Fifty Minute Classroom

Aug 23, 2019, 22:16
Fine Dining is Fine—But There Are Other “Fine” Places to Work as Well
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Fine Dining is Fine—But There Are Other “Fine” Places to Work as Well

31 May 2017

Challenge your students to name career options beyond fine dining—there’s more than you realize.

By Chef Adam Weiner, CFSE

The end of the school year is here for many of you so here is an article for ending the school year.

I think it is just as important—perhaps more important—to teach your students life skills and job skills and not just cooking skills. Whether they are in high school, technical school, community college, or a culinary academy, students need to learn how to find a job.

(Note: You may wish to take a look at some articles I previously published on helping your students obtain jobs: Interview Skills, Teaching Your Students How to Get a Job Part I, Teaching Your Students How to Get a Job Part II, and Teaching the Value of Real Networking. Another article of interest for you to go over with your students at the end of the school year is Teaching Your Students How to Keep Their Job.)

Nearly all students feel that when they complete a culinary training course their only option is fine dining. That is far from the case. There are literally over 100 different options for them, but they get tunnel vision focused on fine dining. To get students to think out of the “fine dining is the only way to go” box, I play a little game in my class. I start at one end of the room and have each person name a type of place where she or he could get a good job utilizing a culinary background and write it on the board. I stress that they are to state a category, not a specific place. For example, someone can say “casual dining” but they can’t say Applebees, Dennys, Fridays, Waffle House, etc. Below is a list of 50, in no particular order of importance, but don’t give it to your students until AFTER they play the game. Make them think for themselves first—that way they will have a higher level of buy-in for considering other avenues of employment besides fine dining. (Note: One time my class took this up to over 120 items. The only limit is how long you want to spend on the game.)

  1. Corporate Dining
  2. Hospitals
  3. Casual Dining
  4. Food Trucks
  5. Catering (on site)
  6. Catering (off site)
  7. Food Courts in Malls
  8. Sample Presenter (such as you see in markets)
  9. Delis
  10. Bakery
  11. Supermarket
  12. Sports Arena
  13. Pre-schools
  14. Elementary Schools
  15. High Schools
  16. Colleges and Universities
  17. Train stations
  18. Bus stations
  19. Trains (such as Amtrak)
  20. Trains (such as tour trains or wine trains)
  21. Food Tour Guide
  22. Food Blogger
  23. Produce Stands or Produce Markets
  24. Airports
  25. Food Distributor Driver
  26. Warehouse for a Food Distributor
  27. Sales
  28. Food Stylist
  29. Food Photographer
  30. Cruise Ships
  31. Farmer’s Markets (selling food, working with farmers, etc.)
  32. Airlines Food Preparation (Yes, this still happens. I have many students preparing food for first class and international flights.)
  33. Fast Food (your students should be managers very soon)
  34. Pizza Places (your students should be managers very soon)
  35. Carnivals
  36. Fairs
  37. Night Clubs that serve food
  38. Bars that serve food
  39. Supper Clubs
  40. Boardwalks
  41. Amusement Parks
  42. Sandwich Shops
  43. Tourist Attractions
  44. Gyms and Athletic Clubs that serve food
  45. Teacher
  46. Retirement Center
  47. Brew Pubs
  48. Convalescent Home
  49. Assisted Living Facility
  50. Bulk Food Production
  51. Coffee Houses
  52. Military Bases (most have large civilian staff)
  53. Seafood Distributors
  54. Pop Ups
  55. Wine Tasting Room. Being a culinary student allows for better guest discussion around pairing food and wine and for selling wine if your graduate is of age. If not of age, many wineries have private events, on site food service, picnic items for sale, etc. for your graduates to prepare.
  56. Meat Distributors
  57. Meat Packing Houses
  58. Commissaries for QSR’s and Fast Food Establishments (many have their food prepared off site and just heat and serve.)
  59. Food Importers
  60. Food Exporters

(Yes, I know I said I was going to give you 50 examples and I went beyond that. That’s what happens with this game. When you start going you just keep coming up with more and more ideas. Let me know what ideas your class comes up with that aren’t on this list.)


Chef Adam Weiner, CFSE, teaches a 20-week Introduction to Cooking program for JobTrain on the San Francisco Peninsula, and is a frequent presenter at CAFÉ events throughout the nation. He is also a recipient of the prestigious Antonin Carême Medal.