Iowa Culinary Schools
The Midwestern state of Iowa has almost 3.1 million people, many of whom live in rural regions. Iowa has an economy based on farming, which is excellent for chefs. It means that chefs get immediate access to the freshest meat possible and in-season produce all year long. Despite its mostly rural layout, there are some large cities in Iowa, including Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Davenport.
A good reason to live and study in Iowa is its low cost of living. The cost of living in Iowa is 11% below the national average. This puts many of the state's best restaurants, including La Tavola, Shokai Sushi, and The Lantern within reach for residents.
Iowa is home to six excellent culinary arts training programs that offer a mix of certificate and Associate's degree programs. Schooling in this state tends to be very inexpensive, as the average tuition cost is $4,004. Many students are eligible for scholarship opportunities, as demonstrated by the average scholarship award of $2,097.
In the beginning stages of your degree program, you'll learn some of the most basic yet important kitchen skills. You may learn knife skills, which includes learning how to julienne, dice, and mince. You should also plan on learning about how to cook and prepare different types of protein to best bring out their flavor. In addition, you may begin learning about how to time food so that everything is done at the same time. These concepts are introduced early on because they are the backbone of your culinary career. You must be fast and accurate to work in a kitchen.
If you pursue a specialty in baking and pastry arts, you can plan on learning all the ins and outs of desserts and pastries. This degree program can prepare you to work in a bakery, take on a pastry chef job, or open your own bakery.
In addition to practical skills you need for the kitchen, you'll learn about safety laws and regulations that will direct how you prepare and store food safely. Be sure to retain this information, since some employers will test you on it before hiring you.
As a new chef, there are many ways you can use your cooking skills to get a career. You may be able to find entry-level work as a line chef or prep chef. This may be the most popular choice, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 46% of chefs work in restaurants. Caterers and private chefs are also in high demand in certain areas. If you have previous experience in business or management, you might be interested in opening your own restaurant or starting a catering company.
Iowa has many prominent culinary employers, including Fleming's Prime Steakhouse, Guckenheimer, and Patrice & Associates.
There are currently no licensure or certification requirements for chefs and cooks in Iowa, giving you freedom to work in either profession as soon as you finish your degree program. However, you may wish to pursue American Culinary Federation certification. They offer certification in fields like pastry, administration, and culinary arts.
As a new culinary graduate in Iowa, you may be wondering how much you can earn. You are likely going to start as a line chef. However, your earning potential is likely to increase as you work towards becoming a sous chef or executive chef.
In general, the demand for culinary professionals in Iowa is expected to increase between 2010 and 2020. Job openings for restaurant cooks are expected to increase by approximately 13% in this decade, while job openings for chefs are expected to grow by 1% in the same time frame (O*Net, 2010).