Find your cullinary voice

We Wrote the Book

ICE students reading Rick Smilow's book Culinary Careers, How To Find Your Dream Job in Food.Mapping a Path for Culinary Careers

"For anyone in the food service business, or even thinking about it, this is a must have guide." - Tim Zagat

Cooking, baking, managing, producing, distilling, brewing, distributing, planning, marketing, writing, editing, photographing, filming, selling, designing—the career opportunities in the food industry today are seemingly endless. Culinary Careers: How to Get Your Dream Job in Food, with Advice from Top Culinary Professionals (Clarkson Potter, May 2010) is the only career book to offer candid portraits of dozens and dozens of coveted jobs at all levels to help you find your dream job.

Because so many career paths are possible, it can be hard to find out exactly what job would best suit oneself, or how to go about obtaining it, short of talking to everyone. In Culinary Careers, ICE President Rick Smilow and co-author Anne E. McBride did just that: They talked to people in all aspects of the industry about their education, career path, and day-to-day activities. They conceived Culinary Careers as a comprehensive guide to help students, career changers, prep cooks looking to move up, weary chefs in need of a new way to use their skills, budding food writers, or aspiring winemakers go about their job search and learn more about the industry as a whole.Buy Culinary Careers book by Rick Smilow on Amazon.


PRAISE FOR CULINARY CAREERS"If you suspect you might have the itch to make a mark anywhere in the hospitality industry, this is your book. It's chockfull of genuine insights, accurate information, and thoughtful advice from real people who have already walked in your shoes – or the ones you've been contemplating trying on." – Danny Meyer, restaurateur and author of Setting the Table"Smilow's book is recommended for readers seeking a thorough introductory exposure to today's professional possibilities in the culinary world." –Eric Peterson, The Library Journal"Thank Goodness Rick Smilow & Anne E. McBride have written Culinary Careers" – Gail Ciampa, Providence Journal"Smilow leaves no refrigerator unopened in this guide that is excellent for everyone from new grads to those contemplating a major career shift" – Lisa Messenger, Cooks Books"Culinary Careers does a great job laying out road maps for a career in the food world. And through its eighty-nine interviews, the book also conveys the passion and dedication that I see amongst my fellow chefs and restaurant professionals, around the nation." – Marcus Samuelsson"For anyone in the food service business, or even thinking about it, this is a must have guide." – Tim Zagat, Zagat Survey"Culinary Careers is a refreshingly unbiased introduction to the range of educational opportunities and careers available to those who see the world through the lens of food and cooking." – Bob delGrosso, A Hunger Artist"A heaping plate of solid, first-hand advice from real people in the business." – The Sacramento Bee

  • Get the ultimate in advice from those at the very pinnacle of the industry, including Thomas Keller, Daniel Boulud, Lidia Bastianich, David Chang, and Ruth Reichl.

  • Read about the inspiring—and sometimes unconventional—paths individuals took to reach their current positions in 89 in-depth profiles.

  • Learn what a food stylist’s day on the set of a major motion picture is like, how a top New York City restaurant publicity firm got off the ground, what to look for in a yacht crew before jumping on board as the chef, and so much more.

  • Find out what employers look for, and how you can put your best foot forward in interviews.

Culinary Careers opens with three chapters that cover three different career-building stages: Getting Started features information on educational needs for beginners and career changers alike, describing programs and schools around the country, along with some top international programs. This chapter also offers tips for resume writing and job interviews. Career Development and Growth gives advice on advancing one’s career, from developing a palate to acquiring additional education and credentials. It also discusses how to change jobs, which organizations to join and trade shows to attend, and networking both in person and online. The third chapter, Ownership and Entrepreneurship, addresses the many entrepreneurial opportunities that the food industry affords, from owning a restaurant or a food product company to a public relations firm or a catering company. It covers the pros and cons of ownership, the components of a business plan, permits and certifications, and investors.

