What are the Requirements to Become a Chef?
Many people believe that a chef and a cook are the same person doing the same job. But nothing could be further from the truth. While a cook prepares food, much like a chef does, a chef distinguishes themselves with a culinary degree, an apprenticeship, supervisory experience, or in another way which goes above and beyond what a cook does. If someone wants to become a cook often their only requirement is a high school degree.
When an individual wants to become a chef, however, there is a lot more they could need to start supervising a kitchen.
Being a chef or a head cook is a huge responsibility. You are in charge of an entire kitchen and for feeding every person who comes into your eatery. That is why there have been several culinary programs started with the intention of providing the most comprehensive cooking education to students.
Even though a formal education is not a necessity, many aspiring chefs choose to start with culinary art programs that gives them the foundation of training they will need once they start cooking for customers.
During the culinary program, you could be taught how to cook food, and also other skills which are needed for a successful career in cooking. These include business management, leadership and team management, harnessing your creativity in the kitchen, how to improve your manual dexterity, time management, learning to use kitchen tools, improving your sense of taste and smell and increasingly, computer skills.
For career in the kitchen, simply learning recipes in class is not enough. You also need to gain experience working in actual restaurants learning your craft. There is a certain path that needs to be followed to rise through the ranks in the culinary world:
To become a chef, an individual typically needs to have one-to-five years of experience in the field first. Your experience might have begun before you even stepped into culinary school. Regardless, be ready to work in your field during and after you finish your degree.
Entry Level Job
Once you receive your training and certification, you get started in professional cooking circles by getting an entry-level position in a kitchen as an assistant or line cook.
Rising through the Ranks
After you get your start working for an eatery, your performance will decide how quickly you rise in your profession. It may even be several years before you get to prepare a dish. You will be working under an experienced chef, and the best way to gain from the experience will be to learn as much as you can while working under the chef.
Your Own Restaurant
There are two main ways you can rise to the position of the head chef at a restaurant. After years working for a restaurant preparing dishes, you may be offered a position as the head chef for a restaurant. There are head-hunters within the food industry who keep an eye on upcoming talent and mention their names to high-end restaurants looking for new chefs.
Another method is for you to start your own restaurant. This is much more risky than working for someone else, and there is no guarantee that your venture will succeed. But if you have gained enough experience, have the necessary business skills and have built up a solid reputation among your customers, you can make your own venture successful.
Qualities of a Chef
There are certain qualities you will need to cultivate to become a successful chef:
You need to keep an eye on several tasks at the same time, from cooking multiple dishes together to remembering which guest ordered which dish.
Being a chef can be quite stressful, and you need to know how to handle that stress without allowing it to burn you out. Having a naturally even temperament helps, but there are also lots of ways to manage your stress in the kitchen.
You need to be able to communicate with the entire team in the kitchen, from the cooking assistant to the waiters who deliver your food to guests. You need to be able to provide constructive criticism and give orders to your kitchen teammates so everyone is on the same page and able to deliver the meal to the customers.
You should practice ways to improve your manual dexterity, since this will prove quite useful in the kitchen when handling instruments and doing intricate chopping.
Do you think you would make an excellent chef? If you believe your future lies inside a kitchen, consider ECPI University’s Culinary Institute of Virginia for your Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts. With your year-round, accelerated classes you could spend less time earning your degree and more time cooking delicious food for hungry customers. For more information about CIV and to see if you’d be a good fit, contact an admissions representative today.
It could be the Best Decision You Ever Make!
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