Is Being a Chef a Good Career Choice?
If you love trying out new recipes and learning new techniques in the kitchen, you might have a passion for culinary arts that could become a career. Your love of all different cuisines, always trying something new may reflect a gift for becoming a chef.
Quite different from your standard office job, working as a chef provides you with a fast-paced, exciting and unique career option. It can be tiring at times as long hours take a lot out of you, but this is also a very rewarding position that can take you to places all over the world.
If you’re considering becoming a chef, this article is designed to help you determine if this is the right job for you. We’ll dive into the various pros and cons of working in this field, helping you realize whether this is the dream job that you’ve always wanted or whether there is a different direction you would like to go in.
Is Chef a Good Career? What are the Pros?
There are a lot of benefits that come with being a professional chef, but you might be wondering if being a cook is a good job. It’s a lucrative job that allows you to work your way up the corporate ladder based on your performance, but here are some of the other benefits to consider as well:
Creative Expression and Experimentation
Depending on where you work, you get to express yourself through the creations you come up with in the kitchen. Some restaurants are very focused on presentation, bringing a very artistic aspect to the job. You can learn about the clientele that visits your restaurant, coming up with menu items that will appeal to that demographic. You won’t always get it right the first time, but working for a restaurant that provides you that creative freedom is incredibly valuable.
Opportunities for Growth and Advancement
It’s likely that you’ll need to start in an entry-level job when you first graduate from culinary school, but there are a lot of opportunities for advancement when you work in this field. You can work your way up the corporate ladder where you are currently located, but you can work your way around the hospitality and restaurant industry wherever you’re located. Your career goals may even take you to other countries as you follow your dream. As you progress, you may get to learn from some of the very best in the industry.
Some people thrive off of having a routine, while others really prefer a more fast-paced environment where things are always changing. When you’re working as a chef, you don’t always know who will be coming into your restaurant, how busy things may get, who will be ordering what dishes, etc. You have to be ready at all times to adjust accordingly.
Things that Scare People Regarding Becoming a Chief
There are a number of challenges that you will face as a chef. If this is the career for you, then you have to be ready for whatever comes your way. One of the main things that deter people from becoming a chef is the long hours that you have to put in. Depending on what your position is, you may be working many hours in a row, on your feet the entire time. It’s a physically demanding job for sure. The hours can really vary as well, with the prospect of having to work evenings and weekends.
If you have a high-up position within a kitchen, you’re responsible for a team and the product that the kitchen is putting out into the restaurant. A lot of pressure can come from that realization. There is also the focus on food allergies that has become a common issue. If your restaurant is going to accommodate people with different allergies and dietary restrictions, you’ll need to make sure that everyone is trained on preventing cross-contamination, how to exclude certain ingredients from a recipe, etc.
Despite all of the potential challenges that you may face as a chef, this is still a profession that is well worth the time it takes to go through culinary school and establish your career. Are you motivated to become a professional chef? Then continue reading to find out more.
Skills and Qualities Needed to be a Successful Chef
Some of the best chefs in the world share some similar qualities that have helped them become the success story that they are today. Let’s look at some of the soft skills that you may bring to the table as a chef.
The Ability to Work Under Pressure
Can you adapt to any situation that you’re presented with? Can you handle pressure and stress with a high level of professionalism? If so, you are likely capable of handling a high-stress, professional kitchen.
Time Management Skills
It’s really important that you can multi-task throughout the workday when you’re a professional chef. There are a lot of different things that need to be addressed, from food preparation to cooking and even cleaning. It all needs to get done in a timely manner when you have customers waiting in the dining room.
Attention to Detail
There is detail in how you prepare food, how food is plated and even how a restaurant looks. Being able to manage all of these details determines your professional success and the success of the location where you work.
The staff of a restaurant typically becomes very close the more that they work together. Being able to work with other people, respecting their opinions and working through conflict are all important qualities of being a chef.
If you’re looking to work your way up your career field in culinary arts, it’s important that you’re able to manage others with respect, react professionally to any issues that come up and listen to what customers are saying.
Being able to maintain the same quality food items day after day is important, but there’s also some creativity that you need to bring to the table. You may be asked to come up with a new menu item, find ways to engage with new clientele on social media or schedule special features for holidays.
Different Types of Chef Careers
There are different types of chefs within a kitchen. It’s helpful to know a little bit about each, but there may be one that stands out to you as far as being the most interesting.
An executive chef oversees all of the different preparation that occurs in a kitchen, ensuring all meals being made are consistent in presentation and quality. This position may also take on different aspects of a kitchen budget. The average pay for an executive chef is £81,903 per year, but this number can vary quite a bit based on what kind of restaurant the position is located in.
This is typically the second in command within a kitchen. Working under the executive chef, the sous chef is usually responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations and supervising the rest of the staff. The average salary for a sous chef is approximately £36,180 per year.
A pastry chef will focus exclusively on the baked goods and desserts of a kitchen. £29,476 is the average salary for this type of chef.
A private chef doesn’t work within a large-scale restaurant. Rather, they will work for one specific individual, preparing their meals exclusively. Pay will vary and is based on an individual contract between the chef and the employer.
How are Chefs’ Salaries Determined?
When the salary of a chef is determined, certain considerations include the location, the type of restaurant that the job is at and the specific skills and experiences of the prospective chef.
What is the Way of the Chef: How to Start the Career?
If you’ve determined that you want to become a professional chef, the first thing that you’ll want to do is get accepted into a culinary school that has the type of program that you want to complete. It can be difficult to be accepted into one of the top European culinary schools, not to mention that most are extremely expensive. Fortunately, there are options that are just a fraction of the price.
Such options include:
- Applying to less popular but the same high-level standards culinary schools in regions like Eastern Europe.
- Using an internship to gain industry experience.
- Obtaining an entry-level job and working your way up through experience.
Q: Is being a chef a high-stress job?
A: Being a chef can be a very stressful job. However, that stress can be managed effectively, especially if you truly love the field that you work in.
Q: Can you become a chef without attending culinary school?
A: Though culinary school can be a very helpful tool for advancing your career as a chef, you can also obtain different certifications and work your way up the corporate ladder starting with an entry-level position.
Q: What is the difference between a chef and a cook?
A: A cook has the knowledge to simply follow recipes and cook food that way. A chef has a great understanding of different techniques, flavors and foods that takes their food preparation to the next level.
Q: Is the culinary industry growing?
Employment within the culinary industry is expected to grow 16 percent from 2021 to 2031.
Are you Ready to be a Chef?
Becoming a chef is an excellent career option if you’re someone that appreciates different types of cuisine and how food is made. If you’ve worked at all in the culinary industry, then you may have already fallen in love with how flexible and fast-paced it can be. The next step in becoming the very best chef that you can be is to look for entry into a culinary academy. If you’re curious about the process of admission, you can take a look at our article “How to Get into a Culinary School”.see all posts