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; that 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 to feel the same way too.
The reality is this, to become a professional chef like Anne–Sophie Pic, Thomas Aloysius Keller, Alain Ducasse, etc. it will take you time, and 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.
Is Becoming a Chef a Good Career Choice?
There are numerous reasons why becoming a chef is an excellent career choice. To begin with, you will be able to work every day in a career that feeds your passion. This is a very creative industry where ‘thinking outside the box’ and producing new cuisine will be aggressively rewarded.
However, there are more practical advantages to working as a chef, such as the possibility to travel extensively for work, the opportunity to become a business owner, and the ability to work flexible hours that can match your lifestyle and personal responsibilities.
What Type of Salary Can I Expect to Earn?
As with any career, salaries are dependent on experience, qualifications, location and the reputation of the establishment. However, as a ballpark figure, a Commis Chef at a good restaurant can expect to start on 20 – 22K, while Executive Chefs can earn up to 80K depending on the business.
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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 a lot of chefs who become professionals just by learning under a mentor or through an 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 culinary school. Thus, to become an executive chef you must be willing to work your way through the 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?)
What are the Typical Duties of a Chef?
As we have suggested, working as a chef is a varied and dynamic role with various responsibilities. Just a few of these involve:
- Preparing menus
- Taking stock
- Working with top quality ingredients
- Plate presentation
- Experimenting and developing new ideas and introducing new dishes
- Prepping seasonal menus and dishes
- Recruiting, training and developing chefs
- Developing new restaurant concepts
- Working close with the service team and the sommeliers on the food and wine pairing and other matters
- Participating different conferences and food-related events
Depending on your role, you may also be expected to manage a team of junior chefs, waiters and kitchen porters. As Head Chef and official “face” of the restaurant you may also be involved in various marketing activities.
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 is the same, well that’s not TRUE.
Even when they appear to do the same thing which is “cooking”, A chef has to distinguish him/herself from any of the following
- Attending culinary school and earning a certificate
- Going for an apprenticeship with a professional chef
- supervisory kind of experience.
That is to say, a chef always takes a step further when compared to a cook. These are the 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.
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.
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 answer 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 learned 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 in 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, and no one-size-fits-all education that all chefs MUST have.
In this career path, some cooks might earn the title “CHEF” more 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 a lot 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 the institute of culinary education offer programs like the Management program that focus 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’s levels.
An associate’s degree can be earned in two years; a High school diploma in four years; a 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 has 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 that 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 are 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’s 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 they say make an ocean.
keep at it, be diligent in the little responsibilities you are given in the kitchen, and prove your worth.
What Are the Different Types of Chefs?
As a chef, you will frequently have to climb your way up the ranks of a team. There are many different chef professions available in today’s kitchens, so consider which one you want to fill.
#1. Commis Chef
The first position you are likely to fill is that of Commis Chef. This is a junior chef in training who is still learning from the other members of their team. Chef de Partie reports to the Commis Chef.
#2. Chef de Partie
A Chef de Partie is in charge of a certain area of the kitchen, for as working with seafood, grills, or vegetables. In larger kitchens, this may include a group of junior and senior cooks.
#3. Sous Chef
A Sous Chef is the’second in command,’ actively involved in the operation of the kitchen and frequently stepping in for the Head Chef.
#4. Head Chef
The Head Chef manages the entire kitchen workforce, works with suppliers and supervisors, and frequently creates menus.
#5. Executive Chef
Then there’s the Executive Chef. The Executive Chef is the most senior job in the kitchen, and the title holder typically manages many departments and outlets. Executive Chefs are in charge of all employee recruiting and development, as well as all kitchen costs and budgets. They are also in charge of continual menu conception, development, and culinary innovation.
Cheap Culinary Schools You Can Afford 2022
This list of cheap culinary schools is 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 Savannah–Savannah, 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 the 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, are exposed to real-world experiences. The cost of gaining a certificate in Associate Degree in Culinary Arts is $11,876.
#4. Pierpont Community and Technical College– Fairmont, West Virginia
This school is home to one of the best culinary schools in USA. It provides an 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 College–San 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 an 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
- 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.
What Does a Typical Working Week Look Like?
One characteristic that will either appeal or deter someone considering a career as a chef is that chefs are often “on” when everyone else is “off.” Chefs usually work long hours, with 50-70 hour weeks being the norm. Most chefs now work a 5-day week, but some kitchens may require longer working hours, therefore chefs might also work 4-days and 3-days off.
A typical day for a chef begins with a fast briefing with the Head/Sous Chef and the surrounding crew. Tasks will be assigned to each chef and team member at this meeting. This frequently includes a quick assessment of the previous day to identify areas for improvement. Your responsibilities could also include ordering ingredients, creating meals, cleaning up, and conversing with coworkers and customers.
As you might think, the busiest times for a chef are during lunch, supper, and on weekends, so you’ll have to plan your social life around your profession. Working as a chef, on the other hand, is a very sociable occupation in and of itself, and the flexible working hours make this lifestyle appealing to many.
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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