Culinary Schools in Colorado
Colorado was once a wild frontier land. There was gold to be had in the hills, but soon the pioneering residents realized there was gold of a different kind to be had in the rich farmland. By the 1890s, the farms in Colorado were producing more cash flow than the gold mines. Sugar beets became the crop of choice, wide-open spaces encouraged ranching, and the abundant wild game meant that all types of meat -- venison, elk, moose and even bear -- were plentiful for those who had good aim.
Today, Colorado restaurants still look to wild game to flavor their menus. The sugar beets are still there, but so are many other crops that grow like weeds in the fertile mountain soil. From specialty chili to elk jerky to the unique delicacy known as Rocky Mountain oysters, Colorado has plenty of variety for aspiring chefs to crow about.
The Advantages of Culinary Arts Schools in Colorado
Students in culinary arts schools in Colorado can find a multitude of opportunities to hone their skills. The cities of Denver, Boulder and Aspen offer numerous five-star restaurants and catering companies. Organic farming and ranching has become popular in the Plains area of the state, which means more local food for chefs to explore. Game hunting is always a big draw in Colorado, and it is not unusual to find elk and other wild game on the menu.
Aspiring cooks or bakers who have an eye toward nutrition and healthy diets also might find a comfortable home in a small restaurant, bakery or specialty shop in Colorado.
Colorado Culinary Employment Outlook
Graduates of Colorado culinary schools may look forward to healthy job growth in the state. According to the Colorado LMI Gateway, restaurant cooks will see job growth of 28.3 percent from 2011 to 2021. Other projections include institution and cafeteria cooks at 21.9 percent, private household cooks at 22.2 percent, and cooks and food prep workers at 22.1 percent growth. First-line supervisors and managers are projected to experience job growth of 23 percent, while bartenders may enjoy growth of 19.4 percent.
The growth of restaurant cook positions could be a way for employers to save money, as head chefs tend to demand higher salaries. Nontraditional food services, such as delis in grocery stores or catering operations, are expected to be a source of higher employment demand, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov/ooh, 2012). Overall, the National Restaurant Association expects growth of culinary positions to hit 13.6 percent in Colorado from 2013 to 2023.
Future trends for the restaurant industry may also influence employment in coming years. The move to fresher "farm to table" foods, featuring local and sustainable foods, can create new opportunities for chefs to spread their creative wings. The push for healthier versions of old comfort foods, bold flavors and less use of fats, sugars and artificial ingredients could open the door to challenging positions for those with an eye toward creating nutritious fare.
Colorado Culinary Wages
Those who graduate from Colorado culinary arts schools might find a nice paycheck waiting for them after all those meals are prepared. According to Colorado LMI Gateway, chefs and head cooks made a median wage of $44,024 per year in 2012, while restaurant cooks made about half that, at $22,929. Other culinary occupations include first-line supervisors or managers at $32,738 per year, bartenders at $18,529, and institution or cafeteria cooks at $24,523.
Whether cooking up fresh-caught trout from the streams or turning to local farms for sustainable agriculture and meats, aspiring culinary gurus are likely to find the skills and knowledge they need through Colorado culinary schools.