Culinary Arts Schools - Is Being a Chef Right for You?

Is Being a Chef Right for You?
By Paula Carnogoy, Only Cookware

If you love preparing and cooking food and would like to make it a long-term career, there are a number of different employment opportunities, and one of the more interesting and fulfilling of these is the position of chef. The best chefs in the world are very passionate about the food they prepare, and it can be an extremely rewarding career for anyone with a fascination for food.

Like any other job, you will start at the bottom doing menial tasks, however, this is where the learning truly begins, so it is imperative that you take advantage of everything that is taught to you at this stage. As you become more skilful, speedy, and accurate with your preparation, it won't be long before you begin to move up the ranks and away from being just the apprentice and through to the ultimate executive chef level.

A chef not only needs to be a talented cook but also a good people manager and be able to operate in stressful situations. It is no longer acceptable for a chef to be bad tempered and yell at the staff. Often the chef is required to socialize with customers as well as maintain a healthy relationship with staff. There is training available such as public speaking and management classes for this aspect of the business.

As a chef you will need to be physically strong as standing on your feet all day can be physically draining. Plus you will need to be able to lift and carry heavy quantities of food.

Today's chef also needs to be computer literate, as the further your career progresses the less time you are likely to spend cooking and more time planning menus and estimating food and labor costs.

Young people starting out in their career have the choice of attending culinary school or taking a position in a restaurant to gain experience. Both have their advantages. You will learn all about the background to all aspects of working in the kitchen and food preparation including health and safety requirements. Your training will continue through the years as you progress and as your skill develops you will be given more responsibility. You will need to be reliable and committed as you will be working in a team situation which will require you to support other staff members.

These attributes will also be required once you reach the status of head chef. Managing a kitchen and being responsible for both the food preparation and staff requires someone with a cool temperament and the ability to sort out problems.

There are some downsides to becoming a chef that you also need to consider. There may be long hours involved so you will need to be prepared to sometimes miss being at home with friends and family at weekends or even holidays as these are generally the busiest times for a chef.

The job can also be stressful especially in busy restaurants so a cool head is important in these situations.

If you seldom think about anything much other than preparing and presenting food and if describing a dish makes your mouth water then pursuing the career of becoming a chef could be the right decision for you. The preparation of food is an art form, and there is nothing quite as satisfying as knowing that your beautifully prepared dish is being appreciated for its look as well as its flavor.

Final Tips

If you are interested in becoming a chef but are not entirely certain it is the career for you, spend a day in a busy restaurant. If you are still in school and have a work experience program, talk to your teachers about spending some of your hours at a café or restaurant.

Talk to people who are in the business already.

Check out feedback from online websites and blogs from people who are involved in the food industry.

Approach a culinary school on their open day and discuss your ambitions with the guidance counselor.

Article provided courtesy of Only Cookware, a consumer guide to cookware.