The Smart Way to Turn Your Baking or Cooking Hobby Into a Career

Baking and cooking are hobbies that many people today turn into an income-generating career. In Dubai, a percentage of all the new restaurants, bakeshops, cafes, and tea places that pop up every year are the ventures of passionate hobbyists. With encouragement from family and friends, as well as enough savings for a startup, they join the competitive foodservice arena.

Unfortunately, some hobbyists may discover that they are ill-equipped for the cutthroat nature of the foodservice industry. With properly educated bakers and cooks who have the same dream of (and talent at) whipping up beloved food items, and who hire experienced managers to assist them with the business side of their operations, it would indeed be challenging to go head to head.

So, the advice of industry experts for hobbyists is simple: Go to school. Doing this will allow what was once a hobby to fully flourish and become a true passion. At a culinary school, students will not only develop the best techniques to create food beautifully and efficiently (which is a must for business productivity), but they will also learn all the valuable information they need to set themselves apart in a fiercely competitive industry.

Besides such benefits, here are five more to prove that getting a proper culinary education is a must in turning your baking or cooking hobby into a true career.

1. You get inspired by the experts.

One of the most wonderful things about going to culinary school to become a certified chef is that you learn important lessons directly from the experts themselves. You attend classes by teachers who have trekked the difficult path towards building a career, and succeeded. They will share not only their baking and cooking know-how, but also their own discoveries, insights and experiences.

Every certified chef has a unique story to success. The late Anthony Bourdain spoke so much about this when he and his other chef friends had the pleasure to be served by the incredible Thomas Keller. While all of them went to school, they had very different experiences with education, and every one of them had something amazing and useful to share.

So, if you love baking or cooking, there’s no doubt that one of the best ways to grow that love or passion is by learning unique lessons from different masters.

2. You will be trained to become the best.

World-class skills require the meticulous eyes of highly trained chefs. Kanjiro Mochizuki, a world-class pastry chef who specializes in candy confections, says it took him years to create beautiful sugar floss.

This would not have been possible if he had gone through the process on his own. He turned to fellow chefs and former teachers to provide him with an unbiased, professional evaluation of his work.

Clearly, you can only become the best if you are under the tutelage of the best. The comprehensive lessons, complex techniques and rigorous training they provide help students produce wonderful culinary creations.

3. You will expand your knowledge to fully achieve your creative potential.

Realizing your full creative potential demands continuous learning. For continuous learning, it always helps to be with people who are dedicated to excellence and will encourage you to innovate.

In culinary school, innovation is one of the most important activities. After learning all the fundamentals, students are then required to create something new. These opportunities can enable you to think outside of the box and play with what you have learned thus far to produce something that nobody has seen before, or improve upon something.

Innovation is the best demonstration of skills, and it can spell a huge difference when you finally make cooking your livelihood. It will make it easier for you to adjust flavors to suit different palates and produce new ones that are likely to be a hit for particular audiences.

4. You will learn to work better with others in the kitchen.

One of the downsides of cooking and baking as a hobby is that they are usually activities that you perform on your own. In this case, working with others may feel counterproductive at times.

However, in cooking school, you will learn how to undergo a process in the most organized way, and that is with a group. This is excellent preparation for when you run a dining establishment in the future where everything has to be done well, and fast. Cooking schools always emphasize the importance of teamwork because it really is the heart of completely productive operations.

Another side of teamwork that cooking schools teach is the importance of good leadership in the kitchen. Having an authority figure that provides teammates with guidance and support only ensures positive outcomes, after all.

5. You will learn the business aspect of cooking.

When you take baking or cooking classes in the UAE, you will find that the course can cover a few fundamental business topics related to the foodservice industry, such as menu pricing, where to find suppliers, executive leadership, management, and others.

Culinary schools are aware that a significant percentage of their students are aiming to put up their restaurants, bakeries, cafes or other dining establishments in the future. As such, it’s essential to teach them ways to succeed as business owners as well by including business subjects in the curriculum.

Through these business subjects, cooks and bakers can avoid launching a business that fizzles out in just a couple of years (studies reveal that about 50 percent of restaurants or food service establishments close in 24 months). With adequate business know-how, they gain a better chance of building a thriving and lasting career in a ferociously competitive industry and through slow economic times.

All in all, there’s no overstating the fact that knowledge is power when it comes to turning a hobby into a lucrative career, especially during difficult economic times when people cannot and will not entertain the idea of failure. If your goal is to succeed, then working hard to obtain the necessary education and training that will take you closer to that goal is certainly the way to go.

Sign up for classes at a culinary school and become a certified chef or baker before taking that big leap. The knowledge and skills you gain will help you harness your natural talent or interest better and arm you with the business acumen you need to thrive in your career.


Shanaaz Raja is the Course Director at International Centre for Culinary Arts – ICCA Dubai.