Become A Chef (2021)| A step by step guide on how to become an executive chef


How to become a chef: Have you been thinking about becoming of chef? Then you should know that, for you to become a professional chef, you will need patients, some level of training, and dedication.

If you have ever enjoyed cooking, chances are; at some point in your life, you have thought of becoming a chef. Though I’m not a professional chef, I sometimes feel my kitchen was a studio (i really do enjoy cooking) and I was the latest chef Gordon Ramsey of my house.

LOL! funny right? I know most of us feel the same way too.

The reality is this, to become a professional chef like AnneSophie Pic, Thomas Aloysius Keller, Alain Ducasse, etc. it will take you time, countless hours of working hard in the kitchen especially during your early days.

To rise up to become that respected chef of the year, you must pay your dues. thus, in this article, I will share with you the step-by-step guide every aspiring chef needs to keep in mind if they want to make it to the top.

Mind you some of the secrets shared here are from professionals who have been in the game for quite a number of years. So don’t be in a hurry to skim…take your time and digest this exposé as my French friends will say.

What Is A Chef?

A chef is an employee of a restaurant, resort, restaurant company, or private residence, whose primary job is the preparation and serving of food.

First, a chef must take a basic entry-level course and attend a mandatory series of kitchen and service tests. Because the chef’s role requires so much familiarity with food and the kitchen, a culinary degree is not necessary.

However, a person who is capable of successfully cooking a full meal for a number of guests can certainly fill the bill.

How to Become a Chef – what does it take to become a chef

Now! How do you become a chef? This is one question that I have seen a lot of newbies ask with total confusion. what does it take to become a chef? really!

It is no doubt that some form of formal education is needed if you must become a chef. Nonetheless, it is not a must-have requirement when seeking employment as a chef.

Over the course of writing this article, i have seen alot of chefs who become professionals just by learning under a mentor or through internship.

That being said, it does not matter how long it took you to get a culinary certificate.

it will not give you an edge over those who did not attend a culinary school. Thus, to become an executive chef you must be willing to work your way through ranks.

Nevertheless, in the part of the article i will be looking at the following:

  • Requirements to become a chef
  • How long does it take to become a chef
  • How long does it take to get a culinary certificate
  • Becoming a chef with no experience (is it even possible?)

Requirements to Become a Chef

This still boils down to answering one of the most important questions for any novice who is looking for direction as regards a career as a chef “what does it take to become a chef?“.

Many of us believe that being a chef and a cook are the same, well that’s not TRUE.

Even when they appear to do the same thing which is “cooking”, A chef has to distingish him/ her self with any of the following

  • Attending culinary school and earning a certificate
  • Going for apprenticeship with a professional chef
  • supervisory kind of experience.

That is to say, that a chef always take a step further when compared to a cook. These are Requirements to Become a Chef.

Educational Requirements to Become a Chef

As a chef in any restaurant, you are charged with the responsibility of cooking and supervising whatever is dished out of your kitchen. This is a serious task, one that should not be taken lightly.

In other to produce some of the best hands, there are several culinary programs to enroll in, even though formal education is not really a prerequisite to becoming a chef.

Many chefs to-be always want to take this route (attending a culinary art program). So as to have a solid foundation for the career path they have chosen.

In the program, you learn how to be a culinary chef. As such chefs are taught how to cook and other vital skills that will be needed in their career such as:

  • 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 e.t.c.

Professional Training

After your educational requirements are met, another requirement to Become a Chef you will definitely need will be professional training.

Barely learning about recipes in class is never enough to get you to where you want to go as a professional chef.

You need the hands-on experience of working in a restaurant and getting your cooking and management skills sharpened.

That being said, there are some professional paths every chef needs to follow to a professional. I have taken the liberty of listing these paths out for you.

#1. Internship/Externship

One of the most important requirements for becoming a professional chef is your wealth of experience in handling the kitchen. it will be one way to answers the How to become a chef question.

Thus, you will need to have between one and five years of experience if you want to become a chef.

The good thing about this number is that it starts counting even before you go to culinary school.

#2. Entry Level Job

Like every other career path, if you want to know How to become a chef, you definitely need to start somewhere and work your way up.

Thus, after your training and certification, it’s time to put what you have learnt into practice while gathering more knowledge. Starting out as a kitchen assistant or line cook won’t be a bad idea.

#3. Rising through the Ranks

When you land your first official job as a chef, it might seem like you are not where you are supposed to be yet. Don’t worry, you are not alone. you will need to prove your worth over and over again.

But your performance will determine how fast you can rise through the ranks. At this point, patience and dedication will be your highest assets.

How Long does it Take to Become a Chef?

Becoming a chef really does not have a well defined path other professions. let’s say for instance, you want to be a lawyer, you first get your undergraduate degree and then apply to a law school that will take you three years.

once that is done, you can then take your bar exams, if you pass Valaa….!!!!! you become a lawyer.

This is not the same if you are looking for How to become a chef. There are no set time frames, no final exams, no one-size-fits-all education that all chefs MUST have.

In this career path, some cooks might earn the title “CHEF” quickly than others. Thus, with numerous variables at play, I can comfortably tell you that it’s not possible to determine How Long it Will Take to Become a Chef.

With the degree and diploma taking up to fifteen months or lesser, you will need lots of experience to move your career to the next level.

Experience comes with age and age is time. In this case, it is the years you have spent in the kitchen navigating through the ranks to become the executive chef.

How Long does it Take to Get a Culinary Certificate?

If you are read this article to this point, I’m very sure you are asking the same question as anyone else who is interested in choosing a career as a chef.

  • how long is culinary school?
  • or how long does the culinary school take?
  • how many years is culinary school?
  • how long does it take to get a culinary certificate?

