Restaurants: Training and Continuing Education
For anyone trying to excel in the restaurant field, the proverbial "utensils in the kitchen drawer" come in the form of on-going training and continuing education. These are necessary not only for those new to the industry, but also for seasoned professionals. What’s more, various courses often are required for re-certification or by state and local regulations.
Exam Preparation Training
All certification-sponsoring organizations offer preparation courses and materials to assist with passing the applicable certification exams.
The American Culinary Federation's Educational Foundation provides certification training courses and practice certification exams on its eCulinary Professional Development Institute link. Similarly, the National Restaurant Association's Educational Foundation offers educational materials that correspond to the examination topics for its certification programs.
The NRA also recommends that students contact their state restaurant associations for additional training resources and locations.
Training & Continuing Education Programs
When it comes to tracking down training and continuing education opportunities for chefs or would-be chefs in the restaurant field, culinary schools represent the most obvious starting point. A key resource for professionals and those looking to enter the field, ACF accredits post-secondary education around the U.S., and its website provides a directory with links to the programs.
ACF's Educational Foundation, through its eCulinary Professional Development Institute, also offers its own professional development and apprenticeship training courses.
80 Continuing Education Hours (CEH) are required to maintain ACF certifications, renewable after five years. ACF accredits many online programs, seminars and other means of earning the CEH. These include attendance at annual meetings, reading the monthly publication and completing quizzes on the reading.
Helping define and uphold the standard for quality in the hospitality industry, the National Restaurant Association created ServSafe to provide restaurant owners and employees with up-to-date training and certification in safe and hygienic food handling. The company also focuses on the best environmental sanitation for a food preparation or storage facility. Possessing a ServSafe certification indicates the holder understands and adheres to the most modern government food regulations and preparation techniques.
Many state alcoholic beverage control groups now require proof of some sort of alcohol safe service training, and numerous state and local health departments require similar food safety training. ServSafe provides the texts, training and testing around the United States for these courses. Certification in these programs does need renewal, which varies by state - usually at least every three years.
The ServSafe website contains all information on testing and training in areas throughout the U.S., as well as details on becoming an instructor, proctor or obtaining dual-role status. There are also links to each state's regulatory body, detailing their requirements for certification and renewal.
An affiliate of the National Restaurant Association's Educational Foundation, the ManageFirst Program is a management development program offered at more than 350 colleges and universities, as well as in-house at many food service companies. The curriculum teaches practical skills such as communication, accounting and ethics, so that participants can effectively lead in the ever growing restaurant industry.
This not-for-profit organization, named after celebrated chef and food writer James Beard, offers scholarships, work-study grants, and continuing education courses for culinary students and professionals. An annual seminar focuses on issues such as sustainability and public health.
There are more than 50 state restaurant trade associations across the U.S., providing local training and continuing education for careers in the restaurant industry. Many also have educational foundations and provide scholarships to deserving students. The National Restaurant Association partners with these state trade associations and provides links to them from its Website.