Growing faster than the average for all occupations, culinary arts jobs are projected to grow 10 percent starting from 2016-2026. So, what has caused the recent demand for skilled labor in culinary arts careers? First and foremost, people like to eat. The other, less obvious reason is that many chefs and head cooks are nearing retirement age leading to a surge for employment in these fields.
Keeping this in mind, the U.S. Army offers its Soldiers unparalleled training in culinary careers that are not only beneficial while serving, but translatable and highly sought-after in the civilian world. Known as the chefs of the Army, Army Culinary Specialists (92G) are necessary to the success of the entire branch because they are responsible for keeping our Soldiers healthy and well fed. Army Culinary Specialists are typically in charge of feeding thousands of Soldiers in various Army Dining Facilities (DFAC), where Soldiers can sit down and grab a nutritious meal in between training or operational events. The culinary specialist is primarily responsible for the preparation and service of meals both in field and in military outpost food service operations.
The Culinary Specialist job option begins after the completion of Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. In order to qualify for the career, Soldiers need an 85 or higher aptitude score in the operators and food (OF) area of the test. Training kicks off with 10 weeks of Basic Combat Training and nine weeks of Advanced Individual Training with on-the-job instructions. Part of this time is spent in the classroom and part in the field, including practice in food preparation. During this time, Soldiers learn a variety of skills, including standard and dietetic menus and recipes, preparation and cooking of various foodstuffs and bakery products, food and supply ordering, and storage of meats, poultry and other perishable items. Currently, the Army is offering up to $12,000 as an enlistment bonus to pursue this field.
Not only do Soldiers in these fields receive unmatched training, they also have the opportunity to participate in culinary competitions that are part of the Army’s annual training for culinary specialists, such as the Joint Culinary Training Exercise (JCTE) – the largest annual military culinary competition in North America. The competition takes place in March and is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and highlights the talents of military chefs from around the globe in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
The U.S. Army Culinary Arts Team (USACAT) is the U.S. National Military Culinary Team and competes at the event each year. USACAT competes at local, national, and international culinary competitions, as well as provides training and conducts demonstrations all over the country.
The skills, training and certifications gained from being in an Army culinary field place Soldiers ahead of their peers when they transition into a civilian career because employers recognize the level of responsibility necessary to feed the Army team. Whether students learn these culinary skills through CTE or the U.S. Army, the creativity and dedication needed to master the culinary arts takes determination and practice.
To learn more about culinary arts careers in the U.S. Army, visit GoArmy.com or https://www.goarmy.com/careers-and-jobs/browse-career-and-job-categories/intelligence-and-combat-support/culinary-specialist.html.