As a culinary student, you may have realized that networking opportunities with other food professionals and students can add another level to your learning experiences in the kitchen and classroom. Shows, expositions, food festivals, association meetings, internships and cooking competitions are just some of the different ways you can network. Below you will find some networking opportunities for Pennsylvania culinary students.
Join a PA Chapter of the American Culinary Federation
Like many other professions, one good way to network is to join a professional association that can provide education and other resources for those in the industry. The American Culinary Federation is considered “the standard of excellence for chefs.” It has chapters all across Pennsylvania, including Harrisburg, Allentown-Lehigh Valley, Philadelphia, Lancaster and York, Johnstown, and Pittsburgh. You can join at different levels of membership. Chapter meetings provide opportunities to meet and network with professional and student chefs and to engage in things like knife skills competitions, meetings on trends in the industry, and of course, dinners.
Check Out Internships and Travel Programs Through Your Culinary School
When you’re enrolled in a cooking school or culinary institute, take advantage of your time with teachers and mentors to learn as much as you can. They and your school’s career development specialists can offer you advice about networking opportunities, including summer or other seasonal internships. Internships can not only offer you the chance to study specific types of cuisine, but to gain new professional contacts. Just as an example, the culinary schools connected to the Art Institutes in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia partner with the Universita dei Sapori in Italy to give students a chance to travel there and study Italian cooking.
Attend Food Expos and Other Events
Once you have looked up food festivals and expositions across Pennsylvania, you might want to “like” a few of their social media pages to stay connected to upcoming events. Because the state’s culinary scene is thriving, you’ll find many of these events, including ones sponsored by Good Taste! Pittsburgh. Their Hometown Homegrown Food Expo in the autumn is a must-experience where you can meet chefs, sample great food and wine, watch chefs at work in the kitchen classroom, and just generally enjoy hanging out with others who love the Pittsburgh food scene.
Participate In or Attend a Cooking Competition
There are many opportunities to meet other culinary students and professionals while you’re attending or perhaps even competing in local competitions. In Pennsylvania, some of these competitions will be in urban areas while others may showcase the richness of PA agriculture. One example of the latter is the PA Preferred Culinary Connection Chef Competition, held as part of the Culinary Connection eight day festival that highlights food displays and cooking exhibitions at the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show. This is a great way to sample foods of the state while learning new techniques and meeting new people.
Engage in Online Learning
Some PA culinary schools, like the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, offer students the chance to complete certain degree levels online. In the case of PCI, they give you a chance to work on your bachelor’s degree in Le Cordon Bleu culinary management online if you have already completed a two year degree. Online learning opens up further networking opportunities in and beyond Pennsylvania.
In all of these networking opportunities for Pennsylvania culinary students, perhaps the most important ingredient is student curiosity. If you’re genuinely curious about learning more, the thriving culinary scene in Pennsylvania offers you ample opportunities to do so.