Actors, directors and producers aren't the only celebrities in Los Angeles. Many famous chefs have kept L.A. a destination for foodies, thanks to innovative preparation, respect for Hollywood restaurant tradition, and great service.
Students in Culinary Arts programs in Los Angeles will find excellent opportunities to study cooking and get hands-on learning experiences in some of the best restaurants in the U.S., such as The Palm and Cafe La Bohème.
Much like acting, becoming a chef takes dedication, hard work, sweat, and, sometimes, tears. (Watching enough Top Chef is proof of that). But if you know that this is the life for you, it can be immensely rewarding.
Career Paths for Chefs
Chefs in Los Angeles, as elsewhere, must rise throught the ranks if they wish to become Chef de Cuisine or Sous Chef at a top restaurant, but high-end restaurant work is not the only paying gig.
Jobs can be found in a variety of places in Los Angeles. They include:
- Small, individually run restaurants
The independent restaurants staffed by just one or two chefs. These cover everything from Mom-and-Pop operations (like Restaurant Aio in Little Tokyo) to a chef-owned fine dining establishment.
- Corporate restaurants
You know these restaurants well. They share menus, management, and methods, no matter where they're based. Corporate restaurants are often a good starting place.
- Hotels and Resorts
Hotels offer a great deal of variety in one location, allowing growth and challenge without changing employers. Hotels and resorts in Los Angeles usually have several restaurants on the premises, as well as banquet facilities and specialized service areas, such as a bakeshop or butcher. Work at restaurants like the Casa del Mar's Catch or the Four Seasons- Beverly Hills poolside Cabana. At high-end resorts, you might also craft in-room dining experiences.
- Catering Companies / Insitutions
Catering companies tend to have few full-time positions, but they are a great place for temporary employment or side jobs to boost your income. Institutional foodservice (retirement homes, corporate lunch rooms, hospitals and schools) are not always on the cutting edge of culinary, but they offer great hours and benefits.
- Personal (or private) chefs
Especially popular in Los Angeles, the personal chef industry has developed into a kind of specialized catering company. Personal chefs often have several clients, and, rather than cook on a daily basis, they prepare a series of meals to last the week. This can be done in a client's home, or at a centralized kitchen where meals are then packaged for delivery. This style of personal service allows the chef to schedule their own time and amount of work -- a benefit that is reflected in the increasing number of chefs in this category.
- Other Culinary Careers
There are many other areas that you could pursue with a culinary degree. Chefs can be found working for major food companies in research and development, in research for large restaurant chains, or as production chefs for specialty food producers.