Are you the type of person who enjoys praises from family, friends, and co-workers for the delicious food that you prepare for them? Do you find yourself investing in good quality kitchen equipment and spending a lot of time to perfect your skills rather than your actual job? Do you often ponder how to become a chef? Let us help you explore this potential career!
Know though that being a chef is not only limited to learning how to cook. It requires patience and hard work. You need to devote a lot of time to gain experience to fully understand the responsibilities of a chef. In this article, we will give you some advice and will tell you the paths you may consider taking to become a chef.
Chefs’ Roles and Tasks
The word “chef” comes from the French term chef de cuisine, which means the director or head of a kitchen. Chefs are professional cooks that have undergone intensive training through formal schools or internship with a mentor. They are proficient in all aspects of food preparation, often focusing on a particular cuisine. They supervise workers in dining establishments like restaurants, hotels, catering businesses, and sometimes, in the case of personal chefs, in personal kitchens.
Dreaming to be a chef is normally aiming to be the master chef. You might be wondering, “how to become a chef?” A master chef supervises another lower-ranking chef, such as a sous chef who executes his/her plan and is also considered the second highest position in the kitchen. A chef de partie is responsible for supervising a particular task or station in the kitchen. A commis, which is usually the entry level position in becoming a chef, directly takes orders from the chef de partie. There are a lot of opportunities in this field, depending on your expertise and experience.
Being a master chef requires high leadership and organizational skills, which you will need to effectively encourage your team to be efficient and creative while maintaining the team’s harmony. Aside from supervisory roles, chefs also do administrative work in the restaurant like setting rules and regulations in the kitchen, finding the best supplier, inventory, HR tasks, and business expansion.
Tips in Starting Your Chef Journey
If you are planning to be an apprentice and wondering, “Where should I start how to become a chef? For beginners, start with what interests you the most and makes you happy. It is better to focus on a particular cuisine (Chinese, Japanese, etc.) or a certain type of food (desserts, cakes, and pastries). Nowadays, resources to enhance your skills are just a click away. You have eBooks, video tutorials, vlogs, blogs, and online culinary programs. It is wise to learn how to become a chef at home or school before entering an actual job.
Since no single institution regulates who is qualified to be a chef, the paths are not strict, unlike other professions. You can choose your journey on how to become a chef.
3 Possible Paths on How to Become a Chef
It is impossible to learn how to become a chef with no experience. Explore these 3 possible paths to help you gain the skills and experience you need.
Having a formal Education
Although a diploma or degree is not always necessary, a formal education increases your chance to land a higher entry level position and salary. Landing on such jobs will make how to become a chef more certain and easier for you. There are usually two- and four-year culinary degrees. Culinary courses are offered at universities, community colleges, technical schools, and even online programs. Programs vary from associate to bachelor’s degree, such as but are not limited to:
- Associate in Baking and Pastry Arts
- Bachelor’s in Applied Food Studies
- Bachelor’s in Culinary Science
- Bachelor’s in Food Business Leadership
- Bachelor’s in Food Business Management
- Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management
- Master’s in Food Business
- Master’s in Wine and Beverage Management
- Accelerated Culinary Arts Certificate Program.
These programs will prepare you for almost everything that you need to know about the kitchen and managing work.
Let’s be honest. Any profession requires money. If you do not have the resources, it could be the end of your dream. But what’s good about being a chef is that it doesn’t always require formal education. You can be an apprentice and start from entry level roles and make your way up.
Although some may ask for a high school diploma, formal education is not always a condition for an entry level job in the kitchen. Some successful chefs started as dishwashers and janitorial positions. Their goal is to expose themselves to the kitchen work and understand the dynamics. Then, once they have learned enough, they can apply for a position under the supervision of a chef, which will help them gain a culinary skill equal to a degree. It may take years of patience and hard work, but with grit, this is one way to the top.
So, when you finished your studies and think that you already have the skills, experience, and knowledge of a chef, what is the next step on how to become a chef? Get yourself certified! Like formal education, certification is not required to get a job as a chef. But after you mastered how to become a self-taught chef, a certification will add to your advantage in getting hired.
Certification options are done to match the level of your skills on your career goals. Some organizations offer certification to maintain a high standard in the food and restaurant industries. They set high competitiveness in all aspects of the job, like what American Culinary Federation (ACF) does. ACF is one of the largest organizations that certifies chefs in 14 areas in line with the World Association of Chefs’ Societies or Worldchefs. It is a dynamic global network of more than 100 chefs’ associations representing chefs at all levels and across all specialties worldwide. This certification can be used and recognized in any part of the world.
You can take the written and practical exams that lead to the Certified Culinarian (CC) designation if you have an associate degree. An associate degree and three years’ work experience qualifies you for the Certified Sous Chef (CSC) designation. You could earn the Certified Chef De Cuisine (CCC), Certified Executive Chef (CEC), and Certified Master Chef (CMC) designations. The ACF also certifies personal chefs and pastry chefs.
So, how to become a chef? There are different ways to learn how to become one. Choose which among the three ways presented above is most applicable in your situation. Work hard, be patient, and always improve your skills. With the right attitude and determination, you can be the next chef whose food is the talk of the town. Discover more about becoming a chef here!