West Virginia Culinary Schools
West Virginia is a small state that is largely made up of rural communities. Despite its 1.8 million residents, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the population density here is lower than the national average. West Virginia is home to large cities like Charleston, Huntington, and Parkersburg. These cities are also the site of West Virginia's best restaurants, which include 1863 Restaurant, Colasessano's, and Key Ingredients.
As a resident of West Virginia, you can take advantage of its low cost of living. The cost of living in West Virginia is fully 14% below the national average. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average house cost in West Virginia is over $80,000 lower than the national average (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012).
There are 10 highly-ranked culinary schools in West Virginia, most of which are located in or near West Virginia cities. You don't have to worry about spending lots of money on your education, since the average cost of tuition is $3,754. In addition, the various scholarship opportunities in West Virginia can make an education even more affordable. The average scholarship award in West Virginia is $1,479.
There are three main fields you can choose from as a culinary student: culinary arts/chef training, food presentation, and baking/pastry arts. Culinary arts and chef training programs offer the same type of education. These programs tend to be the most thorough, covering all aspects of cooking, running a kitchen, and creating menus.
Food presentation programs offer many of the same courses as culinary arts programs, but they tend to focus more on how food is presented. This program can teach you how to create and plate food that allows diners to eat with their eyes first.
Baking and pastry arts is a field that focuses entirely on desserts. You do not learn savory cooking and preparation techniques. Baking is often considered a science, and this program can give you the skills you need to run a bakery or work as a pastry chef.
As you near the end of your culinary program, you need to start thinking about where you would like to work as a chef. There are many different ways to use this degree, from catering to working in a restaurant. In fact, restaurants are the most common place for chefs to work. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 46% of working chefs are employed in restaurants.
In addition, 13% of chefs are self-employed (BLS, 2012).You can become a self-employed chef by starting a catering company, working as an independent private chef, or opening a restaurant.
In West Virginia, some of the biggest culinary employers are Aladdin Food Management Services, Logan's Roadhouse, and Gecko Hospitality.
West Virginia is one of many states that has no laws regarding the licensure or certification of chefs. This can save you time, since you don't have to worry about applying for a license after graduation. However, you may wish to pursue American Culinary Federation certification. You must pass a written exam and skills exam to be able to get certified.
Different types of chefs get paid different salaries. Executive chefs are typically the highest paid members of a kitchen. Sous chefs earn slightly less, followed by line chefs. As a result, your earning potential can increase as you move up through the ranks.
Across the country, the demand for chefs and cooks is growing. The hospitality industry is constantly fluctuating and growing. Cooks can anticipate an 11% increase in job openings between 2010 and 2020 (O*Net,2010). The job outlook for chefs is not expected to change significantly.