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Steps You Need To Take To Become A Michelin Star Chef

24/06/2024

One of the most common misunderstandings about Michelin stars is who they are awarded to. In fact, only restaurants receive them, not chefs. So when people say “Michelin-starred chef,” they really mean a chef who works at a restaurant with Michelin stars.

Anonymous Michelin inspectors give these starts. They look for:

  1. Quality ingredients
  2. Skill in preparing food
  3. Flavors that work well together
  4. Consistency in food quality
  5. Value for the price

So does this mean that it is not worth putting your time and resources into becoming a Michelin-star chef, since all the glory takes the restaurant? Absolutely not.

A chef is one of the main faces of the restaurant. They’re the ones who manage the kitchen, create the dishes, and make sure everything runs smoothly. Of course, there are other roles that contribute to this prestigious award, but the chef is the leader. They’re the one who creates the vision of the restaurant and makes sure everything runs as it should.

Therefore, if you have a desire to become a Michelin star chef, we will be happy to advise you on how to achieve this. Let’s start with the first step.

Studying in a culinary school to become a Michelin star chef

First Step to Becoming a Michelin Star Chef: Gain a Strong Culinary Education

A strong culinary education is the foundation for becoming a top chef. While it’s not the only way to learn, formal training can give you a big advantage.

In a culinary school, you can learn the basics and advanced techniques of cooking. You learn about different cuisines, food safety, and how to use kitchen equipment. These schools also help you practice working in a professional kitchen.

There are many options for culinary education:

  1. Culinary institutes and schools: places like the Culinary Institute of America and HRC academy offer full programs.
  2. Community colleges: many have culinary programs that are less expensive.
  3. Apprenticeships: some chefs prefer to learn on the job under experienced professionals.

No matter which path you choose, focus on learning:

  • Knife skills
  • Different cooking methods (roasting, braising, sautéing, etc.)
  • Food science and nutrition
  • Menu planning
  • Kitchen management

It’s also important to learn about many types of cuisines. Michelin-starred restaurants often blend different cooking styles. The more you know, the more creative you can be.

Remember, your education doesn’t stop when you finish the educational establishment. Top chefs keep learning all their life.

Aska 2 Michelin Star Restaurant
Aska, two Michelin-starred, Scandinavian restaurant in Williamsburg

Second Step to Becoming a Michelin Star Chef: Build Experience in Amazing Restaurants

Once you finish your education, you will need to find your first real job in the kitchen. Most chefs start at the bottom and work their way up. A typical kitchen hierarchy looks like this:

  1. Commis Chef (junior cook)
  2. Chef de Partie (station chef)
  3. Sous Chef (second in command)
  4. Head Chef or Executive Chef

Start by applying for entry-level positions in good restaurants. Even if you’re not cooking right away, you’ll learn how a professional kitchen works.

Working with amazing chefs is very valuable. These experienced professionals can teach you:

  • Advanced cooking techniques
  • How to manage a kitchen team
  • Ways to create new dishes
  • How to handle pressure in a busy kitchen

Try to get experience in high-end or Michelin-starred restaurants if possible. These kitchens have high standards that will push you to improve. They often use the best ingredients and most advanced techniques.

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t start in a top restaurant right away. Any kitchen experience is useful. The key is to always learn and improve your skills.

Keep in mind that this stage of your career might involve:

  • Long hours
  • Low pay at first
  • High-stress environments
  • Lots of repetitive tasks

But these challenges will help you build the skills and toughness needed to become a top chef one day.

Beautiful food presentation of a salmon

Third Step to Becoming a Michelin Star Chef: Develop Your Culinary Expertise and Style

As you gain experience, you’ll need to develop your own culinary style. We recommend you to develop these advanced cooking techniques:

  • Molecular gastronomy
  • Sous-vide cooking
  • Advanced pastry techniques
  • Fermentation and pickling

Practice these techniques whenever you can. Try them at home if you can’t at work.

Creating innovative dishes is key for Michelin-level cooking. Start by:

  1. Experimenting with flavor combinations
  2. Trying new ingredients
  3. Playing with textures
  4. Thinking about how to present food in new ways

Remember, innovation doesn’t mean completely new. Often, it’s about improving classic dishes or combining familiar flavors in unexpected ways.

