Good food is at the heart of the hospitality industry, and culinary arts degree courses prepare chefs to make rewarding contributions in their field daily.

Today’s gastronomy inspires both vacations abroad to sample regional recipes as well as trips to the local markets to gather ingredients for intimate meals with family and friends. Food preparation methods are also as varied as the skills and the creative abilities of the chefs.

Whether they are cooking up rich, French inspired dishes or mixing fresh flavors for unique raw, vegan meals, culinary professionals usually have the training to produce memorable gastronomy experiences.

Here are some of the courses that professional chefs take when pursuing culinary arts degrees.

Culinary Foundations and Food Safety

Every good, professionally prepared meal in a restaurant or other setting begins with knowledge of safe food handling techniques and a sanitary kitchen. Food safety is a core course topic at most culinary arts degree programs, and it is necessary for restaurant patron health and to maintain a restaurant’s license and reputation. After taking this course, students are usually prepared to take the national food safety certification examination that is required for all professional kitchen workers. Besides food safety, students are taught basic food preparation and cooking techniques like how to efficiently slice up vegetables and meats as well as how to make bases and sauces for a number of dishes.

Baking and Pastry Making

Nearly everyone has a sweet tooth when faced with delectable baked goods and desserts. While grandma’s homemade pies and cakes still satisfy, the professional touches that trained chefs can place on these treats can mentally transport one to some of the finest European patisseries. During baking and pastry making courses, students learn both the traditional and modern ways of making chocolate, bread dough, puddings and pies. Wedding cakes are a particular specialty of professional chefs who take baking and pastry making courses. These unique creations that feature moist, flavorful cakes with decorative icings made of butter creams or marzipan are the basis of a lucrative niche category within the field of culinary arts.

International Cooking Methods

Professional chefs as well as restaurant patrons enjoy the taste sensations that have origins in other cultures like India, Mexico, Ethiopia, China and the Caribbean. Many courses in challenging culinary arts programs expose students to the ingredients and cooking techniques that are responsible for producing the authentic flavors that so many people love. These cooking school students are also encouraged to mix flavors to produce unique fusion styled dishes.

Culinary Entrepreneurship

Some chefs want to fully use their culinary skills but do not desire the stress that working as head cooks in busy restaurants can bring. These professionals often decide to start their own catering businesses, and most culinary arts programs feature courses on culinary entrepreneurship that help to prepare chefs for the challenges of cooking food for large groups. These aspiring chefs learn how to create fresh, delicious dishes that are served buffet style in catered settings.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, chefs and head cooks do not require university degrees to cook. Some chefs are trained as apprentices under professionals who have great reputations in the industry, and they begin their careers with those credentials alone. However, many specialty, upscale restaurants prefer chefs who are professionally trained. Also, newly trained chefs are getting jobs leading culinary tours and managing high end event planning where employers want professionals who have benefited from challenging culinary arts degree courses at schools that are internationally, nationally or regionally known.