Becoming a chef
If you’ve got a passion for food, whether it’s eating it, preparing it, reinventing it or sharing it, then chances are you’ve thought about becoming a chef or a cook or a baker on more than one occasion! But do you know what it actually takes to become someone that is paid for their love of food?
On this page, I’m going to talk a little bit about the training and experience you’ll need to become a chef or other professional that gets paid to create tasty food. It’s not an easy path, as many think it might be. Good chefs can get paid a lot of money, but it’s not just about learning what recipes are good and bad, it comes from learning about what flavours taste good together and having a natural flair for creativity and tastes.
Anybody can look at a recipe book and create exactly what is on the page and have it taste amazing. There’s no skill or ability in that, apart from the ability to read and follow instructions. Of course, there are plenty of things you can learn in culinary school, but all good chefs have something they were born with, something that sets them apart from the average Joe who can cook from a recipe book.
Natural chefs always seem to have a deeper understanding of flavours that are present in food. It comes naturally to them to know what it is that tastes good and which staple flavours match well. When they taste a dish, they know if it needs a little bit of something else and exactly what that core flavour should be that needs adding. Just like how an artist has a deeper level of understanding of shapes and colours, people can learn about art history and how to hold a paintbrush, but it doesn’t mean that they’ll ever be able to create a work of art.
To be a professional chef, it’s not just about knowing how to make tasty food. It’s about your working environment. Kitchens are notorious for being high-pressure environments that not everyone can handle. If you’re soft, say goodbye to becoming a professional chef. Kitchens have a vibe of banter, quick decision making and stress and you’ll need a natural ability to handle that every single day.
Culinary school can be infinitely useful when you are wanting to become a professional chef and paid food lover, for obvious reasons. Culinary school can teach you all the technical expertise that is required for becoming a professional in any area of the field.
Just like normal colleges, culinary schools often have majors in various areas of the field so you can tailor your career path to what you want to become professional in. For example, many food schools can tailor your programme to baking, pastry, wine and beverages, restaurant cooking, management, business management, food preparation and anything else in between.
Diplomas and degrees take a long time to complete and require complete dedication both inside and outside the classroom. You’ll have to put in tonnes of work and lots of man hours in work experience and internships to get the very best grade possible and to ensure that you get the best possible start when beginning your career.
Sometimes, you may have to travel further than a few miles to get the best culinary school for you, so it’s worth doing some research and investigating all the possible options that may be the best for you.
There are a few all important skills that you have to have to become a professional chef or baker or anything. I’ve listed these in an easy to digest list here:
- Team player
- Able to multi-task
- Business minded
- Food knowledge
- Attention to detail
- well-tuned palate
Of course, there are plenty more skills that are needed, but these are probably the most important to consider. Do you already have these skills? Maybe it is something you need to work on? Whatever your skill set, you’re going to have to work hard at all of these to become truly successful.