A career as a chef can be very satisfying for anyone with a genuine interest in working with food for many reasons. For one thing, there are many different types of chef jobs available at all career levels. This is a career that will allow you to be a generalist, if you are interested in many different areas, or specialize in a particular skill such as grilling or baking if that is your preference. A career in the culinary arts allows chefs to deeply pursue one or two of their strongest career interests – or, just as easily, all of their career interests on a less intense level.
There are also many different settings where one can find chef jobs, from a private household to a large restaurant kitchen to a cruise ship – even a private plane! Whether your interest in a career as a chef stems from a desire to create new and exotic dishes, an ambition to work your way up to being an executive chef who runs their own kitchen, or the simple desire to produce good food – plenty of opportunities are available for you to your mark in the culinary industry as an aspiring chef.
Many chefs choose to work in a variety of different chef roles and specialties until they find an area that particularly suits them. There are as many possible career paths in this profession as there are chefs. However, the one thing that career paths for chefs have in common is that they all start at the same place – the bottom of the chef’s ladder, also known as the chef’s hierarchy, kitchen hierarchy and kitchen ladder. This is where all chefs start when beginning their careers, and there is not a way around it.
If you want to become a chef, you should seriously consider that fact that chefs usually work in tough, often stressful environments. All chefs are also required to take full responsible for the food that they produce, which can be a lot of pressure for types of personalities. Additionally, the kitchen environment often uses a strictly hierarchical management system not unlike that of a military unit, and you will need to be able to accept direct orders without questioning them as well as hand them down if you choose to pursue a chef career.
Another thing to consider is that most chefs work unsociable hours and many also work rotating shifts or have otherwise unstable work schedules. Most chefs are also expected to work during holidays, as this is when many restaurants, catering companies and other types of businesses that serve food are at their busiest. Whether working in the earliest morning hours as a baker, or late into the evening as a grill cook or chef de partie, you can be certain that your chef career will not be built within the confines of 9 to 5 workdays.
Finally, when considering a chef career you should ask yourself what your primary motivations for wanting to become a chef are. A strong desire to work with food should be one of the main reasons for wanting to become a chef.
How to Get Started
There are a few places where you can start a career as a chef. You could choose to go to culinary school. You could start working in the field right away as a kitchen assistant or an apprentice. Or you could work your way through culinary school while gaining valuable on the job experience in one of the previously mentioned entry-level positions. If you do choose to start working in a kitchen right away, you should be aware that you will likely start at a very low salary or hourly wage. However, with the right attitude, it is possible for the beginning chef to progress up the chef’s ladder quite quickly and earn higher pay.
No matter what route you choose to take in order to launch your chef career, you should remember to always take pride in your work. Whether you are serving a paying customer on the job or one of your fellow students in a culinary class, always make sure that you approve only the best food to leave the area of the kitchen that is your responsibility. If you can do this, then you will be in for a very enjoyable and rewarding chef career.