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How to become a Chef

Apr 2, 2018 16:47 IST
    How to become a Chef
    How to become a Chef

    Anyone who enjoys cooking has probably thought about what it might be like to work as a high-end chef. The glamour, the accolades, the pride…. All these are the attractive things that are seen when we imagine a chef. The glory to this profession in India has been recent and there was a time when this profession was not looked upon as a career option. And let’s be honest – today when we talk about a chef, more than a few of us have pretended our kitchen was a studio and we were the latest tools and equipment. But in reality, the road to becoming a chef takes time to travel. It requires countless hours of hard work, especially in the early years. “Paying your dues” is definitely what aspiring chefs must do to reach the upper ranks of the profession. Unlike yester years, today you need to take formal educational or training to become a chef. Although you still gain most of the knowledge and skills during those long hours in the kitchen. Today, those who want to reach the pinnacle of the profession could be well served by choosing a culinary degree in addition to an apprenticeship. This article will guide you to choose especially for those who want to do more than simply cook – it is meant for those who want to tailor their lives to a culinary dream.

    WHAT DOES A CHEF DO?

    CHEF & CULINARY CAREER- The Tip of the Iceberg

    The tasks of a chef are varied, depending on the type of food served and where they work. However, chefs can generally be thought of as the head boss within a kitchen. In addition to cooking, chefs plan the menu, choose and inspect ingredients, supervise the kitchen staff and handle any other food related issues relating to the kitchen.

    CHEF & CULINARY CAREERS- In-Depth

    Contrary to what some food shows portray, there are actually many chefs in the kitchen. There is the head chef, also known as the master chef, executive chef or chef de cuisine. There are sous chefs, who generally implement the head chef’s directives and are second-in-command of the kitchen; a chef de partie, which is a chef supervising a particular area or station within the kitchen; and a commis, who is usually one of the least experienced chefs, often fresh out of culinary school, who works directly under the chef de partie at a particular kitchen station. Other chefs may specialize in a certain type of food; for instance, the pastry chef focuses on desserts, cakes and pastries. Some chefs handle not only some cooking but administrative tasks as well, including hiring and firing staff, managing cash flows, acquiring investors, ordering ingredients and more.

    STEPS TO BECOMING A CHEF

    There are various ways to become a chef. You can start without taking a formal education and take a job in a Restaurant Kitchen. Although this has been considered one of the best ways to know how the kitchen and restaurant works. This may involve working up the ladder over a long period of time and include the most mundane things, including washing dishes and taking out the trash. However, the exposure to professionals in the kitchen is what matters, and over time a fresh new chef will work their way up the ladder to the more appealing tasks. This time toiling in the trenches of kitchen duty will help answer the big question: Is this what you really want to do?

    The other and best way in today’s scenario is to get a professional education and a degree to become a chef. Most employer today require some form of qualification to hire Kitchen personnel.

    Culinary schools take one to three years, depending on the program. The most common result is the diploma, or bachelor’s degree.With formal qualification in hand, the specialized knowledge and skills learned during the program can serve aspiring chefs in good stead when honing their kitchen work. Often those who have earned their culinary degree can quickly earn positions with greater responsibilities – always a plus for any chef.

    The formal culinary program is just the beginning. Working as a chef requires a great deal of experience, which is why fresh graduates probably won’t immediately begin working as a chef. Additional training under the tutelage of a professional chef, whether it’s through an internship during the program or training program as a job trainee employed in Kitchen, will heighten the skills and knowledge every chef needs. As an added bonus, work experience is a great networking opportunity.

    Further once you are a chef and have some year of experience behind you, you may need to enhance your skills by obtaining specialized skills certifications. This helps you to move up the ladder, especially when applying for highly competitive chef positions. Certifications may help market a chef’s cooking ability, as well as potentially lead to more opportunities for advancement.

    CULINARY SCHOOLS & PROGRAMS

    A degree from a culinary school may offer exposure to a wide range of skills and ideas that can’t be found anywhere else. A culinary degree may also be an advantage when looking for a job, as it provides background learning. Students will not only learn how to do something, but understand why it is done a certain way.

    CULINARY SCHOOL

    Culinary schools are dedicated to one thing – the culinary arts. No matter the diploma, certificate or degree that results from attending a culinary school, students should feel secure the curriculum will be focused strongly on what it takes to become a chef. Completion of any course will require a full time commitment of anywhere from one to three years. Despite their generally higher cost, culinary schools can be one of the best ways to begin a chef career, thanks to the quality of faculty, training and updated facilities.

    The curriculum that leads to a bachelor’s degree is extensive and covers courses like entrepreneurial, management, business and marketing concepts, all of which will prepare graduates to run their own restaurant or other food related business. Students will also learn about a wide variety of cuisines and cooking methods.

    For those who want to maximize their skills and knowledge, gain exposure to a variety of cuisines from around the world and learn about the business aspects of running a restaurant or food business, a bachelor’s degree could be the way to go. About half of a bachelor’s degree program will cover culinary topics, while the remaining half will delve into the management-related training and concepts. It typically takes three years of full-time study to complete.

    COMPONENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL CULINARY SCHOOL EXPERIENCE & CHEF CAREER

    The stamina, skills and knowledge for cooking at such a high level is not innate or easily learned. Being a chef also requires the use of specialized tools and equipment, and credentials can further enable chefs to move ahead in their careers.

    Creativity

    Becoming a chef involves more than just following a recipe or cooking for large numbers of people. Being able to design a new food or a unique method of presentation is important.

    Strong work ethic

    It takes a lot of practice and long hours to become a chef. Double shifts and sacrificing personal and family time is practically a rite of passage. And don’t forget that some of the busiest times for food preparation are during the holidays.

    Physical endurance

    Working in a kitchen is very physically demanding. Working nonstop for hours on end is regularly expected.

    Manual dexterity

    Mixing, slicing, assembling, squeezing and any other capability of the human hands will be needed as a chef.

     TOOLS

    High quality chef’s knivesCommercial blenderCommercial mixerCommercial food processor Commercial oven Blast chiller Mandolin slicer Grater Colander Spatulas Baking sheets Frying pans Brazing pans Saucepans Stockpots Ladles Pie pan Bread pan Bundtpan spring form pan Deep fryer Mixing bowls Menu planning software Computer spreadsheet software Kitchen scale Pressure cooker Cutting board Candy, meat and baking thermometers

    Credentials

    Certification is not required to become a chef, but it can ensure prospective clients and employers of a requisite level of knowledge. Some of the most widely recognized certifications come from the American Culinary Federation. Other organizations offering certifications include the Professional Chef’s Association and the United States Chef Association

    CHEF SALARIES & JOB GROWTH

    Chef Salaries

    How much can a chef make? That depends on several factors, such as the level of experience, where they work and geographical location. Not all areas of the country pay the same amount. The greater the experience, ability and skill, the larger the pay package. Every chef goes through the grind and usually start at the bottom of the rung with not very attractive pay packages.

    Chef Job Growth

    Where are chefs being hired? Any food service organization which has in house kitchen and food preparation happens require professional chefs to run and manage the operations. Job growth of a chef is directly proportional to the knowledge and skills as well as potential to gain newer skills sets

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