How to Become a Chef
A chef is a professional who prepares and cooks food in a restaurant, at a private home, or at an event. The duties of professional chefs often change as they progress up the career ladder, and more experienced head chefs may also be required to create recipes.
Chefs work in the kitchen of a restaurant or house to cook and prepare meals for customers. They may also create their own recipes and be involved in restaurant management.
The duties of being a chef can vary greatly depending on what level they are. For example:
- A junior chef would typically cook and prepare meals strictly following the restaurant’s recipes. They may also need to do cleaning duties. They generally work under the station chef and are posted on a particular station.
- A station chef is the head of a specific area of the kitchen. They might, for example, specialise in pastries, or be in charge of roast goods. This is common in larger restaurants that specialise in more than one area.
- A sous chef is the second in command. They are often the manager of the kitchen during their shifts.
- The chef de cuisine or chief chef is the most significant person in the kitchen. In chains, they will often manage multiple restaurants simultaneously. They are often more in charge of managerial duties and menu creation than actual cooking.
Typically, a chef will start as a junior and work their way up to become a sous chef or a chef de cuisine. Salaries increase dramatically as a chef becomes more experienced.
There are three main routes to becoming a chef. One is simply through vocational experience. Through this means, a candidate would begin their career as a kitchen hand. This job involves working in a kitchen alongside chefs but doing duties like washing up and preparing ingredients. After this, they could progress to chef work – generally within the same company.
To progress in the career, catering, culinary, or cooking qualifications are desirable. College diplomas are the most popular qualification for chefs to obtain. However, it is also possible to take a university degree in related subjects. The more advanced the qualification, the more luck the candidate will have in their job search. With a solid qualification, they may also progress quickly up the career ladder.
The third route to becoming a chef is by an apprenticeship. These are offered by certain restaurants or catering companies. Unqualified people are welcome to apply and if hired, they will have the opportunity to train on the job.
Chef work involves unsocial hours and lots of evening and weekend shifts. It is known to be a tiring career, and while it isn’t directly customer-focused, a chef must be prepared for criticism. Chefs work as part of a team, so they should have strong social skills. Attention to detail is crucial too, as chefs must ensure that all food is hygienically prepared and meets company standards.
The majority of chefs work in kitchens, but some become private chefs and cook in someone’s residence, or work full-time or on a freelance basis with catering companies. Some experienced chefs opt to start their own businesses; potential enterprises include starting their own restaurant, establishing cooking schools for tourists and the general public, creating recipe books, or teaching other professionals their craft. It is a dynamic career that can open up a lot of possibilities.
What degree is most commonly held by a Chef?
- Certificate 3 Hospitality and Catering
- certificate 4 Commercial Cooking and Food Preparation
- Bachelor of Culinary Arts
Career Transportability across Countries
What is the Salary of a Chef?
|Experience||Average salary | year|
|Chef||3-5 yrs||$38,987||£33,319 37,600||$35,319|
What skills are needed to become a Chef?
- Menu Development
- Culinary Skills
- Food & Beverage
- Fine Dining
- Hospitality Industry
- Hospitality Management
- Food Safety
- Restaurant Management
- Customer Service
- Menu Costing
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