14 Dec2018

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Pathways to Explore for Becoming a Chef

Britain is bursting at the seams with high-quality hospitality jobs. The UK hospitality industry contributes an incredible 1% of the nation’s entire annual economic turnover. Nevertheless, this is also one of the most competitive sectors and recruiters are becoming more selective all the time.

Which begs the question – what chance do you have of becoming a successful chef?

Surprisingly, you probably have more of a chance than you’d think. It’s simply a case of accepting that you may have to start right at the bottom of the ladder.

Understanding a Chef’s Role

Before pursuing a position as a chef, you need to think carefully about what it is the professional chef does on a daily basis. Duties vary significantly from one setting to the next, though typically involve the following:

  • Preparation of appropriate menus
  • Cooking and serving of menu items and accompaniments
  • Supervision and replenishment of stock items
  • Preparation of fruits, vegetables and proteins
  • Contributing to workplace health and safety standards
  • Collecting customer feedback
  • Kitchen paperwork and general admin

The higher you climb, the less hands-on the chef’s responsibilities become. At an entry-level position, you can expect to spend your days and nights getting your hands dirty across the entire kitchen.

How to Become a Chef

The good news is that there are no specific qualifications required to pursue a career as a professional chef. Traditional educational accolades are always welcome, but by no means compulsory.

By contrast, you’ll need plenty of experience to climb the career ladder in a professional kitchen. Potential pathways to explore for gaining practical experience include:

  • Apprenticeships with hospitality companies
  • On-the-job training in an entry level role
  • Providing voluntary services for a charitable cause
  • Taking a formal hospitality course
  • Attending a catering school or cooking classes

Any one or more of the above could enhance your appeal in the eyes of employers. Not to mention, accelerate your progression up the career ladder. The earlier you get started, the sooner you’ll be on your way.

Entry-Level Kitchen Positions

Unless you bring invaluable experience and expertise to the table, you’ll need to consider an entry-level position. Even if you have relevant experience, it may still be necessary to demonstrate your capabilities at the bottom of the ladder.

However rudimentary the position, you’ll have secured that all-important ‘foot in the door’. After which, it’s simply a case of building the knowledge, skills and confidence to take your career to the next level.

Some of the most successful and famous chefs worldwide have started their careers in the following roles:

Dishwasher

As the name suggests, the dishwasher is responsible for washing and sanitising crockery, cutlery and cookware. No experience or training is usually required.

Kitchen Porter

The kitchen porter is more of a general assistant, doing whatever needs to be done to enable the chefs to do their job. Typical duties may include basic food preparation, workstation preparation and end-of-shift shutdowns.

Line Chef

Often the first formal position in the career of a successful chef, the line chef covers the vast majority of basic cooking duties across the kitchen. You’ll typically need a decent level of experience and expertise to secure a job as a line chef.

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