If all you’ve ever dreamed of is becoming a chef, the chances are you already know what it takes and you’re well on your way to making it in the restaurant business. However, if you’re considering a career change and you’ve recently started considering this possibility, here’s a very quick look at the main areas you’ll have to consider.
Of course, a huge part of the job relies on knowing about food and cooking. The best way to pick up this knowledge is by gaining practical experience, firstly by cooking at home and later getting a job in a restaurant of some sort to work your way up as far as you can. You may not get far in the business without further education, but you will need a basis of work experience to get started.
Depending on what area you wish to specialise in, you will need to become an expert in multiple areas. You will most likely start off with baking which covers a huge range of styles and food types. Later on you can move into other more niche areas and experiment with international cuisine until you find a favourite style.
In order to become a fully qualified chef at a high level, it will be essential to complete some advanced study programs and earn certifications in certain areas. This goes way beyond the basics of actually cooking and covers more of the areas you would need to understand in order to run a restaurant successfully. These courses would typically cover all of the following:
- The chemistry behind the cooking process and a scientific understanding of why certain ingredients react in particular ways with each other
- How to procure ingredients effectively in the real world
How to develop your own menu
- Understanding table service and restaurant etiquette
- Other business and financial aspects of running a restaurant
- Hygiene risks during food handling, storage and cooking
- The law relating to health and safety in establishments that serve food
Once you have completed your studies to the required level, this will help you work your way up to your dream job as a chef, whether you are aiming for a position as a cooking specialist like a sous chef or saucier, or incorporating management into your role as a head chef.
You will require a number of specific skills and qualities to succeed, too, including an inventive approach to problem solving under pressure and very strong motivational skills to keep yourself and the rest of your team going at a difficult pace for long hours. However, if you truly love cooking then the prestige of being great at what you do will be worth the work.