One of the best things about going to eat at a fancy restaurant is knowing that you will enjoy the food that is being prepared in the kitchen by a top-notch chef. Indeed, there is something that is both intriguing and delightful about partaking in a dish that was prepared by someone who is professionally trained to cook.
If you happen to be an individual who has a natural flair and talent for making different kinds of foods and you’ve always wondered about the kind of training that is required to actually become a chef, we have five tips below that could soon have you in the ranks with likes of Nigella Lawson, Wolfgang Punk and the late great Julia Childs below:
Make sure that cooking is something you want to do for a living. It’s one thing to like making pancakes on the weekend. It’s another matter entirely to want to make cooking your career. So, before you start seeking out culinary programs, make sure that being a chef is something that you want to do as an actual profession. It requires a love for food, but also a lot of patience, attention to detail and the ability to work under some high-pressure situations.
Get into a culinary school. Although there are a lot of people apply to culinary programs with a high school diploma, because many schools are so competitive, it can’t hurt to have an associate’s degree whether it’s in culinary arts or even something like business or even nutrition. That said, the amount of time that you remain in culinary school varies. The Colorado’s Culinary School of the Rockies offers a part-time 18-month program while the New York’s renowned Culinary Institute of America will earn you a bachelor’s degree after four years. It all depends on the kind of culinary program you gravitate to the most.
Apply for an internship. There’s not one industry where it doesn’t prove to be beneficial for people to apply for an internship, including when it comes to becoming a chef. The good news is that many culinary programs are connected to hotels and restaurants that look for students to intern at their establishments; it’s definitely a great way to gain some solid work experience before applying for a job. Something else to consider is applying for an apprenticeship. For instance, the American Culinary Federation has a program that lasts between 2-3 years.
Become certified. When you’re watching the Food Network or you’re doing some shopping on a website like ChefWorks.com, you might wonder what kind of certifications the featured chefs received in order to become so well-known. The reality is that there is no state in the country that actually requires that a chef become certified in order to work; however, by getting certain certifications, it can make you more desirable to employers. For more information on the various certifications that are available, visit ChefCertification.com.
Know the reality of the business. In all fairness, we do feel like we should mention that there are some people who work as chefs who didn’t go to culinary school nor did they intern or become certified. But there are also successful journalists who never studied writing and even Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah Winfrey dropped out of college. However, by following the training steps that we provided, there’s a better chance that you will progress in the field than those who did not. As it relates to figuring out the return on your training investment, being that many chefs start out in an entry-level kitchen making somewhere between $9-12 per hour, just make sure that the main reason you’re going into the field is for the love of cooking. And that everything else is just (pardon the pun) the icing on the cake.