The most unique feature of Culinary Careers are chapters 5-15, which include the exclusive interviews with both food-world luminaries and those on their way up, allowing readers to discover what a day in the life is really like in diverse areas of the culinary world. They also offer their thoughts on salaries in their field and what they look for in a new hire, for up-to-date, frank information on what one can expect to earn when working in the food industry. Those job category chapters are:

  • Lessons from the Stratosphere

  • Cooking

  • Pastry and Baking

  • Catering, Events, Personal and Private Chef Work

  • Management

  • Wine and Beverages

  • Food Artisans

  • Retail, Distribution, Sales

  • Media, Marketing, Public Relations

  • Assorted Business Services

  • Nutrition and Nonprofit

  • Education

The 89 interviews include chefs such as Thomas Keller (California, New York, Las Vegas), Daniel Boulud (New York, Palm Beach, Las Vegas, Vancouver, China), Dan Barber, David Chang (New York), Rick Bayless, Graham Elliot Bowles (Chicago), Joseph Wrede (Taos, New Mexico), and Kelly Liken (Vail, Colorado); pastry chefs such as Gale Gand (Chicago), François Payard (New York, Las Vegas, Brazil), Mindy Segal (Chicago), Erin McKenna (New York, Los Angeles), Michael Laiskonis (New York), and cake designer Elisa Strauss (New York); people from the media world such as Ruth Reichl (author, former editor-in-chief of Gourmet), Michael Ruhlman (author), Gail Simmons (Food & Wine , Top Chef ), Molly Wizenberg (the blog Orangette, Bon Appétit ), and Susan Spungen (food stylist, former food editor, Martha Stewart Living); food artisans such as Zingerman’s Ari Weinzweig, Chef’s Garden Lee Jones, Allagash Brewing Company’s Rob Tod, and Savannah Bee Company’s Ted Dennard; as well as sommeliers, caterers, company owners, media producers, stylists, photographers, publicists, consultants, educators, and more.

Culinary Careers (352 pages, $16.99) is available for sale at bookstores nationwide, online at, and at ICE.

Consumer Reviews from and More

“I went to an event at ICE where Rick and Anne were discussing this book. Its a great book. I've been considering going to culinary school for some time now. I'm in the midst of a career change. I've don't some research within the industry for salaries, growth etc. BUT this book breaks everything down for you. I read this book in 3 days. It made me feel better about the path i would like and plan on taking. The book tells it like it is. Working as a chef is hardwork and long hours but the rewards in the end are all worth it. I think TV has romanticize what being a chef is - it doesn't give you the good, the bad and the ugly. This book definitely does. I highly recommend it to anyone considering a career in culinary.”
—Barb C.

“I am considering a career in the culinary field and this book has been an immense help in providing some insight into what different jobs and career paths are like. It's interesting because you can read interviews straight from well-known and lesser known people in the industry. Sometimes their interviews reveal information you never would have guessed.”
—A Kid’s Review

“Culinary Careers met expectations, proving an insightful and helpful read. Mainly due to the many interviews from experts, novices and career changers that work in the culinary industry. I suggest this book to anybody considering a career change or a leap into the culinary industry.”

This book is a plethera of who's who in the industry and the many different career considerations to ponder. The book is like a menu that really opens one's eyes to the many opportunities in the culinary world. Rick and Anne have been in a unique position to meet and interview the many different people in this book over the past 15 years. The indepth research and dedication of getting this book right for the public really shows. Many of the individuals interviewed and featured really opened up and shared some key ingredients for the recipe for success. The book, Culinary Careers, is an excellent starting point for someone pondering a culinary career.
— Shadowbulldog

As a culinary arts career student, this book is not one to pass up. Rick Smilow knows his information and generously expresses it in an approachable fashion.
— Melanie Moss

I am still working my way through Culinary Careers, but already I am blown away. For so long culinary education and the food service field in general have intimidated many, myself included. Books like this, that make the profession accessible and point those of us searching for answers in the right direction, I believe will make a positive difference in the future of our industry.
— Nikki Mickman

About the authors:

RICK SMILOW is the president and CEO of the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). During his tenure, ICE has grown to become one of the nation’s leading culinary education centers, winning two coveted awards from the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Smilow has an MBA from the Kellogg School and has held corporate and entrepreneurial marketing positions prior to acquiring ICE in 1995 and landing his dream job. He is also a director of Daniel Boulud’s Dinex Restaurant Group and a board member of City Harvest and Careers through Culinary Arts Program.

ANNE E. MCBRIDE is a food writer and editor. With famed pastry chef François Payard, she wrote Chocolate Epiphany (Clarkson Potter, 2008) and Bite Size (William Morrow, 2006), and is formerly the senior cookbook editor at Hippocrene Books. McBride is the director of the Experimental Cuisine Collective, an interdisciplinary group of scientists, chefs, media personalities, academics, and food enthusiasts that examines the connections between food and science. She is working towards a Ph.D. in food studies at New York University, where she also teaches, and sits on the board of the Association for the Study of Food and Society and the New York Women’s Culinary Alliance.

ICE launches the publication of Rick Smilow's book Culinary Careers.