Developing your unique culinary voice means finding what makes your cooking special. This could be:

  • A focus on local ingredients
  • A fusion of different cuisines
  • A modern take on traditional dishes
  • A commitment to sustainable cooking

Your culinary voice should reflect your passions and experiences. It might take time to develop, and that’s okay. Keep trying new things and pay attention to what excites you most about cooking.

A man that became a Michelin star chef

Fourth Step to Becoming a Michelin Star Chef: Getting a Head Chef Position or Creating Your Own Restaurant

As you climb the kitchen ladder, you’ll eventually reach a crossroads: become a head chef or open your own restaurant. Both paths can lead to Michelin status, but they come with different challenges.

If you aim to be a head chef, you’ll need to master more than just cooking. You’ll be the captain of the kitchen ship, steering your team towards culinary excellence. It’s a high-pressure job, but it’s also your chance to shape a restaurant’s entire culinary direction.

Now, if you’re thinking about opening your own place, that’s a completely different story. Sure, you get to call all the shots, but you’ll also have to wear many hats. One day you’re crafting the perfect menu, the next you’re crunching numbers or dealing with suppliers. It’s not just about the food anymore – you’re running a business.

Whether you choose to be a head chef or a restaurant owner, you’ll need to brush up on your business skills. Many chefs take courses in things like budgeting, marketing, and even human resources. It might seem far from the kitchen, but trust us, this knowledge is as essential as knowing how to make the perfect sauce.

Opening your own restaurant is risky, but it can be incredibly rewarding. You’ll need a solid plan, enough money to get started, a great location, and a team that shares your vision. It’s a lot of work, but if you pull it off, you’ll have created something truly your own.

Remember, there’s no one “right” path to Michelin stardom. Some chefs work their way up in established restaurants, while others make their mark with their own places. The key is to keep pushing yourself, keep learning, and never lose sight of what made you fall in love with cooking in the first place.

Michelin star dish

Fifth Step to Becoming a Michelin Star Chef: Create a Michelin Worthy Dining Experience

Now that you’re in a leadership position, it’s time to focus on creating an experience that catches Michelin’s eye. Remember, they’re not just looking at the food – they’re evaluating the whole package.

Let’s start with the obvious: the food

It needs to be exceptional, and consistent. We’re talking about dishes that make people’s eyes light up and have them talking for days after. But it’s not just about fancy techniques or rare ingredients. It’s about creating flavors that work together perfectly, presentation that wows without being gimmicky, and portion sizes that leave diners satisfied but not stuffed.

Provide amazing service

But great food alone won’t cut it. The service needs to be top-notch too. Your staff should know the menu inside out, be able to make smart recommendations, and anticipate guests’ needs before they even realize them. It’s a delicate balance – attentive without being intrusive, friendly without being overly familiar.

Create a great atmosphere

The ambiance matters as well. Whether your style is sleek and modern or cozy and traditional, everything should feel intentional. The lighting, the music, the decor – it all plays a part in the overall experience.

Don’t forget about the little details. The quality of your tableware, even the soap in the restrooms – Michelin inspectors notice it all.

Always keep a high plank

Consistency is key. Michelin inspectors visit restaurants multiple times before awarding stars. You need to nail it every single time, whether it’s a slow Tuesday night or a packed Saturday.

Standout from others

Finally, think about what makes your restaurant unique. Michelin loves places with a clear vision and a story to tell. Maybe it’s your commitment to local ingredients, or a modern take on traditional cuisine, or an innovative cooking technique. Whatever it is, make sure it shines through in every aspect of the dining experience.

Final word

Becoming a Michelin-starred chef isn’t just about reaching a goal — it’s about embracing a lifelong pursuit of culinary excellence. The road is long, challenging, and often unpredictable, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

Remember, even the most acclaimed chefs in the world never stop learning, innovating, and pushing boundaries. They understand that true mastery isn’t about perfection, but about constant growth and adaptation.

Whether you ultimately earn a Michelin star or not, pursuing this path will make you a better chef, a stronger leader, and a true artist in the culinary world. And isn’t that, in itself, a worthy achievement?

Ready to take the first step toward your culinary dreams?

HRC Culinary Academy offers a range of culinary programs designed to build a solid foundation for your culinary career. From basic techniques to advanced skills, our courses will equip you with the knowledge and experience you need to work in the competitive world of professional cooking. Don’t just dream about becoming a top chef — start your journey today with HRC Culinary Academy.

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