Culinary Schools in Vermont
For Vermont's earliest pioneers, grain was an essential commodity: they needed it for sustenance and even used it as a form of currency. Early Vermonters also raised dairy cows for milk, cheese and butter and tapped maple trees for syrup. According to Iroquois legend, maple syrup was discovered when a Native man smelled something sweet emanating from his kettle of boiling meat. Purportedly, a maple limb had broken and dropped into the kettle (maplemuseum.com, 2013). Local food has remained a staple in Vermont, even through the processed food craze beginning in the 1950s.
The Advantages of Culinary Arts Schools in Vermont
With 99 active farmers markets and 164 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) providers, Vermont has more locavores per capita than anywhere else in the country, according to the 2012 Heifers Locavore Index (huffingtonpost.com, 2012). The Vermont Coalition for Food Sovereignty embodies the state's commitment to healthy and local food, hosting a Butter Appreciation Day and sending food activists to the streets to march for food safety. Culinary arts schools in Vermont fully embrace these commitments, and students might learn how to cook -- from everyday meals to gourmet dishes -- with a focus on local and healthy food.
Budding chefs are not the only ones attending Vermont culinary schools. Many people sign up for the sheer purpose of cooking better food for themselves and their families and friends. Cooking and dinner party clubs are multiplying in Vermont, and culinary courses can help prepare better hosts. Of course, many students attend culinary school to learn how to become a chef, baker, nutritionist or dietitian. Human nutritionists, in particular, are taking a central role in the state, with individuals, schools, hospitals and other organizations increasingly devoted to delicious and healthy food.
Vermont Culinary Employment Outlook
A 2011 Vermont Food Industry Economic Impact Study notes that 7.2 percent of Vermont's employees work in food-related jobs and that the food industry accounts for around 15 percent of the state's overall economy (vtgrocers.org, 2011). In a 2011 report, the National Restaurant Association (NRA) had good news for the state's culinary professionals: Vermont was one of two states that recorded the lowest unemployment east of the Mississippi, at 5.4 percent (restaurant.org, 2011).
The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that job options should be best for food-service professionals with innovative-thinking skills and business backgrounds. A strong foundation in local foods should help, as well, especially in Vermont, where locavorism has hit the lawmaking floor. In 2009, the "Farm to Plate Investment Program" was signed into law, with goals to increase local food options and multiply jobs tied to local foods (smallfarms.cornell.edu/, 2013). Such initiatives will help Vermont maintain its top position in locavorism, but the movement is building momentum nationally, too. As noted by the National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC), "Local food systems have to become the norm, not a niche" (nffc.net).
Vermont Culinary Wages
Many talents are needed to keep the culinary world running. There are head chefs, sous chefs, bakers, nutritionists and dietitians, bartenders, restaurant managers and more. For those who have the capacity and desire to cater to an elite crowd, the position of personal chef is an option.
The following table lists May 2012 annual mean wages -- from the Bureau of Labor Statistics -- for some culinary professionals in Vermont (bls.gov, 2012):
Culinary professionals often receive additional benefits not reflected in salaries, such as free or reduced-priced meals. Individuals who are passionate about food preparation and service, especially relating to local, healthy foods, might enjoy working in Vermont's culinary world.
Additional Resources for Students of Culinary Schools in Vermont:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, "May 2012 State Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates Vermont," http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_vt.htm
Cornell University, "Doubling Local Food in Vermont," Janurary 7, 2013, http://smallfarms.cornell.edu/2013/01/07/doubling-local-food-in-vermont/
Huffington Post, "Local Food Index Ranks Vermont At Top, Florida At Bottom," May 8, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/local-food-index_n_1499379.html
National Family Farm Coalition, "Local Food/ New Farmer Initiative," http://nffc.net/Issues/Local%20Food/page-localfood.htm
National Restaurant Association, "Economist's Notebook: Economic recovery becoming more broad-based on the state level," April 21, 2011, http://www.restaurant.org/News-Research/News/Economist%E2%80%99s-Notebook-Economic-recovery-becoming-mo
New England Maple Museum, "Indians and the Early Maple Sugaring Process," http://www.maplemuseum.com/indians-and-early-maple-sugaring-process
Smithsonian, "A Culinary Adventure in Vermont," April 20, 2010, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/A-Culinary-Adventure-in-Vermont.html
Vermont Grocers' Association, "Vermont Food Industry Economic Impact Study," 2011, http://www.vtgrocers.org/files/files/Vermont%20Summary%20Results%20and%20Methodology%2012%207%2011.pdf