How to Become a Chef
When you become a chef you will be entering a career that is challenging, and very satisfying. Chefs prepare food and drinks for customers in a cafe, restaurant, or bar and they work in all different kinds of environments. If you have a passion food, enjoy cooking, and love seeing someone satisfied with a meal you have prepared, then this is a perfect career for you.
Education Requirements to Become a Chef
If you decide to become a chef, your first step will be attending culinary school, or vocational school. There are two year and four year programs offered, which will teach you everything you need to know to be a fantastic chef.
While you're at school, or studying at college, it's advisable to get a part-time job in the hospitality field. You may be able to get a role as a kitchen hand or cleaner, if not look for a role as a waiter or waitress. It's a good way to learn about the industry and start making contacts within hospitality.
Once you have your education complete, you'll need to get a job. Even with a qualification, you will need to start at the bottom, this means an entry level role. Most begin their career as a kitchen hand or prep cook. With hard work and patience you'll be preparing gourmet meals in no time.
Chef Job Description
A chef's primary role is to prepare food, although there are many other tasks they are responsible for. They need to make sure that food is served on time, is fresh, hot, and of course, tastes great. They may need to supervise other staff in the kitchen, or on the floor. A chef will also help prepare new menus, or help decide on the daily specials. Most chefs will also source their own produce, as finding the best quality ingredients is essential to creating the best dishes. Here are some of the tasks you might find yourself responsible for, working as a chef:
- Preparing food for customers
- Developing menus and specials
- Sourcing produce
- Communicating with customers and coworkers
- Keeping a kitchen clean
- Running an inventory of supplies
- Ensuring the timely preparation of dishes
- Ensuring hygiene standards are met
When you become a chef, you may be required to work long hours, as well as split shifts. There is also the possibility of having to work nights, weekends, and holidays, often the busiest times for restaurants.
Keep in mind, you might not be able to get your dream job right away. While you might have ambitions to run the best restaurant in town, keep in mind that it's going to take some time and hard work before you get there.
Chef Salary and Career Path
Most chefs begin their career as a kitchen hand, helping with cleaning and preparing basic dishes. With experience you will move on to more involved roles, such as sous chef, and eventually head chef. You can also specialize in a certain area, for instance you may wish to become a pastry chef, or work only with a particular cuisine.
Some chefs move on to open up their own restaurants and cafes, others write cookbooks. Some move onto managerial positions within the hospitality industry. Once you are qualified as a chef, you will have the opportunity to work anywhere in the world. This is a great skill to have if you would like to travel.
Starting out as a prep chef, or kitchen hand, you can expect to earn around $30,000 a year. With a few years experience, your salary will increase to around $40,000 to $50,000 a year. A head chef, also known as an executive chef will earn between $65,000 and $95,000 a year. Those who are self-employed and own their own restaurants have the ability to earn much more.
Employment prospects for qualified chefs is strong. While it can be difficult to get a start, once you are in with your first job, you will never find it too difficult to stay employed.
Working as a chef can call for long hours at awkward times, as well as a study and hard work to get to the top. However, is food is your passion, you will find the reward will far outweigh the hard work. Chefs enjoy a high amount of job satisfaction, a good income, and secure employment.
*Salary Information provided by the Bureau Of Labor Statistics