The usual notion of a Chef is a cook with white hat and apron mainly found inside a restaurant or in the hotel’s kitchen. It’s actually right, but this person is a highly trained culinary professional when it comes to menu planning, cooking, food preparation and presentation as well as being in charge of the complete kitchen. These are just a few of the basic responsibilities of being a chef. In reality, it is a broad career path because in the long run once can shift from being a head chef to a restaurant owner, a culinary administrator or educator and the lists goes on and on.
Skills and Qualities to become a Chef
Being a chef is not that easy. One must have the passion for cooking and a love for food. Basically these are the dynamic duo in an individual’s drive to becoming a successful chef. Aside from these traits, an individual must also possess the following:
- Excellent leadership and communication skills
- Team Player
- Multitasking capability
- Creative and Imaginative
- Superior standards when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness
- Great organizational skills
Steps to becoming a Chef
Having an educational degree is not always a prerequisite to becoming a chef. Many a good chef have excelled by ‘learning by doing’. Simply possessing a good standard education such as a good command of the English language and basic Math skills are great building blocks in pursuing a culinary career path. The following steps will guide you accordingly:
- Acquiring a kitchen job in the hotel or restaurant
Having the basic know-how on how the kitchen in a restaurant or hotel works or operates is really important to become a chef. In the beginning, this may involve washing dishes, throwing garbage and basically doing the ‘dirty’ kitchen chores. However, what’s important is getting ample experience by interacting with professional chefs in the kitchen, because you will be able to learn new cooking methods and tricks of the trade. Because the world of cuisine is continuously evolving and being up to date is essential.
- Obtaining a High School Diploma
Before enrolling in a culinary school or even an apprenticeship, it is an essential for you to have high school diploma. A fair comprehension of the English language and basic Math will help you go along the way.
- Getting a Formal Education at a Culinary School
There are different program offers for one to achieve their dream or of being a chef de cuisine. The course duration is between one and four years. The certification can be an associate or bachelor’s degree or a diploma. Though it’s not a necessity, it will definitely give you the edge in your field especially if your aiming for a senior culinary position with great responsibilities.
- Gaining Valuable Experience
After studying or completing a formal education at a culinary school, it is necessary to put theory into practice. Training and working under a qualified professional chef will surely hone your skills and knowledge. This opportunity will also widen your professional network.
Obtaining certification or proof of specialization isn’t really required, although it’s always an advantage and provides fillip to career advancement and better remuneration.
Different Culinary Chef Titles
- Sous Chef is the head chef’s assistant in the kitchen
- Chef de Partie is the chef who supervises a specific area of production
- Executive Chef/Head Chef/Chef de Cuisine is the individual who manages all the kitchen activities related to the kitchen such as menu planning, food quality, cost, presentation, kitchen inventory and managing culinary staff.
- Commis chef is also known as chef in training or basically a trainee in the kitchen. The Commis works under the supervision of a Chef de Partie, to learn each production area in the kitchen.
All kitchens have a traditional Brigade system. The Brigade also consists of Chef’s who specialize in a certain production process or cuisine. A few titles are, Chef de Patisserie, Chef de Garde Manger, Saucier, Chef de Poisson etc.
In our ever changing, hectic world there is an increasing tendency towards formal eating out as well as enjoying a relaxed meal at a Café or Bistro. Recent studies have revealed that there is a huge lack of skilled chefs in the UK. Once you are a qualified chef you can enjoy working across a broad spectrum of hospitality establishments like hotels, restaurants, cafés, wine bars as well as in education.
Remember if you love food and have the passion for cooking, pursue your dream of becoming a Chef!
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