Culinary management, cookery, culinary school and commercial cooking: if you’re searching for a course to prepare you for a career in hospitality you’re likely to come across all these different terms.
But what exactly do they mean, and how do you know which course is the right one for you?
Of course, everyone has different requirements when it comes to their education. In order to choose the right course, you will need to gain a clear understanding of:
- What skills you can expect to learn in a culinary management or cookery course.
- What qualifications can you gain studying cookery or culinary management, how long do they take to complete, and how many hours a week do you have to attend?
- What jobs and careers you can expect to get after graduation.
To begin with, let's take a look at some simple definitions.
‘Cookery’ simply means the art and practice of cooking and preparing food. The terms ‘commercial cookery’ or ‘commercial cooking’ refer to the practice of preparing food on a commercial or a large scale, as opposed to at home cooking.
‘Culinary’ refers to everything related to cooking and the preparation of food. A ‘culinary school’ is an institution that offers cooking or culinary courses, and usually also courses in culinary management, beverage and gastronomy. A ‘culinary course’ typically offers a deeper education into cooking and food science than a short-term course in cookery or commercial cooking.
A course in ‘culinary arts’ also typically refers to the study of cooking, but degree level programs in culinary arts can also cover broader topics, such as operations, beverage and business management.
Finally, ‘culinary management’ refers to cooking, but also all other aspects of management involved in running any kind of culinary business, including a restaurant, hotel kitchen or catering company.
What you learn in a cookery course vs a culinary management course
The big difference between a cookery course and a culinary management course is that cookery is focused solely on teaching food preparation and cooking skills, whereas a culinary management course includes cookery and food preparation, but is also much broader and deeper in its content.
A cookery course will teach you important cooking skills such as:
- Knife skills
- How to make and use sauces
- How to season food using herbs and spices
- Different cooking methods such as grilling, braising, baking, or sautéing
- Menu design
- How to cook different ingredients and cuisines
- Presentation of food
- Managing kitchen operations and staff
- Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) rules and regulations
On the other hand, in a culinary management course you will study all of the cooking techniques you need to be a chef, but you will also learn about food science, beverage, operations, business and management skills relevant to the hospitality industry.
For example, core subjects covered by a Bachelor of Culinary Management at Torrens University Australia include:
- Kitchen Operations
- Customer Experience Management
- Business Communications
- Menu Engineering and Design
- Marketing Fundamentals
- Understanding People and Organisations
- Wine and Beverage Management
- Planning and Designing Hospitality Venues
Studying cookery or culinary management: what types of qualification can you get, how many hours are involved, and how long do they take to complete?
Studying cookery, patisserie or commercial cookery in Australia typically involves enrolling in a Certificate III, Certificate IV, Diploma or Advanced Diploma level of qualification, at a TAFE, private college or training institution. These courses typically:
- Teach cooking skills,
- involve mainly hands-on learning,
- have few entry requirements
- and can be completed at a full-time workload within six months to two years.
If you want to study culinary management or similar course, you can also enrol in a Diploma or Advanced Diploma level of qualification. In addition, you also have the choice of enrolling in an Associate Degree (a pathway degree to a bachelor) or a Bachelor Degree level of qualification, which:
- Teaches cookery and management skills,
- involves theory and hands-on learning,
- may have more stringent entry requirements
- and will typically take three years to complete, with a full-time workload.
Jobs you can get with a course in cookery vs a culinary management degree
A cookery course, such as a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery is designed to train you up as a professional cook or chef, ready to work in a restaurant, hotel, cafe or commercial kitchen. You could become:
- Sous Chef
- Line Cook
- Commercial Cook
- Banquet Cook
- Bistro Chef
- Food Safety Supervisor
A Bachelor of Culinary Management or similar bachelor level degree in culinary arts is designed to train you up as a cook who is also equipped with a broader set of management skills across different areas of business.
The broad scope of a bachelor degree will allow you to branch out into different areas of the hospitality industry if you choose, as well as having the option to work as a professional chef, which is highly sought after and on Australia’s Skilled Migration list. You can choose from a career as a:
- Executive Chef
- Restaurant Manager or Owner
- Operations Manager
- Food and Beverage Manager in Hotels and Tourism
- Executive Sous Chef
- Food Writer or Critic
- Beverage or Wine Professional
- Culinary Instructor
- Nutritionist or Food Health Professional
- Pastry Chef
If you want to branch out into different areas in the hospitality industry such as restaurant management, wine and beverage, patisserie, food education, operations or gastronomy, you may want to consider getting a full bachelor degree in culinary management or culinary arts.
If you only want to learn cooking and kitchen operations, on the other hand, a certificate or diploma in cookery might be the ideal choice.