The well-known Spanish proverb says it all. It’s the belly that rules the mind. If your mother’s culinary skills motivate you to try out new recipes, there could be a career for you in Culinary Arts. Meenakshi Amonkar, pursuing BA in Culinary Arts from WGSHA, Manipal University, who dreams of owning her own little pâtisserie one day, decided to choose this field for the way food connects cultures and people globally. “Apart from extensive lessons on cooking methods, management of resources and designing menu, we are also introduced to various fields like Food Photography and Journalism and Food Anthropology,” she says. If you have passed 10+2 in any stream- Science/Commerce/Arts- you are eligible to join an undergraduate degree programme in Culinary Arts. The minimum aggregate marks criteria vary from institute to institute.
Earlier, special occasions called for gatherings at home and a huge lunch or dinner, as the case may be, was a given. But now eating out is the in thing. This has aided the fast-paced growth of India’s hospitality sector with hotels and restaurants at the forefront, opening up huge opportunities for skilled personnel and chefs. Apart from authenticity, recent trends also show expansion of quick service restaurants, fusion concepts and restaurants offering delicacies of other countries as well.
According to Overseas Indian Facilitation Centre, the entry of foreign players like KFC, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Domino’s have created more opportunities in India. So, a career in Culinary Arts becomes an apt choice.
What is Culinary Arts?
The word culinary means “related to a kitchen or to cookery” and art is “human effort involved in food preparation and presentation of the dish”. As a course of study, Culinary Arts teaches you contemporary and classic cooking techniques and methods from around the world, food services and professional kitchen management. A degree programme will give you a comprehensive exposure to the field.
In a skill-based industry such as this one, industrial training and exposure are invaluable since they teach you not only about food processing and preparation but also help you hone your time management, team work and interaction skills.
Culinary Arts Vs. Hotel Management
Culinary Arts and Hotel Management are two sides of a coin. In Culinary Arts students are taught the basics of cooking and are groomed to become future chefs whereas Hotel Management teaches you management and operational aspects of hotel and restaurants that will fetch jobs as general managers, front office managers etc.
Culinary Arts courses are also available as one-year Diploma or six-month to one-year Certificate courses. Some institutes in India award BA (Culinary Arts) degree and some award BSc (Culinary Arts) degree.
Where you can study
A number of reputed institutes including Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad; Welcomegroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, Manipal offer BA or B.Sc programmes in table below. In some good news for students seeking a career in culinary field, the Union government has set up Indian Culinary Institute (ICI) in Tirupati, aimed at promoting Indian cuisine internationally. The first session of the Indian Culinary Institute will commence with a 3-year BSc programme in Culinary Arts.
Institutes offering Culinary Arts programmes –
Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration
BA in Culinary Arts
Symbiosis School of Culinary Arts
BSc in Culinary Arts
Culinary Academy of India
Three years’ Bachelor’s in Catering Technology and Culinary Arts (BCT&CA)
Indian Institute of Hotel Management & Culinary Arts
Bachelor’s in Catering Tech and Culinary Arts
Bachelor of Arts in International Culinary Arts
Four years’ BA (Hons) – Culinary Arts
The curriculum gives exposure to a variety of cuisines, bakery and service etiquette. It will also focus on learning about planning menus and a core aspect - finance. Visual cooking demonstrations are conducted with the help of a projector and video camera. This enables students to view close-ups as well as watch the videos later for reference.
Veteran chefs are also invited to share their culinary expertise with students. Along with theory, culinary programmes lay strong emphasis on practical training and exposure. Students get a taste of the work-grind on campus followed by a summer internship, spending time across various departments. Long hours and excellent physical stamina are part of the game.
After graduating in Culinary Arts, you can go for higher studies and specialize further. Culinary Academy of India (Hyderabad) offers Post Graduate Diploma Course in Culinary Arts after finishing your Bachelor’s in Hotel Management or Culinary Arts. You can also apply to institutions abroad like International Sommelier Guild (Canada) which offers certificate and diploma programmes specializing in wines. The Culinary Arts Academy (Switzerland) offers Master of International Business in Culinary Management.
A few years ago, jobs were hardly available for students graduating in Culinary Arts in India, forcing them to seek jobs abroad. However, all this has changed. Manoj Patkar, Deputy Director, Symbiosis School of Culinary Arts, Pune points out that the skill-based course is a good choice in India. He says, “A chef is one of the toughest professions for the current generation. It involves getting your hands dirty, a lot of physical work and a balanced cool mind, demands long working hours and sacrifices on the personal front. However, becoming a chef is indeed a good choice in India as the experience gained by working in kitchens makes one highly competent to face any challenge.”
A chef is one of the toughest professions for the current generation. However, becoming a chef is indeed a good choice in India as the experience gained by working in kitchens makes one highly competent to face any challenge.
Top recruiters in India are star hotels like ITC Hotels, Hyatt, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, Taj, Lemon Tree Hotels, Leela, stand-alone restaurants, airline catering like Taj SATS, cruise liners, quick service restaurants, to name a few.
A fresher who joins as a trainee chef can earn around Rs. 25,000. The salary could go up with experience in this field and you earn more than Rs. 40,000 per month. Executive chefs are the highest paid ones in this field, with salaries running into lakhs of rupees a month.
Other than becoming a chef, many other jobs are available in India. You can opt to become a food stylist/scientist/writer/critic, nutritionist, and technologist, caterer, cooking school instructor, cookery show host or an entrepreneur.
Qualities of a good chef
The scope for chefs abroad is better than that of India. You can even choose to work for meals on wheels. You can also opt to work in cruise, casinos, airline catering, hospitals and resorts. However, the role of a chef is not just to cook and serve delicious food to satiate your taste buds. They plan menu, managing teams, determine portion to be served and much more (Read Column by Corporate Chef, Chef Rajeev Janveja, in the previous page).
The possibilities of trial-and-error in the course being limitless and with a correct mixture of creativity and skill, culinary arts can indeed be an ideal career choice for you.
Cooking is love made visible
George Bernard Shaw once said, “There is no sincerer love than the love for food,” and I feel that cooking is love made visible. A chef is not just a person who cooks and serves good food. S/he must focus on assimilating as much as possible which include- trends, lifestyles and visual appeal, keeping in mind the quality and taste.
Thus, to assimilate the above is an art and to master it, budding chefs must explore the limitless possibilities of the culinary world. A basic philosophy is to prepare simple food with fresh, seasonal ingredients. All chefs have many qualities but two traits that distinguish a successful one from others are to accept criticism in good faith to further improve their skills and the tenacity of sustainability even in most stressful situations.
It is important for aspiring chefs to exercise something different and take risks as and when they grasp opportunities. Today’s budding chefs essentially must visit the grocery store, butcher shops to research about/for products; learn the art of lifting a bag of coal or cleaning their own sauce pans along with meeting top line chefs, exchange ideas and explore new culinary techniques. This will help them keep abreast of globally changing trends.
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