If you have always been passionate about juggling with eggs and butter or tossing salads in the kitchen and have a flair for cooking different cuisines that are available across the world, it is time to bring out the master chef in you. For those interested in polishing their culinary skills and pursuing their passion as their profession, there are a wide variety of courses available in institutes across the country.
Most people tend to believe that a culinary course is restricted to learning recipes and mastering the art of cooking. However experts and professors of these institutes point out that these courses are not just about cooking but also impart a variety of skills such as administration, communication and organisational management.
After pursuing a course in culinary arts, students also have a wide assortment of career options, some of which include food stylist, instructor, personal chef, executive chef, pastry chef, sommelier food consultant, food photographer, food critic and chef trainer. Many of the students also go on to work in the retail sector and also become entrepreneurs.
After the students complete their undergraduate degree, they are offered an initial salary of Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 15,000 per month based on their individual qualifications and experience. After five to six years, the salary multiples almost three times and they can earn anywhere between Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 60,000 per month.
Highlighting the monetary benefits of pursuing courses in culinary arts, K. Thiru, Associate Professor, Welcomgroup Academy of Culinary Arts (WACA), Manipal, said that an executive chef with good experience can earn anywhere from Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh per month and more. A minimum of eight to 10 years of experience is required to obtain that post. Suggesting tips to climb up the ladder quickly, Mr. Thiru said, “Creativity and innovation are important in this profession.”
Mr. Thiru said that people often do not understand the difference between a cook and a chef. “A cook is trained only in cooking. But a chef, besides his culinary skills, is a good administrator who ensures cost control and financial discipline and also develops customer relationships.”
Experts state that a chef should have physical and mental strength to sustain long hours of work and be willing to sacrifice his social life and work on weekends and holidays. “There is a need to have an open mind to acquire knowledge of a variety of cuisines from different parts of the world. The industry looks for candidates who have passion for cooking and those who also have a strong foundation. There is tremendous scope for those who specialise in Indian cuisine in Western countries”, Mr. Thiru added.
According to P.N. Raman, Director-Culinaire, Goa College of Hospitality and Culinary Education, Goa, a good chef must posses a good and creative attitude and aptitude. He should have an open mind to trying new ingredients and new equipment. “Since people travel a lot these days, they want the same food as available abroad. So, a chef should meet the needs of the guests.”
The WACA offers a three-year B.A. in Culinary Arts and is affiliated to the Manipal University. The WACA has a joint collaboration with the chain of ITC Hotels and Manipal University. The three-year course is divided into six semesters. During the sixth semester students will have the opportunity of undergoing a hotel professional development externship. Apart from this, they will have to undergo 12 weeks of industrial training which is spread over six weeks each in the second and fourth semesters.
Highlighting the key features of the programme, Mr. Thiru said, “We provide Wine Fundamental Certificate Levels 1 and 2 as we have tie-up with the International Sommelier Guild (ISG). We have industry partnership with the ITC Hotels. We have subjects such as Food Photography and Writing, Food Sociology and Anthropology.”