It does not matter how you frame the question we are all asking the same question.

However, depending on the culinary school you have chosen, it can take a few months to like four years to get your culinary program certificate. There are therefore alot of culinary art programs to choose from.

Types of Culinary School Programs

There are basically three types of culinary school programs you may decide to enroll in:

#1. Culinary Schools:

Here, they teach you how to run a restaurant as a chef. You will receive a comprehensive culinary education within a very short time. Applying to these culinary schools is relatively easy.

schools like institute of culinary education offers programs like Management program that focuses on how to “oversee, grow, open or own a culinary business.”

#2. Culinary Diploma or Certificate Programs:

Diploma or certificate programs usually offer lesson-related courses, each with a specific focus. You’ll gain hands-on experience by learning cooking techniques, putting your skills into practice, and often working in a real-world setting – a huge plus for your career.

At the end of the course, you will receive an official diploma or certificate that you can proudly hang on your wall. Hence, an average culinary certificate program can take up to 12 months to complete.

#3. Culinary Degree Programs:

A college degree offers a variety of programs for the aspiring chef. Regardless of whether you take an “art” or “science” approach, you will find a variety of culinary training opportunities at the associate, bachelor, and master level.

An associate’s degree can be earned in two years; High school diploma in four years; Master’s degree in two years (after obtaining a bachelor’s degree).

The time frame depends on how much time you can devote to school. I hope this have answered How Long does it Take to Become a Chef? question.

Thus, the summary of how long does culinary school take: all certificate and diploma culinary programs take about 9-12 months to complete, these courses will focus mostly on skill will help you work as an assistant to the chef or help you become a professional cook.

while an associate degree usually takes two years to complete and a bachelor’s degree takes four years. Moreso, 3-6 months of internship is also completed during the student’s stay in school.

Becoming a Chef with no Experience (is it even possible?)

Become a chef without experience is that even possible? I know the look on your face right now, it says no way that is possible. Well, let me shock you. IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE A CHEF WITHOUT EXPERIENCE. See how:

To be a chef, you must love food, it is a kind of prerequisite that no one actually enacted. it kind of subconscious.

you have to enjoy the act of cooking, it should be a place you derive joy, happiness, and peace. If you truly feel this way when you are in the kitchen that’s a good sign that you can have a career as a chef.

Work your way up

If you desire to become a chef with experience one day, you need to be humble and patient to work your way up the kitchen brigade. You can start off as a kitchen porter or even a dishwasher.

This way will be able to learn the inner workings of the kitchen. With the little lessons you pick up from the executive chef where you work, don’t hesitate to practice at home. Little drops of they say make an ocean.

keep at it, be diligent in the little responsibilities you are given in the kitchen, and prove worth.

Cheap Culinary Schools You Can Afford (2021)

These list of cheap culinary schools are in no particular order.

#1.  The University of Hawaii – Maui College Kahului, Maui, Hawaii:

The no. 1 school on our list of cheap culinary schools is  The University of Hawaii – Maui College Kahului, Maui, Hawaii. With a tuition fee of $6,800 (non-Hawaii inhabitants ). The school is offering a Certificate program for Competency in Culinary Arts or Pastry.

hence, In this culinary school, the student can choose to pursue a 20-credit load certification program for competence in culinary art or pastry or a 31- credit load certification ie a full associate degree.

#2. Culinary Institute of SavannahSavannah, Georgia

The second on our list of cheap culinary schools is the Culinary Institute of Savannah-Savannah. The school offers various culinary degree programs that any intending chef that wishes to study with them chooses from.

  • Associate degree in Culinary Arts
  • Associate degree in Culinary Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Diplomas in Culinary Arts or Culinary Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Technical certifications for food manufacturing employees or homework cooks.

Thus, individuals attending this will only need to pay a little sum of $11,570 in other to be a certified chef by the institution.

#3. Trenholm State Technical College-Montgomery, Alabama

The Trenholm State Technical College is home to one of the cheap culinary schools in USA. Here the student will be trained in skills that will help them master food preparation, kitchen safety, nutrition, dining table support, cost control, etc.

More so, the students attend workshops, as well as, being exposed to real-world experience. The cost of gaining a certificate in Associate Degree in Culinary Arts is $11,876.

#4. Pierpont Community and Technical CollegeFairmont, West Virginia

This school is home one of the best culinary schools in USA. It provides AAS degree in any of the following programs:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Dietary [Direction ]
  • Pastry & Baking Arts
  • Resort & Hotel Management.

Nonetheless, the students are well equipt for a career as a chef through classes on everything from food purchasing to preparation.

#5. St. Philip’s CollegeSan Antonio, Texas

The tuition fee here is a bit high compared to other cheap culinary schools listed in this article $13,980. That is because you stand the chance to gain the right degree program which includes Associate of Applied Arts in any of the following programs:

  • Culinary Arts
  • Baking and Pastry Arts
  • Hospitality Management

Students can also choose to pursue certifications :

  • Baking principles
  • Cake-decorating
  • Restaurant Supervision
  • Artisan Breads & Specialty Desserts
  • Catering Management.

The students are also exposed to hands-on experience working in one of the campus’s most popular pubs.


Preparing food for your family is a daunting task. From learning to navigate the kitchen to becoming a chef, it can be overwhelming.

One of the biggest hurdles that most new cooks struggle with is trying to find a mentor. Finding a mentor can be extremely difficult, especially when it comes to the food world. In fact, almost every profession requires a certain amount of formal training. Working as a chef is no exception.

This can be difficult when you do not have access to a cooking school. This is where apprenticeships come into play. Do all work you need to do, so you have your name written in gold.

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