What a Chef Does
Chefs are usually in charge of food preparation at restaurants and other settings where food is prepared and served. Their duties include checking the freshness of ingredients and food, preparing menus, supervising cooks, developing recipes and ensuring quality meals.
Other duties are overseeing the presentation of dishes, determining the amount and cost of foods and supplies, ordering food and kitchen supplies, ensure cleanliness and sanitation processes are followed, and finally ensure that everyone working in the kitchen follows safety procedures.
Types of Chefs and Head Cooks
- Executive chefs, head cooks, and chefs de cuisine:they carry out administrative tasks, train cooks and food preparation workers, design menus and review purchase of foods and beverages.
- Sous Chefs:they prepare meals, supervise cooks and answer to head chefs. They temporarily take on the role of head chefs in the event that the chefs are absent.
- Private household chefs:they work for individual clients on fulltime or part-time basis.
Steps to becoming a Chef
Step 1: ATTEND A CULINARY ARTS SCHOOL
For those who wish to get formal education, attending a college that offers programs for aspiring chefs is a viable move.
There are plenty of training schools, community colleges, and 4-year colleges that offer culinary programs. Students learn how to plan menus, purchasing and inventory, and food sanitation.
Step 2: BEGIN TO WORK IN A RELATED OCCUPATION
You may choose to work under a professional chef, as a line cook to gain experience and learn from experts. Before long, you’ll have acquired valuable cooking skills and knowledge in menus, recipe preparation and presentation of meals.
Step 3: AIM TO TRAIN ON THE JOB
There are several apprenticeship and mentorship programs that give individuals the opportunity to acquire the same skills as in a college program. This is where most chefs and cooks begin their journey as experts in food preparation.
Everyone participating in the program is normally under the supervision of experienced and established chefs. Some of these programs take up to 2 years and participants learn equipment operation and food safety & sanitation among other skills.
Chef Related Certifications
- ACF certifications:the American Culinary Foundation (ACF) offers 14 certifications for personal chefs, cooking professionals, baking and pastry professionals, culinary administrators and culinary educators.
- APPCA Certifications:the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA) offers training and certification to personal chefs. It offers examinations through the ACF/APPCA Certification Partnership.
- National Restaurant Association Certification:the National Restaurant Association offers training programs such as the ServSafe Food Safety where successful candidates earn certification. The certification is accepted in all states.
Important Skills and Abilities for a Chef
- Business skills:Executive chefs, self-employed or working for someone need to know how to plan budgets, create prices and manage restaurant workers so that the business makes profits.
- Communication skills:they require these skills so that they can communicate a customer’s orders clearly to other workers to ensure that the food is prepared accordingly.
- Creativity:they’ll need to come up with ideas on how to prepare new and interesting recipes. It’ll also help them blend ingredients to create exquisite dishes.
- Leadership skills:Chefs require leadership skills to guide other kitchen staff, motivate them and create strong relationships with them.
- Physical stamina:this will help them work long shifts managing the preparation and serving of meals.
- Sense of taste and smell:an excellent sense of taste and smell will help them determine the quality of food and create meals that customers will enjoy.
- Time-management skills:they should be able to manage their time and that of their staff. Proper time-management skills also ensure that food is prepared correctly and served on time, even when the restaurant is busy.
- Problem Sensitivity:having this ability will help them sense or recognize a problem in the kitchen, with workers or with equipment.