by Jocelyn Tolbert
An education isn’t always enough. Ask any young person who’s having a hard time finding a job — companies often want experience, not just a piece of paper.
If you know that becoming a chef is for you, apprenticeship may be one of the most affordable and attainable ways to get started on a career path. No college classes or kitchen experience required — just a high school diploma (or the equivalent) and the desire to learn and work hard.
Next year, the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACFEF) celebrates our Culinary Apprenticeship Program‘s 45th anniversary. Founded in 1974, it was the first culinary apprenticeship program in the United States, offering its participants the chance to learn, grow and prepare for the next phase of their careers.
ACFEF Apprenticeship was started in 1974 by Jack Braun, CEC, AAC, HOF, Ferdinand Metz, CMC, WGMC, AAC, HOF, and L. Edwin Brown, HAAC, HHOF. ACFEF created a set of national guidelines for apprenticeship standards that were originally registered with the U.S. Department of Labor in 1979 and are continually updated to remain relevant to the evolving needs of the culinary industry. In 2012, the program received the 21st Century Registered Trailblazers and Innovators Award by the U.S. Department of Labor for its partnership with the U.S. Army.
“Ours is truly an apprenticeship industry, and by taking advantage of formal apprenticeship programs, you will receive valuable on-the-job experience, mentoring from qualified professionals and personal classroom instruction, all while earning a paycheck,” writes Cindy Komarinski, Ph.D., C.C.C., Incoming Chair, ACFEF Accrediting Commission. “By combining education with a willingness to work hard, aspiring chefs can create a recipe for success in one of America’s fastest growing industries.”
The culinary landscape is changing quickly and employers are looking for employees that can come to work on Day 1, ready to work as a professional with a high level of skill. Upon completion of the ACF’s Culinary Apprentice Program, not only will you have access to more job opportunities, you’ll be sought out for better job opportunities and better jobs mean better pay. In the culinary industry, a skilled apprentice is a valuable commodity.
Apprentices learn and master cooking and baking skills through coursework and on-the-job training under the direction of a chef. You will understand the requirements for proper food handling, sanitation and hygiene. You will gain an understanding of management and supervisory knowledge in preparation for a career in the culinary industry. You will acquire a professional work ethic necessary for success in the hospitality industry. You will be prepared for ACF professional CC®, CPC®, CSC®, or CWPC® certification testing.
The restaurant industry is a notoriously tough one, with long hours, physically demanding work and a high turnover rate. Those who want the title of Chef must be leaders who are dedicated, focused, creative and motivated to become professionals. And apprenticing under an experienced chef with all those qualities — not to mention a good recipe or two to share — is a great way to get there.
Help mold young culinarians into future chefs. Start an apprenticeship program in your kitchen today.