How to Become a Chef

If you love food, enjoy cooking and have the stamina to work long hours, then a career as a chef could be ideal for you. Chefs are required to prepare food using a variety of cooking methods and tend to work in kitchens as part of a team. Although like with all careers, you will start at the bottom, there is plenty of scope for you to work your way up the career ladder to the top head chef position. Here we will provide information and guidance on how to become a chef.

A professional chef at work

In order to become a chef, you will need to prove to employers that you have a passion for food and possess creative flair.
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Education and qualifications
Depending on where you apply to work as a trainee chef, you may or may not need academic qualifications. Most employers require you to show a good general standard of education, such as GCSEs in Maths and English, so you may need to obtain these qualifications first, if you do not have them already.

You could prepare for working in the food industry by doing a cooking, catering or hospitality related course at college. Often these college courses involve a combination of classroom study and practical experience. They tend to go up in levels. Obviously the higher you progress, the more skills and experience you will have and the better job you will be able to secure.

One of the most common ways to get into this line of work is to do an apprenticeship. This will involve a blend of practical and traditional study, with training taking place on-the-job in a professional kitchen and study taking place at a college or training centre. It usually takes individuals between two and four years to complete chef apprenticeships.

your training as a chef is key

Many chefs start their careers as apprentices. This involves learning on the job in a professional kitchen and carrying out studies in a classroom environment.
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Interest in food and cooking
Obviously to stand a good chance at securing a job as a chef you will need to show a keen interest in food and cooking. You will also need to prove that you are creative and have excellent presentation skills. To help you secure a chefs job, it is recommended that you create a portfolio or even a blog featuring images and information about some of the best dishes you have created. This will not only help to prove your skill, but show that you are truly passionate about food and cooking.

Dedication to the role
Chefs are often required to work unsociable, long hours. It can be incredibly taxing on the body, especially when you consider that you will be on your feet the whole time, working in a hot, humid and busy kitchen. Depending on where you work, you may be required to work early mornings, late nights and weekends. Before applying for a role as a chef, you need to have a good understanding of what you are in for. It may be worth getting some experience in a kitchen first, to check it is going to be the right role for you.

On-the-job training and development
As we previously mentioned, there is plenty of scope for you to work your way up from the bottom of the career ladder (commis chef) to the top (head chef). Once working your employer should introduce on-the-job training and development programmes. It is likely that you will be required to complete NVQs in cookery related subjects, such as a Level 3 NVQ Diploma in Professional Cookery and A Level 3 Diploma in Supervising Food Safety in Catering. There is even scope for you to take your professional qualifications in cookery further, by completing foundation degrees and degrees in hospitality management, should you so wish to.

Other necessary skills and interests
Aside from all of the qualifications, experience and qualities we have mentioned, you will also need to prove that you have the following skills and qualities:

·         Strong communication skills

·         Good leadership skills

·         Team work skills

·         High standards of cleanliness and hygiene

·         Ability to multi-task

·         Good organisational skills

Finding chef jobs
There are many ways you can go about finding chef jobs from online job websites, to newspaper ads and enquiring at local bars, restaurants and cafes. For starters, you can check out our website to see the listings we have available!

Although it takes hard work, skill and dedication to be a great chef, it is an extremely rewarding career to have. Whether you are just starting out in the world of employment, are thinking about your future after education or are looking to change careers, we hope the information featured in this article will prove of use when it comes to securing a job as a chef.

Image credits: ericmcgregor & ollesvensson

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