Culinary ArtsSchools in Oklahoma
Rodgers and Hammerstein famously stated that Oklahoma is "...where the waving wheat can sure smell sweet, when the wind comes right behind the rain." Yet, nothing smells as sweet as the Sooner state's down-home cooking. From the annual Watermelon Festival to chili cook-offs and barbecue competitions, Oklahoma is a food lover's paradise. While many states have their own official state dish, Oklahoma is the only state in the union that can boast its own official state meal. The state's traditional and regional influences make culinary schools in Oklahoma a great place for any aspiring dietitian, nutritionist or chef to study.
The Advantages of Culinary Arts Schools in Oklahoma
Oklahoma has a rich and diverse food history which can be seen in the culinary traditions of the state. From chili to watermelon, chicken and corn pudding to pepper butter, Oklahoma cooking can truly be a diner's delight. Many of the state's traditional favorites are found in the official state meal - fried okra, squash, cornbread, barbecued pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken-fried steak, pecan pie, and black-eyed peas. Yet, due to its geographical location, the state's dishes blend the best of Southern, Cajun and Texan cooking styles. In addition, the state's large Native American population has influenced the culinary flavors as well. The wide array of local cooking styles in the state gives Oklahoma culinary schools a decided advantage over culinary schools based in other areas.
Although most people expect culinary schools to train chefs, the fact is that culinary schools can provide a great education for anybody interested in food and nutrition. Many graduates of culinary schools go on to work in a variety of areas both within and outside of the traditional restaurant industry. This may include operating a bakery, specialty restaurant or organic food store. For those who wish to become dietitians or nutritionists, a culinary education can be a great place to start that journey. Not only will they learn the basics of nutrition, but they will get the additional bonus of learning how to cook a great meal as well.
Oklahoma Culinary Employment Outlook
Graduates of Oklahoma culinary arts schools choosing to work in the state can expect good job opportunities in the years to come. The Oklahoma Restaurant Association projects industry employment to rise by 10.2 percent between 2012 and 2022. In addition, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) reports that restaurant industry sales are projected to reach $660.5 billion in 2013. That is up from $42.8 billion in 1970 and almost triple the sales from 1990. Restaurants in Oklahoma account for approximately $4.9 billion of that number and are responsible for 10 percent of Oklahoma's employment. Furthermore, the NRA reports that 71 percent of adults are attempting to eat healthier foods at restaurants than they did two years ago. These desires are reflected in some of the top industry trends, such as gluten-free cuisine and children's nutrition. New customer attitudes toward healthy foods create yet another avenue for dietitians and nutritionists to find work while posing a wonderful opportunity for culinary schools in Oklahoma and around the country to train their students in these new techniques.
Oklahoma Culinary Wages
Oklahoma culinary arts schools can prepare students for work not only in Oklahoma, but in the rest of the country as well. In Oklahoma, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the May 2012 annual mean salary for chefs and head cooks was $31,810, while first-line supervisors made about $27,230 (bls.gov/oes, 2012). The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that short order cooks annual mean salary was $18,340, while bartenders and servers make approximately $18,490, respectively.