Insider Information On A Chef Career Path
To follow are advice and tips and insider information on the chef career path.
1. Working In A Hotel, Restaurant, Agency As A Chef
When you are deciding on the route to take to become a chef and get onto the chef career path there are a few things to consider. Firstly, where are you going to work? Working as a chef in a hotel, restaurant, gastropub or fine dining restaurants will vary on what you will learn. And the career progression is more available in the larger workplaces. Hotels can be more structured in their development of chefs. The 5-star hotels are the best to get into as many positions become available as chefs are moving around the different outlets of the business.
This makes promotion easier without needing to change the workplace so often. This is great for anybody looking to become a career chef. Other smaller places simply do not have as many opportunities. My tip on this is to get into the best quality work place you can, such as fine dining. It is a lot easier to drop down in level later on, however very difficult to move up without any basic fine dining training.
2. The Jobs Of A Commis Chef | The Start Of The Chef Career Path
A commis chef is a position at the bottom of the kitchen brigade and the start of a successful chef career path. Every chef has started on this step of the ladder no matter how successful they are now. Even the high profile celebrity chefs including, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Marco Pierre White all started their careers as a commis chef. A commis chef will be doing the dirty jobs such as passing stocks, peeling potatoes and picking spinach.
All the commis chef skills learnt will help to build a solid base for a chef career. Also, a commis chef who has attended a college course at catering college will be ahead of any other commis chef who has not. Although it is not a requirement to attend college it needs to be taken into consideration. Also, college training will get the chef introduced to the many tools used in a professional kitchen. A tip for any commis chef is to listen and don’t take things personally.
3. The Chefs Kitchen
Once in a professional kitchen, you will need to practice using the tools of the trade. Although it can be daunting using a piece of equipment that is new, it’s recommended to learn as much as you can. Kitchen tools will differ from kitchen to kitchen, such as a vacuum packing machine in one workplace may be a different brand to another. However, they will all do the same job. The essential tools including; knives and chopping boards can also be useful in the home kitchen. The knives that chefs use are very important to do the job with.
Each job will have a specific knife that is suitable for the job. This may be a chef’s knife (chopping knife) used for the rough chopping of root vegetables. Or a 12-inch serrated knife used to portion a quiche. Using the kitchen tools correctly and safely is important to prevent any accidents. My tip here is to ask a question if you are unsure how to use a piece of equipment.
4. Kitchen Fails And Accidents
We’ve all made mistakes in the kitchen. Recipes that have not had the results you were expecting, but may have resulted in something just as tasty. Or maybe a burnt food or a nasty cut. And the professional kitchen is no different. At some point, all chefs are going to have an accident! This may be a deep cut or boiling water being dropped that results in the chef getting scalded. In the kitchen, there are many health and safety precautions put in place to prevent accidents.
All kitchen staff will be trained in health and safety at some point. Also, you need to remember that kitchens are dangerous places to work and be aware of this at all times. A trip or a slip can cause serious injuries with people being out of work for long periods of time. The tip here is to make sure you know what to do if an accident happens.
5. Slow Cooking For Great Results
A cooking technique that is relatively easy to pick up and produces great results is the slow cooking method. Meats such as pork belly, shin of beef or lamb leg are all suitable for slow cooking. This technique is fantastic to produce foods that are tender and full of flavour. Although, slow cooking is not just for the professional kitchens. It is possible to reproduce the slow cooking method in home kitchens too. Remember to be careful when slow cooking, as the food will be covered in very hot liquid.
6. Key Questions You Should Be Asking Employers
When applying for your future chef role on the chef career path, there are a number of things, you will need to know. These are insider questions that it may be a good idea to find out the answers to. You need to find out areas such as, – Do you pay overtime? And How many extra hours are chefs working? It’s great to be passionate about your job and add value by working extra hours for the team. However, do you really want to be working extra hours on a regular basis with no compensation! It happens a lot to chefs in the industry.
It’s a case of doing your job with passion correctly which all chefs want to do. However, it’s not good to be taken advantage of by employers. Make sure you are clear on this and find out what is in the contract. If an employer is refusing to add any compensation for overtime then this needs to be considered this carefully. Also, if you are working a lot of hours day after day and being paid for it, don’t forget to take breaks. Everybody needs to take time off!
