A chef is a trained professional who prepares meals for customers and supervises their kitchen staff. There are many ways to become a chef, and you can pursue a variety of opportunities in this profession. This can be a rewarding career if you’re creative and and enjoy continually learning. In this article, we discuss a chef’s duties and highlight 13 reasons to choose this career.
What does a chef do?
A chef manages all aspects of food preparation at a restaurant, hotel or any other establishment that serves food. They ensure that all team members perform their jobs adequately and meet the kitchen’s quality standards. A chef enforces safety in the kitchen relating to food preparation and sanitation. Depending on the kitchen, a chef also plates and garnishes dishes. They ensure each customer receives a dish that is appealing in terms of taste, smell and visual appearance.
Chefs also perform administrative tasks for their establishment. During slow periods or non-business hours, a chef may evaluate inventory, order kitchen supplies and create work schedules for other employees. They can also help the establishment’s owners or managers create menu items.
13 reasons to become a chef
Here’s a list of 13 reasons to become a chef:
1. You want to travel
Dining establishments exist all over the world, so you can work nearly anywhere as a chef. If you work for a franchised restaurant, you may have the opportunity to transfer to different locations. There are also opportunities to work as a chef on cruise ships, giving you the ability to visit and experience the cultures of multiple countries.
2. You want to experiment with different cuisines
Many chefs begin their careers specializing in a specific cuisine, like French, Greek or Turkish. Some chefs are content with their specialization and focus on it for the duration of their careers, while others explore many types of cuisine to expand their culinary knowledge. You can also try experimenting with fusion cuisine, creating new dishes. Having knowledge of several types of cuisines and cooking techniques can also make you a more competitive candidate.
3. You’re science-oriented
Chefs use science to develop their food preparation techniques and invent new methods of cooking. Chefs understand how cutting, heating and cooling food change its composition. Cooking and food preparation are applied sciences, and chefs understand them fully to succeed at their job.
They may also use tools, like liquid nitrogen and lasers, to prepare traditional dishes in innovative ways. A chef also regularly measures elements in the kitchen using measuring cups, scales and thermometers, which can be rewarding work for an individual who’s interested in the accuracy and precision that are essential in scientific applications.
4. You want to become a better chef in your personal life
Working as a professional chef gives you the chance to hone a skill that’s practical in everyday life. You can apply the techniques you learn at work to the meals you prepare for yourself. As a result, you may be able to prepare healthier meals more efficiently.
5. You enjoy being creative
A career as a chef allows you to exercise your creativity. You can develop your own recipes or alter to existing ones. You can also experiment with different ways to garnish your dishes and impress customers with visual presentations.
During busy work periods or times of inconsistent supply, a chef may find themselves limited on the ingredients they have available. They can use their problem-solving and creative skills to make substitutions where necessary. Many chefs enjoy the excitement that this quick thinking provides.
6. You like working flexible hours
A career as a chef is a great option for individuals who want to work nontraditional hours. For example, a restaurant that serves brunch may only be open from 9 a.m. to 1p.m. A chef who works at a location like this can go to work and come home early, allowing them to spend time with their family and maintain a good work-life balance. Some chefs prefer to work evening hours so they can go to appointments and complete errands during the day.
7. You prefer to remain active while at work
A career as a chef allows individuals to remain physically active. They spend most of their workdays standing and walking while monitoring different areas of the kitchen. They also often lift heavy items, like large stock pots and sacks of rice, making this an ideal job for those who want to be physically active.
8. You want access to self-employment opportunities
After you get some experience as a chef, you can consider opening your own restaurant. Head chefs can choose who they employ, what dishes to serve and what hours to work. Opening your own restaurant can give you personal satisfaction and the flexibility to run an establishment however you want.
9. You want the opportunity to work in various settings
Chefs can work in many different settings, giving them plenty of variety. A chef can work in a restaurant, hotel or another food-service establishment in their area. They can also work as a personal chef for one or several private households.
10. You want to engage in meaningful work
The work a chef does can be very meaningful. They can help customers expand their palate and discover new taste combinations that they had never considered before. Some chefs specialize in creating meals for customers on special gluten-free or keto diets, helping them eat healthily or achieve personal goals.
11. You want to advance in the culinary industry
Becoming a chef is usually the next step to take if you’re a cook. While many people use the terms cook and chef interchangeably, there are some differences. A cook follows pre-existing recipes and techniques to create food, while a chef uses their experience to develop new recipes. You can gain a few years of experience in a kitchen as a cook, then become a chef if you’re interested in advancing your career.
12. You can learn new skills
There are plenty of learning opportunities for a chef. If you’re new to the culinary industry, you can apply for an internship and find a mentor who’s willing to teach you more about the industry. You can also learn new cooking methods and techniques from online videos and other resources.
A formal education isn’t necessary to become a professional chef, but it can be beneficial to pursue one. You can attend a university and earn a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts. You can also attend a culinary school to earn a certification or associate degree, then focus on gaining hands-on experience.
13. You enjoy socializing with many people
A chef is responsible for the actions of many team members. They communicate with their servers, line cooks, dishwashers and fellow chefs to ensure that everything in the kitchen is running as smoothly as possible. A career as a chef is a very social one that allows them to converse with people daily. It’s an ideal job if you like to interact with many different types of people.