What it Takes to Become a Chef

Many people enjoy kitchen work; the smell of something simmering in a covered pot, the delicate steps of preparing a tongue-tingling dish. The atmosphere of the kitchen can bring the senses to life, and so many seek it in a career as a chef. The road is long however, and not everyone is cut out for life at the stove.

Many famous chefs do not start out in restaurants. Rather, they develop a love for food early in their lives. This is the first step in becoming a chef; start cooking at home. It doesn’t matter if you start with simple soup or stew. The important thing is to gain experience working with kitchen utensils, equipment, and of course, cooking ingredients. Not only does this develop a good background that restaurants look for in people, but it builds a passion for culinary arts. Of course, cooking in a restaurant is different from preparing homemade meals, but it is undoubtedly the best place to start.

Once you are ready, take a transitional job at a restaurant. This doesn’t mean you have to apply for a position in the kitchen. A job waiting tables or managing the cash register is enough to gradually build work experience, as well as give an idea of how things work in a restaurant.

Most if not all restaurants have strict requirements for chefs, so having worked as a waiter is almost never enough to land you in a job cooking for the establishment. To back up your experience, you may need college education in culinary arts. Fortunately, many colleges offer such courses. As an added bonus, colleges often have internship programs that assign students to establishments to build up a reputation as well as a resume. Those who do well in these courses can even be offered jobs upon graduation. Keep in mind however, that most countries with a lucrative food industry have departments whose job is to certify what you are allowed to cook and whether you can even be allowed to cook at all. Before applying for a job, be sure to get certified by associated departments.

Once certified, restaurants will be allowed to let you work in the kitchen. Still, you might not be hired as a chef right away. Restaurants may need physical proof that you can be trusted with hard work and responsibilities, and assign you to small tasks such as cutting meat and chopping onions; tasks that mostly involve preparation of ingredients. Over time however, you can get promoted to do more complex interactions with the dishes such as preparation of soup or garnishes. Eventually, you will be trusted with actually handling the dishes, with tasks getting more and more demanding and complex. By this point, you will be recognized as a cook in the kitchen, and will technically be doing the work you’ve always wanted. However, the road doesn’t end there. The best cooks in restaurants can leap a step higher and be promoted to sous chef, working directly under the head chef. Given enough time, it is even possible to BE the head chef, in charge of the entire kitchen, and the smooth running of all systems in it.

While the road may take years, it is a worthwhile journey for those who enjoy the sights, sounds, and flavors of the kitchen. There is no shortage of those who try, and only a select few really make it to the top. Regardless, there is no question that these men and women are artists in their own right, creating the masterpieces that sate the hunger of billions of people around the world today.