7. How to Get Along with Your Work Colleague And Co-Workers
Getting along with your work colleagues is very important to move a chef career forward. The way a professional kitchen is made up will all depend on the chefs who are working there. Some pro kitchens will have a party style others a more food experimental style it all depends on the chefs. Because of this, there will be some kitchens that a chef will fit into easily and get along with their work colleagues. And others that they will not. Also, it’s good to get into kitchens that you fit into and get along with your colleagues.
By trying to force yourself into a team that you don’t fit will hold a chef’s career progression back. This will cause issues and I would always walk away from a kitchen/business that doesn’t suit my style. Usually, a chef will be on a 3-month trial period where the chef and the kitchen/business can get a feel for each other. This is the main point to consider, and start from a good base to build upon.
8. Asking For A Pay Rise On The Professional Chef Career Path
Every chef is going to get to a point on the chef career path where they feel ready for a pay rise or promotion. Asking for a pay rise needs to be handled carefully, professionally and done with respect. Head chefs or businesses owners are mostly not going to go up to chefs and say; “Here you go take more money and have a promotion”!! This is simply not going to happen.
The chef needs to arrange a meeting to speak to the manager in charge, the head chef or business owner. Once a meeting has been arranged to make sure you have a strong case for your pay rise. Consider this; a chef walks up to their manager and demands a pay rise saying; “I want a pay rise or I will leave, I work hard to do extra hours and should be paid more”. This will get straight to the point. However, it is not structured respectfully.
On the other hand, a chef sets up a meeting professionally with a strong case as to how they have added to the business. Also, the chef shows a commitment to the company. Although kitchens can be pressured workplaces its best not to explode in demands and rudeness.
9. What Exactly Is A Pop-Up Restaurant? And Why Do Chefs Use Them
Number 9 on my list is a look at the pop-up restaurant. Once a chef has a good set of skills under their belt the chef in the business option becomes appealing. Many professional and enthusiastic chefs out there have a desire to start their own business. The chef businesses include home cake and street food operations. However, if a chef wants to test out their ideas and concepts of a pop-up restaurant can be the way forward. A pop-up restaurant does as it says pops up.
This style of business can be held for 1 night to several months in a broad range of places. This may be taking over a bar kitchen for 1 day or a chef building a mobile kitchen and restaurant for a much longer period of time. The advantages of the pop-up restaurant include; the chefs do not need to buy an expensive restaurant, testing out ideas until a popular concept has been built and being able to easily move the pop up to other areas of the country or even the world!!
10. Getting Your Restaurant on the First Page of Google
For any chef getting into their own business, whether it’s a home cake business, a street food truck, a pop-up restaurant or a restaurant. Marketing is going to be very important. The biggest search engine out there is Google, and a chef business at the top of googles pages is going to get a lot of exposure. A great thing about websites and getting to the top of Google, it can be done relatively cheaply if you do it yourself. There are also many companies out there that offer these services. For any chef wanting to get into business should consider having a website carefully. It is possible to also use social media channels such as; Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to get yourself out there.
There are many ways to get into the hospitality industry as a chef. And you should consider the various routes carefully. In addition, Hotels, restaurants, event caterers and fine dining restaurants all have their own advantages and disadvantages. A chef who finds it difficult to fit into one of these workplaces can absolutely nail it in another. I would recommend that anybody getting into the industry or currently in it.
To find the work that suits your skills and personality well. Professional kitchens can be managed in different ways. Some will have a strong, work hard and then work harder and harder. These kitchens can generally have a high turnover of staff due to the unwanted pressure being put on the staff. However, this style will suit some chefs well. Other kitchens have a more relaxed approach and focus on the development of chefs.
If you are going for the foodpreneur direction, once you have the basic skills you may want to consider the chef in business route. Many chefs start on the chef career path and decide it’s not right for them anymore and wants to start their own business. This may be a home-based business, street food business or going full out all guns blazing with a multi-million-pound operation.
Thank you for taking the time to read my post, I hope you have found it of value and helps you on a chef career path. Please check out the rest of my website and don’t forget to like my Facebook, Subscribe to my YouTube channel and Sign Up for offers and a lot more free advice.