Reference and Education

How to Become a Chef: A Step by Step Guide

How to Become a Chef: A Step by Step Guide

Did you know that the number of people working as chefs is growing exponentially? Between 2018 and 2019, the profession grew at a rate of 10.3%. So, if you’re considering becoming a chef, you’ll be in good company.

There’s more to this career path than donning a chef’s hat and being a whiz with a whisk. Keep reading to find our step-by-step guide on how to become a chef.

1. Get an Entry-Level Restaurant Position

If you know you’re interested in working as a chef, start by getting experience in a restaurant. If you’re going in with absolutely zero experience, you’ll have to work your way up to cook. You may start off as a dishwasher or food runner until you get the hang of things.

The next step up will be working as a prep or line cook. These positions will give you first-hand experience of cooking professionally so the sooner you can get your foot in the door of a restaurant, the better.

2. Get Into Culinary School

While a culinary school degree isn’t necessary for a chef, it does give you an advantage over your competition. Going to school will give you a baseline skillset that will set you apart from others vying for similar positions.

There are many options for culinary degrees and diplomas. Is there a particular specialization you’re curious about or are you hoping for a well-rounded program to learn everything? There are bachelor’s or associates degrees in culinary arts or specializations such as bakery or pastry arts.

3. Earn Work Experience

If you choose to go to culinary school, you may consider completing an internship to get more experience. Some programs might have work experience built right into the program. Getting work experience through school will provide you with valuable connections and opportunities to network with prospective employers.

4. Get a Certification

Like culinary school, certifications are not necessary to become a chef. They can, however, help you score higher-level positions and put you at the forefront for promotions.

At the time of writing, there are 16 certification levels from the American Culinary Federation. You can earn titles like Certified Culinarian®, Certified Sous Chef®, or Certified Pastry Culinarian®.

5. Get Your Chef Equipment

No chef is complete without his arsenal of culinary tools, equipment, and gear. Some restaurants will provide you with the necessary equipment but you might consider bringing your own along with you.

The main culinary tools to invest in include:

  • a high-quality set of chef’s knives
  • pots and pans
  • cutting and chopping boards
  • tongs
  • peelers
  • a mandoline
  • meat thermometer

You might also wish to invest in a black chef jacket so you can start feeling and looking the part.

It’s Time to Become a Chef

Now you know how to become a chef, it’s time to pull the trigger. If you’re not sure this career path is right for you, start by getting a job at a restaurant. This will give you the experience you need to decide if becoming a professional chef is your calling.

Keep browsing our blogs for education and business tips to help you in your job hunt.

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