further culinary career advancement and higher paying positions.
Pastry Assistants assist Pastry Chefs and create baked goods and confections under the Pastry Chef's supervision. After they have acquired a certain amount of experience, a Pastry Assistant may move on to the position of Pastry Chef where they can be responsible for creating a wide variety of pastries and baked goods and possibly supervise and/or train staff.
Pastry/Bread Shop/Candy Store Owner
If you've ever been to what you may have referred to as "that cute little pastry shop", or "the old fashioned candy store" or "the delicious fresh bread shop", you know you've been to a very special place. Those little shops are born out of the passion of pastry chefs and bakers whose lifelong dream may have been to own their own place and make it exactly the way they want it. Often a great deal of creativity goes into these small shops that are such a delight to customers and neighborhoods. They typically have very imaginative names and décor and an intimate "feel-good" atmosphere. But there are no rules, as an owner it's your baby – and most pastry shop and bakery owners treat it as such.
Pastry Chefs create a wide variety of baked goods and confections – everything from cookies and cakes to chocolates, petit fours, baguettes, tortes, laminated doughs and whatever their imagination can dream up! In a restaurant, the Pastry Chef can have the responsibility of developing and designing the dessert menu and all bread items – and may have an administrative role in larger restaurants where there's an entire pastry staff.
Pastry Finishers have an artistic flair and design skill. They use special tools and ingredients such as pastry cream and colored icings to create designs on everything from petit fours to large wedding cakes, as well as other special-occasion cakes, and pastries. They also shape pastries and cakes into various forms which are then decorated with edible designs such as flowers and letters.
Personal chefs plan and prepare meals in private homes for individual clients. They usually purchase the groceries and supplies they'll need and clean the kitchen after the meal is served. In some cases, a client may request that the chef serve the meals as well. Most chefs would be informed of their responsibilities before they accept a position with a prospective client. Personal chefs can also prepare meals in a client's home on a per occasion basis, for example a small dinner party. Some personal chefs run their own business. Rather than work for just one client, they have several. For these clients they prepare a variety of meals for an entire week – in their clients' kitchens, the chef's own kitchen, or at another location, depending on how they want to set up their business. Usually a week's worth of meals is delivered to the clients or available for the client to pick up. Managing several individual clients requires time management and organizational skills in addition to cooking expertise, but it also offers flexibility and allows chefs to control their own schedule and workload.
Chefs with a background in food science could combine that knowledge with their culinary expertise in a position as a research chef, testing new products and equipment for food manufacturers, marketers, restaurant chains, and other companies involved in the production of food products. This type of job can involve developing recipes, testing new formulas, and experimenting with taste and eye appeal of prepared foods.
Sales people sell a given product or product line to individual customers – usually in a retail environment, for example a pastry shop – or to buyers and purchasing agents for businesses such as restaurants and grocery stores. Retail Salespersons assist customers in finding the item(s) they are looking for and try to interest them in buying the merchandise. They should be knowledgeable about the products they are selling and be able to answer customers' questions. Sales Representatives primary duties are to make wholesale and retail buyers and purchasing agents interested in their merchandise and address any of their clients' questions and concerns.
Restaurant Manager/Food Service Manager
Restaurant Managers know it's good business to make customers happy. It's their job to keep things running smoothly in the dining room. They oversee the dining room staff to make sure the service is prompt and courteous. They monitor orders in the kitchen to determine where backups may occur and work with the chef to remedy any delays in service. And they make sure that tables are cleared quickly and set up for the next customer. Occasionally they may stop by tables to say hello and ask diners if they're enjoying their meal. Many people appreciate the personal attention and it gives the manager an opportunity to take care of any customer dissatisfaction.
Anyone who'd like to own their own restaurant is free to do so – but it's usually wise to have experience or training in the field, or to partner with someone who does. Owners make decisions about every aspect of their restaurant. They determine the type and quality of food, the décor, the level of service, hours of operation, staffing, and every other detail that goes into successfully running a restaurant. Experienced restaurant managers sometimes open a restaurant with a partner such as a chef or executive chef, each taking care of their particular area of expertise in addition to the multitude of decisions they share.
The Sous Chef is the second in command behind the Executive Chef and is a conductor of sorts. They are usually a chef school graduate with practical work experience. They finish and/or decorate special dishes or presentations. They may also have responsibilities that are not cooking related, such as maintaining kitchen records, estimating the types and quantities of food that need to be purchased, and inspecting the kitchen along with its equipment and utensils. The Sous Chef typically assumes the role of the Executive Chef in his or her absence.
Supervisors are responsible for overseeing, and directing the employees who work for them in a restaurant, hotel, pastry shop or department within an operation. They make sure all employees are doing their jobs satisfactorily and help solve problems that may arise. Depending on the operation, a Supervisor may have additional administrative responsibilities.
For more information about hospitality and culinary careers, contact us for a complimentary Career Guide.
*The jobs mentioned are examples of certain potential jobs, not a representation that these outcomes are more probable than others or that employment or externships are guaranteed.
*Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor on Food Preparation Workers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes352021.htm; Lodging Managers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119081.htm; Food Services Managers, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes119051.htm; Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes414011.htm; Retail Salespersons, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes412031.htm; and Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor on Food Services and Drinking Places, on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag722.htm.