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Career and Education Opportunities for Restaurant Chefs in Columbia, Maryland

Columbia, Maryland provides a wide variety of opportunities, both career and educational, for restaurant chefs. There are currently 11,810 working restaurant chefs in Maryland; this should grow 20% to 14,160 working restaurant chefs in the state by 2016. This is better than the nation as a whole, where employment opportunities for restaurant chefs are expected to grow by about 7.7%. Restaurant chefs generally prepare, season, and cook soups, meats, or other foodstuffs in restaurants.

The income of a restaurant chef is about $11 per hour or $24,140 per year on average in Maryland. In the U.S. as a whole, their income is about $10 per hour or $21,990 per year on average. Compared with people working in the overall category of Cooking, people working as restaurant chefs in Maryland earn less. They earn less than people working in the overall category of Cooking nationally. People working as restaurant chefs can fill a number of jobs, such as: executive chef, specialty foods cook, and sandwich artist.

There are 109 schools of higher education in the Columbia area, including six within twenty-five miles of Columbia where you can get a degree to start your career as a restaurant chef. Restaurant chefs usually hold a high school diploma or GED, so you can expect to spend only a short time training to become a restaurant chef if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Restaurant Chef

Restaurant Chef video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, restaurant chefs prepare, season, and cook soups, meats, or other foodstuffs in restaurants. They also may order supplies, keep records and accounts, price items on menu, or plan menu.

Restaurant chefs turn or stir foods to insure even cooking. They also season and cook food in line with recipes or personal judgment and experience. Equally important, restaurant chefs have to portion and garnish food, and serve food to waiters or customers. They are often called upon to observe and test foods to establish if they have been cooked sufficiently, using methods such as tasting or piercing them with utensils. They are expected to weigh and mix ingredients in line with recipes or personal judgment, using various kitchen utensils and equipment. Finally, restaurant chefs bake and steam meats, fish and other foods.

Every day, restaurant chefs are expected to be able to split focus between different tasks. They need to prioritize information for further consideration. It is also important that they articulate ideas and problems.

It is important for restaurant chefs to carve and trim meats such as beef and lamb for hot or cold service, or for sandwiches. They are often called upon to estimate expected food consumption, requisition or purchase supplies, or procure food from storage. They also direct and supervise work of kitchen staff. They are sometimes expected to confer with supervisory staff to develop menus, taking into consideration factors such as costs and special event needs. Somewhat less frequently, restaurant chefs are also expected to direct and supervise work of kitchen staff.

Restaurant chefs sometimes are asked to regulate temperature of ovens and roasters. They also have to be able to butcher and dress animals, fowl, or shellfish, or cut and bone meat before cooking And finally, they sometimes have to formulate and price menu items.

Like many other jobs, restaurant chefs must be reliable and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Columbia include:

  • Chef. Direct the preparation, seasoning, and cooking of salads, soups, or other foods. May plan and price menu items, order supplies, and keep records and accounts. May participate in cooking.
  • Food Service Aide. Perform a variety of food preparation duties other than cooking, such as preparing cold foods and shellfish, slicing meat, and brewing coffee or tea.
  • Food and Beverage Supervisor. Supervise workers engaged in preparing and serving food.
  • Institutional Cook. Prepare and cook large quantities of food for institutions, such as schools, hospitals, or cafeterias.
  • Personal Chef. Prepare meals in private homes.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Restaurant Chef Training

Stratford University - Falls Church, VA

Stratford University, 7777 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22043-2403. Stratford University is a small university located in Falls Church, Virginia. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 1,644 students. Stratford University has 2 areas of study related to Restaurant Chef. They are:

  • Cooking and Related Culinary Arts, associate's degree which graduated 59 students in 2008.
  • Culinary Arts/Chef Training, one to two year and associate's degree which graduated two and eight students respectively in 2008.

L'Academie de Cuisine - Gaithersburg, MD

L'Academie de Cuisine, 16006 Industrial Dr, Gaithersburg, MD 20877-1414. L'Academie de Cuisine is a small school located in Gaithersburg, Maryland. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 53 students and an admission rate of 83%. L'Academie de Cuisine has a two to four year program in Culinary Arts/Chef Training which graduated seventy-four students in 2008.

Baltimore City Community College - Baltimore, MD

Baltimore City Community College, 2901 Liberty Hts Ave, Baltimore, MD 21215-7893. Baltimore City Community College is a medium sized college located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 6,884 students. Baltimore City Community College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Culinary Arts/Chef Training which graduated eight and three students respectively in 2008.

Northern Virginia Community College - Annandale, VA

Northern Virginia Community College, 4001 Wakefield Chapel Rd, Annandale, VA 22003-3796. Northern Virginia Community College is a large college located in Annandale, Virginia. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 41,870 students. Northern Virginia Community College has a one to two year program in Cooking and Related Culinary Arts which graduated five students in 2008.

The Art Institute of Washington - Arlington, VA

The Art Institute of Washington, 1820 N Fort Myer Dr, Arlington, VA 22209-1802. The Art Institute of Washington is a small school located in Arlington, Virginia. It is a private for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs. It has 1,871 students and an admission rate of 56%. The Art Institute of Washington has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Culinary Arts/Chef Training which graduated thirteen and twenty-three students respectively in 2008.

Baltimore International College - Baltimore, MD

Baltimore International College, 17 Commerce Street, Commerce Exchange, Baltimore, MD 21202-3230. Baltimore International College is a small college located in Baltimore, Maryland. It is a private not-for-profit school with primarily 4-year or above programs and has 500 students. Baltimore International College has a one to two year and an associate's degree program in Culinary Arts/Chef Training which graduated eleven and seventy-three students respectively in 2008.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certified Culinarian: An entry level culinarian professional within a commercial foodservice operation.

For more information, see the American Culinary Federation, Inc. website.

Preventing Disease Transmission: A two-hour training module for employers and employees who, while on the job, may be exposed to blood or other body fluids that could cause infection.

For more information, see the American Red Cross website.

Quality Coffee Certification Program: The purpose of QCCP is to provide operators with sales tools and knowledge that will help them begin or enhance their own quality coffee program for their customers.

For more information, see the National Automatic Merchandising Association website.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Columbia, Maryland

Columbia, Maryland
Columbia, Maryland photo by Jeff Kubina

Columbia is located in Howard County, Maryland. It has a population of over 96,421. The cost of living index in Columbia, 100, is near the national average.

The three most popular industries for women in Columbia are educational services, health care, and professional, scientific, and technical services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, public administration, and educational services. The average travel time to work is about 30 minutes. More than 59.0% of Columbia residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 28.7%, is higher than the state average.

The percentage of Columbia residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 49.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. Abiding Savior Lutheran Church, Atholton Seventh Day Adventist Church and Long Reach Interfaith Center are all churches located in Columbia. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church and the Southern Baptist Convention.

Columbia is home to the Symphony Woods Office Center and the Rivers Corporate Park as well as Middle Patuxent Environmental Area and Clarksville Environmental Area. Shopping centers in the area include Governor Century Plaza Shopping Center, Atholton Shopping Center and Owen Brown Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Columbia can choose from PFMG, Courtyard by Marriott and Hilton Inn Columbia for temporary stays in the area.