The variety of careers in the food industry is vast and eclectic. For example, if you love your Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs and are fascinated by the world of wine, you could become a winemaker. Otherwise, if you’re more artistic, you could consider food styling or food photography. Or, there’s the world of cookery jobs: commercial cooks, pastry chefs, bakers, executive chefs… the list goes on.
If any of these culinary careers sound particularly enticing, here are some of the steps you can take to score a job in the food industry.
A formal qualification is the best way to get your foot in the door of the food industry. Studying your chosen interest — whether as a degree, diploma, or certificate — gives you the necessary practical skills to make a start in the industry. Luckily, whatever your interest may be, there’s very likely a specialist course out there that will offer the appropriate training.
If cooking or baking is your goal, a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery or Patisserie will get you on the right path to becoming a chef or patissier. You’ll learn the basics of cookery or patisserie and practise your skills in the kitchen and in an industry placement.
If you have a mind for business and dream of running your own hotel, restaurant, bakery or specialty vegan doughnut emporium in the future, you’ll need management skills. You might want to undertake a Bachelor of Business that allows you to major in Hotel or Restaurant Management, or complete an Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management with a specialisation in patisserie or commercial cookery. CRICOS-registered institutions like Le Cordon Bleu offer these kinds of specialist degrees, giving you the necessary grounding for a career in hospitality management.
A cooking qualification like the Certificate III also provides relevant experience and an opportunity to build a portfolio before pursuing more specific careers, such as food styling or photography. You’ll be given the chance to style the food you cook, which you can photograph and add to your styling or photography portfolio.
Main Course: Work Experience
Upon graduating with your chosen qualification, you’ll need to gain some real-world experience and develop your new skills. This might mean sticking around in your host country or returning home with your new international education. In Australia, there is a range of visas available for international graduates looking to stay and gain work experience or employment after their studies.
If you’re looking to become a chef of any kind, you’ll need experience in a commercial kitchen. Usually, you’ll start out as a line cook or kitchen assistant to refine your talents and understand the work environment. Alternatively, aspiring chefs can consider applying for apprenticeships. These allow you to work full-time with professional chefs for a few years, learning the basics as you get paid for your work. As you gain more experience, you’ll be able to move up the ranks as a chef.
If you want to become a food stylist or photographer, there are short courses and workshops available Australia-wide to build your portfolio and get some practical experience.
Dessert: The Job
With qualifications and experience to support you, it’s time to build your career. If you’ve completed work experience at a particular business, you may be offered a full-time position. This means you’ll have the comfort and familiarity of a workplace and crew you know and understand. But, if you’re looking for a fresh start or are in search of career growth, it may be time to hit the job market.
Checking recruitment and job websites, as well as Facebook groups for hospitality workers, is the most convenient way to apply for jobs. Or, you could hit the streets with your CV and visit businesses personally – this face-to-face introduction could make you a more memorable candidate. Make sure potential employers know that you have a visa allowing you to work in Australia.
Another option could be to join associations that offer employment information, networking events, workshops and seminars to members. Often, the institution where you received your qualification will offer career guidance. For example, Le Cordon Bleu Australia’s Industry Engagement team supports students with career guidance and a lifelong membership to a global alumni network helps graduates to grow their careers in the food industry.