How to Become a Chef

how to become a chef

The Basics of Becoming a Chef or a Cook

Are you investigating how to become a Chef or a Cook? As most people know, the main requirements to become a chef are to be able to prepare foods for a restaurant or organization. Bud did you know they are also responsible for many other tasks in the kitchen including planning and pricing the menu, monitor sanitation, order supplies and checking the quality of the supplies received . They also likely supervise and train other food preparation workers.

In general, you do not necessarily need to have a degree or other program certificate to become a Chef, however, most chefs in today’s market are receiving training at culinary arts schools, technical schools or community colleges.[ii]

Why might formal training be important? Earning a culinary degree is more than just about learning to cook, these programs often also teach menu planning, sanitation practices and inventory methods.

What Does It Take to Become a Chef?

The most difficult thing to accomplish in becoming a great chef is acquiring the technical skills necessary to become a great cook and above all else developing one's own palate and sense of taste.

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Mastering the skills to become a great cook is not something that is accomplished overnight. It takes years of self-discipline; mental and physical stamina; and constant repetition of the same techniques no matter how tedious this might appear to be.

Ted Siegel - Chef Instructor at Institute of Culinary Education
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- Ted Siegel, Chef Instructor @Institute of Culinary Education

What Are the Challenges to Becoming a Chef?

One of the biggest challenge is working long hours, during off-time periods (late nights, weekends, holidays) doing tough, physical work in a demanding kitchen environment. To overcome this, chefs should stay focused on personal and professional goals; the space and people around you are part of the reality of getting where you want to go. Click To Tweet!click to tweet

Practice makes perfect- don’t become bored with repetitive tasks- see them as challenges to work faster and more precisely each time you perform them.
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 - Chef Instructor - Michael Handal
- Michael Handal, Chef Instructor @Institute of Culinary Education

A Chef's Salary Potential

Average Salary for a Chef
[ABOVE] National Average Chef Salary[iii]

Top States with the Highest Salary Averages[iv]

StatesLowest 10th% SalaryHighest 90th% Salary
Delaware$35,700$73,070
District of Columbia$33,940$94,700
New Jersey$33,900$85,970
Nevada$31,970$78,550
Vermont$31,490$71,770

How Do Your Skills Stack Up?

Importance to day to day life of a Chef

As reported by O*NET, these traits are ranked as either extremely or very important to the day to day life of a Chef?[i]

What Will You Learn with an Associate of Science in Culinary Arts Degree?

An associate degree in culinary arts usually features courses like the following:

  • Principles of Food
  • Classical French Cuisine
  • Dining Room Service
  • Pastries & Desserts
  • Stocks & Sauces

Associate-level degrees in culinary art are designed to give students foundational knowledge of food—including preparation and cooking—to help prepare them to pursue entry-level positions in the foodservice industry. Curriculums often include academic courses, laboratory sessions, and externships to provide hands-on experience. In addition to covering different types of cuisine, such as French or American Regional, courses may focus on topics including following a daily production schedule; receiving, storing and issuing food; preparing hot and cold foods; and providing guest satisfaction.

Who are some Famous Chefs?

As reported by Biography.com, a few Chefs that America has come know would include:

  • Bobby Flay: Owner and Executive Chef of several restaurants, including the Mesa Grill in Las Vegas, earned a degree in culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute
  • Gordon Ramsay: Owner of dozens of restaurants that have been awarded 16 Michelin stars, earned a degree in hotel management from North Oxfordshire technical College
  • Emeril Lagasse: Author of several cookbooks and owner of several famous restaurants, attended Johnson & Wales University
  • David Burke: Owner of 12 restaurants throughout the U.S., received a culinary arts degree from the Culinary institute of America

FAQs About How to Become a Chef

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Sources: [i] O*NET | [ii] bls.gov | [iii] bls.gov/oes | [iv] BLS Salary Data | Job information sourced from O*NET