Chefs are the most skilled cooks working in a professional kitchen. They are also some of the most recognised employees in the hospitality industry thanks to the quintessential chef’s uniform that has become more stylish over the years due to companies like Chef Works.
Their tasks include preparing food, managing and training the cooking staff, creating the menu, and directing the food service at restaurants and other eating establishments. Chefs are responsible for all the activity in the kitchen and are usually required to work long hours, including in the evenings, weekends and on holidays. Because of the fast-paced environment and long hours, chefs can find the profession highly stressful at times, while other occasions it can be one of the most rewarding jobs around. While many cooks know the ins and outs of most dishes, a chef typically specialises in one or more types of cuisine and cooking styles.
Many chefs need to stay abreast of the latest culinary trends, learn about new kinds of cuisine and tap into their creativity to produce quality food and evolve their culinary skills.
While being a chef is definitely one of the highest-pressure jobs out there, it is equally exciting with many individuals wanting to get into the business of professional cooking. That being said, here are some tips and advice for those looking to get into the chef industry.
Training to Become a Chef
While many of today’s chefs received their experience on the job, either working in a professional kitchen or helping at home in their youth, there are professional culinary schools that teach budding cooks both theoretical and practical culinary skills. While these chef schools are great to get a comprehensive idea of the industry and to earn your qualification, the best experience you can get is on the job. While working in a kitchen, prospective chefs will learn how to prep different kinds of foods, how to recognise and use different flavours and seasoning, learn about cooking utensils and are trained on sanitary and hygiene.
It is therefore not strictly necessary to attend culinary school, although many would-be chefs like the idea of receiving some type of qualification. These culinary programs can last anywhere from several months to four years and often include an internship at a restaurant, hotel or catering service. This is a great step in the door as the hospitality and food industry can be a highly competitive one.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Professional Chef?
What you need to understand is all chefs start right at the bottom, regardless of which culinary school you attended or how well you cook. It can take several years of training and experience before cooks begin working as sous chefs in a fine dining establishment and then another few years in this position before you can climb the ranks to head up a kitchen as an executive chef.
Chef Job Prospects
As I mentioned before, the food industry is a competitive one. Depending on where you live, employment rates for chefs or head cooks are not as high as we would like, although there is always opportunities available despite a relatively slow growth. Since only a few jobs will be created over the next several years, competition will be strong. Therefore, it will serve all chefs well to gain as much training and experience as possible. Long term, it is possible for a sous chef with plenty of expertise in both cooking and running a kitchen to become a head chef. Remember, as a head chef you are in charge of the entire kitchen including its staff. Many head chefs find the job fulfilling enough to open their own kitchen, although running your own business requires more than just excellent chef skills.
To open your own restaurant, you will need knowledge in management, accounting and marketing as well. That being said, working for an existing restaurant can prove less stressful that running your own business while the rewards are equally great.