Overview of Culinary Careers in New York

The New York culinary scene is one of the strongest in the United States, and even the world. Lead of course by New York City, where the diversity of culinary experiences may be unmatched the world over. Whether you’re looking for South East Asian street food at 3am for just a few dollars, or a world class three star Michelin experience you’ll be able to find it in New York City.

But culinary experiences, as the career opportunities, extend well beyond the five boroughs. The other major cities & metropolitan areas, like Buffalo, Rochester, Albany all have thriving culinary communities.

New York is home to 16 of the 100 Best Restaurants in America (according to OpenTable) including 3 of the top 10:

  • Sushi Nakazawa - New York City, NY
  • Blue Hill at Stone Barns - Pocantico Hill, NY
  • Daniel - New York, NY

With the diversity of options in New York, culinary professionals may have the opportunities to:

Work at a broad range of service levels, from street food to family restaurants to fine dining

Get exposed to a diverse variety of culinary styles & cuisines

Be part of an field that expected grow by 5.7% over the next year (for chefs, cooks & food service managers (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/ShortTerm). Over the next ten years, cook & food service manager jobs are expected to grow more than 10% (http://www.projectionscentral.com/Projections/LongTerm

Enjoy the an average wage for New York cooks that is ranked 11th in the nation (XLS SpreadSheet with BLS data.)

Given all that, it’s logical that New York employs 223,120 http://data.bls.gov/oes/search.jsp?data_tool=OES Chefs & Head Chefs, Cooks & Line Cooks, Bakers & pastry chefs, and Hospitality management employees across its restaurants, institutions, bars, and other venues. Cooks in New York will often work at more than one restaurant or food venue, many also working as private chefs or offering cooking lessons on the side.

Employment & Salary Trends in New York

New York employees 223,120 http://data.bls.gov/oes/search.jsp?data_tool=OES people has chefs & head chefs, cooks, bartenders, bakers & pastry chefs, and food service managers, and there is a fair amount of mobility among those jobs. Employees both leave their current employer for a better job, and frequently advanced to more senior roles as they gain experience.

The average salary in New York for chefs, cooks, bartenders & their managers is $29,887 per year.  But as you’d expect there is quite a bit of variability among job types & employees. 

Chefs & Head Chefs tend to earn the most with an average salary of $46,720 (BLS May 2015 Data), with is down from $50,430 a year ago (BLS May 2014 data http://www.bls.gov/oes/2014/may/oes_ny.htm#35-0000). The top 10% of chefs earn a lot more than the average, at nearly $80,000 per year. (XLS SpreadSheet with BLS data)

Food Service managers are the next most highly paid with average annual earnings of $37,700, which is up from $36,880 in 2014.  The top 10% highest paid managers, most likely working at higher end restaurants earn over $60,000 per year (XLS SpreadSheet with BLS data).

Restaurant Cooks have the most wage variability depending on several factors. Restaurant cooks on average earned $27,250 per year in May 2015 BLS data, which is up from $26,640 last year.  Experience cooks, at the top 10% of the paid scale, earn over $38,000 per year. (XLS SpreadSheet with BLS data)

All in all, New York, relative to other states is a great place to be have a culinary job, with the average annual earnings for Chefs & Head Chefs, Cooks, Bakers, Bartenders & Food Service managers, all above the national average.

Restaurants cook salaries rank 12 among the 50 states, ahead of Washington State, and behind Connecticut. (XLS SpreadSheet with BLS data)

Chef and head chef salaries rank a bit worse nationally at 21st.  Ahead of Minnesota and behind Wyoming. (XLS SpreadSheet with BLS data)

Culinary Job Opportunities & Employers in New York

Given the nature of the work, there are not many restaurants that employ hundreds of culinary professionals. Instead, most food service locations will employ a relatively small number of chefs, cooks & food service managers. That said, there are a broad range of employers available, which include:

  • Restaurants & Bars
  • Hotels, B & B’s and Lodges
  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Private companies & Individuals looks for private chefs

The State of New York maintains a database of the largest employeers of chefs, cooks, bakers/pastry chefs, and food service managers at http://labor.ny.gov/stats/bdindex.asp?pass=10 which allows you to search by county.  In may places it’s Hotels that seem to be the largest employers.

Top Employers of Culinary Professionals in New York City

  • Plaza Hotel
  • Berf Hr LlC
  • Hilton Hotel
  • Marriott Hotel
  • Waldorf AsToria Hotel

Top Employers of Culinary Professionals in Buffalo

  • Adam’s Mark Hotels
  • Chartweolf
  • Marriott Hotels
  • Alrum Bar & Bistro
  • Hyatt Regency

Top Employers of Culinary Professionals in Albany

  • Compass Group USA
  • Holiday Inn
  • Wolfs 111 Restaurant
  • Frelhofer’s Baking Co
  • Desmond Hotel

Culinary Training, Schools & Colleges in New York

New York State was one of the first parts of the country to embrace the organic, and farm to fork movement.  New York’s Hudson Valley is known for the bountiful produce & agriculture that provides much of the region with world class ingredients. The Hudson Valley and Hyde Park, is also home to one of the premier culinary schools in the world, the Culinary Institute of America (the CIA).

Dedicated Culinary Arts Schools

  • Culinary Institute of America
  • French Culinary Institute
  • Institute of Culinary Education
  • Culinary Academy of Long Island

Building on the legacy of the region, and the CIA, New York offers those interested in a culinary careers numerous options for training, education and degrees, including:

  • Cornell University in Ithaca NY
  • St Johns University in Queens NY
  • American Academy of McAllister Institute of Funeral Service In New York, NY
  • SUNY College of Technology at Alfred in Alfred New York
  • SUNY Colelge of Technology at Delhi in Delhi NY
  • Suffolk County Community College in Selden NY
  • Nassau Community College in Garden City NY
  • SUNY Westchester Community College in Valhalia NY
  • Hudson Valley Commuity College in Troy NY
  • Paul Smiths College of Arts & Sciences in Paul Smiths NY
  • Morrisville State College in Morrisville NY
  • Niagara County Community College in Sanborn NY
  • SUNY College of Agriculture & Technology at Cobleskill in Cobleskill NY
  • CUNY LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City, NY
  • Erie Community College in Buffalo, NY
  • Schenectady Community College in Schenectady NY
  • Adirondack Community College in Queensbury NY
  • Monroe College in Brox, NY
  • CUNY Kindsborough Community College in Brooklyn NY
  • Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica NY
  • Finger Lakes Community College in Canandaigua NY
  • Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake
  • Career Academy of New York
Location: 
New York