Culinary arts is an exciting career. Whether you’re currently enrolled in a culinary arts program, plan to enroll soon or simply love food, you probably know a great deal about the industry. However, these 11 fun culinary arts facts might surprise you.
The term “culinarian” describes culinary art professionals
Derived from the Latin word “culina,” culinary means cooking or cooking area. Anyone in the cooking industry is described as a culinarian.
The first cookbook was written on clay tablets
Dating to 1700 BC, the Yale Culinary Tablets include lists of ingredients written in cuneiform, an ancient writing system. Experts believe the recipes for meat and vegetable stews and savory and sweet breads were meant for royalty. Although the lists on the three clay tablets do not include directions, this cookbook offers insight into the foods of the times and is thought to be the oldest cookbook in the world.
A soup vendor may have opened the first restaurant
Legend has it that soup vendor Monsieur Boulanger began offering several selections of rich, fortifying soups and broths to his customers in 1765. He chose the name "restorative" or "restaurant" for the new business to match the nutritious health benefits of his menu offerings.
This innovative idea became common and gradually replaced the inn or hotel as the sole option for food and beverage purchases. The name “restaurant” is also still used to describe eating establishments that offer multiple dishes.
Fine dining originated in Paris
Parisian restaurant La Grande Taverne de Londres opened in 1782 and introduced luxury dining to city residents. Owner Antoine Beauvilliers is thought to be the first restaurateur to combine the four essential elements of fine dining, which include superior cooking, an elegant dining room, smart waiters, and a well-stocked wine cellar.
Beauvilliers also modeled how fine dining restaurant hosts and Maitre’ds should act. With a friendly manner and cheerful disposition, he recommended dishes to enjoy and to avoid and the wines that would pair well with the customer’s food selections.
The first celebrity chef specialised in elaborate plate presentations
Self-taught public chef Marie Antoine Carême created precise and elaborate plate presentations. He used pastry dough, spun sugar, glue, and wax to form classic architectural structures from Egypt, Greece and Rome.
Carême’s contributions to the culinary arts also included an emphasis on details. He introduced texture pairings, course ordering, food compatibility, and combining foods of several colors on one plate.
With his talents, Carême served Tsars, kings, diplomats, and other famous employers in the early 1800s. He was so popular that many chefs imitated his style and philosophy.
The first electric stove cooking demonstration was staged in 1895
Le Cordon Bleu began as a magazine before it became a world renowned cooking school. To promote the magazine and the launch of the school, the company staged a cooking demonstration. It was the first one ever to use an electric stove, an innovation of the time that ultimately made cooking easier for restaurant chefs and home cooks.
St. Martha is the patron saint of cooks
When Jesus visited the home of Martha and Mary in Bethany, Martha prepared a meal for him and his disciples. We recognize her cooking talents and servant attitude by acknowledging her as the patron saint of cooks and culinarians.
Culinary artists learn a variety of skills
Of course, culinary artists can complete fundamental tasks like chopping, dicing, sauteing, and grilling with ease. Successful culinary arts professionals know how to perform many additional tasks inside and outside of the kitchen too.
Culinary arts students learn how to compose sauces and gravies, assemble cold dishes, make entrees, prepare international cuisine, appreciate wine, create pastries, and work with chocolate. This profession also requires its students to understand food nutrition, learn sanitary practices, preserve food properly, plan a menu, and prepare for a catering event. These skills expand resumes and prepare culinary art school graduates to succeed in a variety of careers.
Culinary careers involve much more than cooking
When you think of culinary arts, you may think of chefs, prep cooks and bakers. However, career options and advancement opportunities are practically limitless for culinary arts professionals.
Culinary school graduates may manage a catering company, serve in hospitality positions, work in food science, or enforce food safety standards. Culinary experts may even serve in financing or Human Services departments, run public soup kitchens or work in government where they make food-related policies. Other culinary arts jobs include:
Lecturing at universities, training schools and hospitality conventions
Consulting with restaurants, hotels, hospitals, prisons, and schools
Designing menus, restaurants, kitchens, or bars
Selling specialty products like cheese, chocolate or meats
Writing about food for newspapers, magazines, blogs, or food service clients
Photographing food for caterers, magazines or menus
Researching and developing new recipes, creative presentations or foods
Teaching others about culinary arts
Owning a restaurant, bar or catering company as an entrepreneur.
Celebrate international food holidays
Around the globe, we celebrate different foods throughout the year. For example, April 4 is International Carrot Day, June 18 is International Sushi Day and October 1 is World Vegetarian Day. Celebrate these and other food holidays with your signature dish or create a new recipe in honor of the special occasion.
Culinary arts is a growing profession
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates an 11% growth in the culinary arts field for chefs and head cooks by 2028. The average salary is $48,460, but experience, training and position can affect the amount of money you earn in this field.
A career in culinary arts begins with an appreciation for food. These 11 fun facts can also remind you that working with food is enjoyable and rewarding. Consider an exciting career in culinary arts as you prepare for a lifetime of delicious surprises and joy.