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West Coast Culinary Career Outlook – "Economy" is Not a Bad Word

September 26, 2009 Le Cordon Bleu Seattle 0 Comments

The economy. These two words are frequently spoken in the news and in conversation, especially as it pertains to the job market. While at times, these two words connote a depressed job market and unemployed professionals, the truth is that the outlook is not quite as dreary as it appears, especially when it comes to West Coast culinary careers.

Nationwide, employment in the leisure and hospitality industry decreased by -2.6% between March 2008 and March 2009. Compare this to other industries, some of which saw employment decreases as high as -13.3%. In light of these numbers, it is evident that hospitality is withstanding recent economic events considerably better than some other industries.1

What’s more, the career outlook for food service professionals is promising. Below are just a few of the projections that reflect positive job growth for the West Coast.

  • California: Restaurants employ 1.4 million professionals, and there is an expected 14.9% in growth by 2019. That’s a total of 216,600 new restaurant jobs. 2
  • Oregon: Like California, this state could see an increase in restaurant jobs by 2019. Moving up from 174,600 to 208,500, that’s 19.5% in job growth. 3
  • Washington: By 2019 there should be 334,900 restaurant jobs in Washington. That’s a 19.2% jump from 281,000 restaurant jobs.4

Restaurant jobs represent 10 percent of the workforce in all three states making it a premier place to work. Because of the diverse population in these areas, there are also diverse restaurants on the scene, which range from fine dining to family eateries. Additionally, there are a variety of employers other than just restaurants. Here is a look at just a few.

Hotels and Resorts

Tourism is a mainstay to the West Coast economy. All the way south at Disney Land and headed up north to Olympic National Park, hotels and resorts dot the West Coast. The restaurants and cafes in these establishments offer everything from typical American breakfast buffets to upscale Italian dishes for dinner. In terms of chef career development, hotels and resorts offer a variety of positions for a chef, giving the culinary professional a unique look into the hospitality industry.


1 http://www.bls.gov/ro9/ceslosa.htm

2 http://www.restaurant.org/pdfs/research/state/california.pdf

3 http://www.restaurant.org/pdfs/research/state/oregon.pdf

4 http://www.restaurant.org/pdfs/research/state/washington.pdf

Cooking Schools

Don’t overlook a career at cooking schools. Professional chefs often choose to supplement their work with teaching or replace their work as a restaurant chef altogether by becoming a full-time cooking school instructor.

Catering Companies

Big events like weddings and professional conventions present an opportunity for employment as a chef within a catering company. Benefits of this type of employment include menu development, working with clients and event planners on a personal level, and changing your work environment frequently.

Hospitals, Schools, and Corporate Kitchens

Food service jobs that require large-scale food production require much skill and strategy. Chefs are often in high-demand at these organizations to ensure that a full menu is created and certain nutritional standards are met.

Personal Chef

It’s not just Hollywood superstars that hire a personal chef. Private career chefs are becoming more and more popular for busy working professionals. Many personal chefs enjoy the freedom of being self-employed or working for a small business.

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