Reality Tv Series Expands Popularity of Culinary Degree Programs

By: Search For Classes

Since the days of the Iron Chef, many would be kitchen concocters have been fascinated by the art of cooking. Television and cooking have had a long and fruitful relationship, from the relaxed preparation of Julia Childs to the more manic and catchphrase worthy efforts of Emeril Lagasse and everyone in between. Unfortunately for many who viewed these shows as an inspiration for entering the profession, television hasn't offered a program that showed the true realities of life in a real restaurant environment...until lately.

The first reality television series to adequately portray the realities of the restaurant business was NBC's The Restaurant, which featured Manhattan celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito and the opening (and eventual closing) of his restaurant Rocco's 22nd Street. The show offered an inside glimpse into the process of restaurant management and showed several hectic scenes of life in the kitchen. While it didn't give a completely accurate picture of what chefs and food preparers go through on a regular basis, it did offer insight that no other program before it made available.

In the 2005 to 2006 television season, the Fox network began a new series devoted strictly to life in the kitchen. Chef Gordon Ramsay, a former soccer player turned world renowned chef hosted the show, which featured 12 contestants all vying for a coveted position as a head chef in a 5 star restaurant. While the show was certainly "made for television" in the sense that it was far more intense than a real culinary environment, it offered the best glimpse thus far into the daily occurrences that can, and often do, happen in the kitchens of fine dining establishments. The show merited enough audience share to be renewed for a second season, which begins in the summer of 2007.

The public prominence of shows such as these has created interest among fans, not only for the participants of the programs, but for the field of culinary arts. Internet searches for culinary programs, culinary degrees, culinary schools and several other related terms have increased several percentage points since 2003, according to Google Trends, which tracks search results worldwide. Enrollment in culinary training programs has risen substantially as well. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the culinary field is expected to reach 12 million employees by 2006, many of which will work in the fine dining industry, although not all in food preparation.

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