Becoming a chef is a dream that many people aspire to, but it’s not always an easy path.
To become a successful chef, you need to have a passion for food, a willingness to learn and work hard, and a creative mind.
However, with the right attitude, dedication, and training, anyone can turn their love of food into a rewarding career as a professional chef.
As per the data from the U.S. BLS May 2020, the average annual wage for chefs and head cooks in the United States was $51,530.
This article talks about the steps you need to take to become a chef, including education and training options, gaining practical experience in a professional kitchen, and developing essential culinary skills.
Whether you are just starting out or looking to make a career change, our guide will help you take the first steps toward a fulfilling and successful career as a chef. So, let’s get started!
So without wasting time, let’s get started.
What Does Chef Do?
A chef is a professional who is responsible for creating and preparing food in a restaurant or other food service establishment.
Chefs are skilled in a variety of culinary techniques, and they must be able to manage their time effectively, work well under pressure, and have keen attention to detail.
In addition to cooking, chefs are also responsible for managing kitchen staff, creating menus, ordering supplies, and ensuring that food is prepared safely and meets quality standards.
They must be able to work closely with other members of the kitchen team, including sous chefs, line cooks, and prep cooks, to ensure that dishes are prepared on time and to the customer’s specifications.
Chefs must have a passion for food and cooking, as well as a willingness to learn and work hard to become a chef.
How To Become A Chef?
Being a chef requires a lot of dedication and hard work. There is no specific path that you can follow. But there are common steps that you can follow to become a chef.
Let’s discover those!
- Get a Degree Or Diploma From An Accredited School:
Getting a degree or diploma is strongly recommended for today’s upcoming chefs. The restaurant industry is very competitive, and the person who hires prefers employees with training and experience.
Along with the degree and training, the culinary school also offers many opportunities to decide what type of chef they see in themselves. It also allows students to build a network with professionals.
Along with the degree, there are some online courses available that are provided by industry experts. Some of the best online courses include:
- Culinary Education Crash Course- Basics in becoming a Chef (Udemy)
- Think Like a Chef: A Beginner’s guide to cooking with confidence (Skillshare),
- Diploma in Food skills and Techniques (Alison)
- Cooking 101: Kitchen basics to advanced (Udemy)
You can simply consider going with these courses to build the extra skills.
- Train And Practice:
Hands-on practice can prepare you for the high demands of professional kitchen skills.
Working as a chef, you need a great deal of experience that can help freshers and recent graduates to gain the experience.
You can consider doing an internship and part-time job that can give you hands-on experience to build a strong resume.
- Find A Job And Get Work Experience
Once you have internship experience and skills, it is a good time to scope out restaurants you would like to work in.
There are many options you can apply in the culinary industry. The Common entry-level positions include Prep Cook, Line cook, and general Kitchen staff.
You can also take benefit of your professional network to be up-to-date with job openings in your desired field.
- Cement Your Voice And Style
After getting a job, you can shape your skills and cement your specific style. This can help you to find a specific niche in your field.
What Are The Different Types Of Chefs?
There are some different types of chef roles. Let’s have a look at them!
- Commis Chef: Commis chef is a junior chef who is still learning with their other team members. Usually, Commis Chef reports to the Chrf de Partie.
This can be a good start for freshers who are looking for a great career as a Chef.
- Bakery Chef: Bakery Chefs are professionals who specialize in baking. Majorly they focus on preparing items like biscuits, cakes, bread and pastries.
- Pastry Chef: The pastry chef works independently and looks after preparing and presenting a variety of baked food and desserts.
- Chef de Partie: Chef de Partie works on a specific area in the kitchen, whether it be working with grills, vegetables or fish. In larger restaurants, this can include a team with junior and senior chefs.
- Sous Chef: A Sous Chef is a ‘second in Command’ who is involved in looking after the kitchen, often filling in for the Head Chef.
- Head Chef: The Head Chef covers the kitchen and also manages the entire kitchen team and managers, and sometimes creates menus.
- Executive Chef: The executive chef handles the head position and oversees the multiple departments and outlets.
They are responsible for ongoing menu ideation, development, and culinary innovation.
Is Becoming A Chef A Good Career Choice?
Becoming a chef can be a good career. Though there are many things that you can consider to make sure you are fit to become a chef or not..
It is important to understand that a career as a chef is extremely competitive. You may find many chefs out there who are applying for the same jobs.
So to become a chef, you need to make sure you have related skills and the ability to work hard.
Along with the hard work, you may find this job very demanding, and it can be physically or emotionally draining.
But on the other hand, if you enjoy cooking and love to serve people as a chef, then it can be a great career to go with.
What Is The Average Chef’s Salary?
As a chef, the salary depends on various factors, like
- Level of education
- Years of experience
- Geographic location (state and city), and
- Level of responsibility.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021, the average pay for experienced chefs was $50,150 yearly or $24.11 per hour.
Entry-level positions offer comparatively lower salaries, but your starting salary is dependent on your level of experience and education.
Average salaries may differ according to the restaurant or state. In states like New York, California, and Oregon, the cost of living is higher, so chefs are generally paid better than in equal positions in other states.
Let’s have a look at some of the highest-paying cities in the United States.
|City||Average Pay (Per Hour)|
|New York, NY||$28.24 per hour|
|Chicago||$23.60 per hour|
|Seattle, WA||$23.37 per hour|
|Los Anngeles, CA||$23.16 per hour|
|Atlanta, GA||$21. 37 per hour|
|Denver||$20.17 per hour|
|Brooklyn, NY||$19.87 per hour|
|Pittsburgh, PA||$18.30 per hour|
|Las Vegas, NV||$17.57 per hour|
Let’s have a look at the top 10 states with the highest job growth as a chef.
(Source: US. BLS)
What Are The Basic Skills You Need To Become A Chef?
Now, skills are the crucial part if you are thinking of making a career as a chef. Following are some of the skills that are necessary to become a chef.
- Cooking methods, knife skills, seasoning, pastry techniques, plating, and flavor profiles.
- Professional skills like externship and other hands-on training in a professional kitchen.
- Business skills like understanding profit and loss, writing business plans and managing restaurant operations.
- You must be able to adapt to the different cultural environments and food habits of others.
- You should be creative enough to try new dishes every day.
- You must possess the ability to work in a team.
- You should update your knowledge regularly.
- You must have love and passion for cooking in you.
- You should be calm and polite.
- You should remain aware of the new cooking technologies and techniques coming into the market.
Final Thoughts: How To Become A Chef (2023)
So, if you ask me, a career as a chef is a great option to go with if you love and enjoy cooking and serving people with great taste.
But as I said previously, being a chef can drain you emotionally as well as physically. So make sure you can handle the stress and manage yourself well before going for it.
I hope this guide helped you properly on how to become a chef.
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comment section below.