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Food Service Industry:

A Growth Industry in a Down Economy

by Gabby Hyman

It is a well-versed truism that higher education leads to higher earnings. However, in a down economy, it isn't just having a degree that's important. The subject you study plays a key role in determining whether your credentials are a passport to a successful career. A degree from a culinary college or cooking school will provide just that. After the travel industry, the food service industry is the fastest growing sector of the US economy. The restaurant trade in particular is booming. Americans are eating out more than ever, with the result that sales reached over $400 billion in 2002, up 4% on 2001. The upward trend is set to continue with sales in 2003 estimated to increase by another 4.5%.

The healthy state of the restaurant industry is good news for anyone training in the culinary arts today. The US department of labor reports that job openings in the food service industry will be plentiful through at least 2010. Also good news is the fact that 31% of restaurant income in 2002 went on salaries and wages. Demand is increasing fastest at the top end of the market, which is where the executive chef positions and higher salaries are to be found.

Get the skills for success

The educational training you receive in a culinary arts degree program can provide you with the knowledge and expertise to work in whatever part of the culinary industry you choose. Orlando Culinary Academy and California School of Culinary Arts likewise can equip students with the broad-based, hands-on experience they need to make the most of the diversity of rewarding career opportunities in the culinary and hospitality industries.

Many schools, such as those mentioned, are associated with the world-renowned Le Cordon Bleu. If that is what you are looking for, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Atlanta* or Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Las Vegas** might be for you. The Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Minneapolis-St. Paul offers industry-current facilities in which to perfect your techniques and release your creativity.

A quality culinary degree program can provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to master recognized traditions, learn the latest innovations and develop their own style as a chef. Students can learn the theory and the practice, from the technicalities of sanitation to the techniques of classical French cooking, and get a feel for the realities of the restaurant business, bolstered by placements spent gaining valuable hands-on experience. Programs such as those offered at California School of Culinary Arts and Orlando Culinary Academy include externships that put students into real-life restaurant environments, providing opportunities to gain practical know-how and make valuable contacts within the industry.

There are many types of culinary degree programs available so it is important to consider whether certain areas of the industry are likely to suit you better. If the management side of the industry is better suited to your strengths, restaurant management and hospitality degree programs at Pennsylvania Culinary Institute or Scottsdale Culinary Institute can provide the relevant knowledge to develop your business acumen. Alternatively, Western Culinary Institute offers an Associate of Occupational Studies in Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality & Restaurant Management, and California School of Culinary Arts offers a Hospitality and Restaurant Management diploma program designed to get your career started fast.

A future of choice

Once, cooking was once seen as either a hobby or a chore. Now it is rightly regarded as a highly skilled profession within a multi-billion dollar industry. The restaurant industry is now the biggest employer in the US besides the government. 11.7 million employees - 9% of all people employed in the US - work in the restaurant industry. By 2012 it is estimated that the number of employees will rise to 13.3 million. There is clearly a bright future for anyone training in culinary arts and science today.

It may be your dream to work as a chef in a busy restaurant, where you'll thrive on the pressure. Or you may prefer a career as a nutritionist at a peaceful health resort. Whatever you chose to do with your culinary degree, the right program for you will open the door to an exciting career within a dynamic, evolving industry.

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