How To Become A Chef In The UK Including Training And NVQ Diploma Qualifications

How to become a chef in the UK is something more and more people are asking themselves. If you are interested in becoming a chef learn the essential information from a  current working chef.

With the rise of celebrity chefs and many great chef/cooking-related TV programmes the rise of becoming a chef has started to be a reality for many people.

Discover the key steps on how to become a chef in the UK, including training and gaining experience.

How do I become a chef? is a question people are asking themselves more and more. So how can you get yourself into this highly rewarding career?

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How To Become A Chef In The UK

It is not essential for qualifications to be gained to get on to the ladder as a chef and have a successful chef career. However, achieving qualifications are a fantastic idea and if you have the drive to achieve recognised qualifications it is highly recommended that you do.

“Qualifications are not essential but will give you experience and you will learn how to do things correctly.”

When you decide further on in your career that you want to work in a lower level kitchen, this can be easily done. Although if you start at a lower level and want to work in a high-level kitchen further in your career.

This will be extremely hard due to a lack of training in a high-level kitchen.

Learn To Be A Chef  In The UK

7Frequently Asked Questions To Become A Chef

 1. What Basic Qualifications Are Needed?

Basic Food Hygiene Certificate (Needs to be updated every 3 years)

Part of the food safety requirements in any food handling workplace is a Food Hygiene Certificate; the CIEH Foundation Certificate in Food Hygiene will be needed to fulfil your training.

There are other training bodies that offer the same course including HABC (Highfield Awarding Body for Compliance}. –

For you to achieve this certificate you will need to attend a 1 day – 6-hour training course followed by a multiple choice exam.

You will need to complete the exam. Also making sure that you sign the document and by correctly answering at least 20 questions you will be awarded the certificate.

The importance of gaining the correct training at the start of your career is important. Working in a kitchen where there is a lack of discipline is not a good idea as you will only pick up bad habits.

 2. What Is A Chef?

The chef brigade will consist of a number of chef levels, commis chef, chef de partie, sous chef, and the head chef. The head chef will be in charge and run the operation, the chef’s jobs will include:

  • Writing menus
  • Budget control
  • And looking after any staff issues.

The higher-level chefs will have all worked as a commis chef. They will have worked their way up the kitchen brigade ladder.

The higher the level of chef within the brigade, the higher the salary and will increase accordingly.

Chefs can work in a variety of places, these will include: restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, event catering, hospitals, offices, and the list goes on.

Live Work Create

  3.Two Chef Position – Examples A Chef-de-Partie And The Pastry Chef

Chef de partie

The main jobs of a chef de partie are the overseeing of a specific section within the kitchen, the main sections being: pastry, meat, sauces, fish, vegetables and the starter section.

During busy periods or in larger kitchens the chef de partie may have some help. The help will be from a demi chef de partie or a commis chef who is at a lower level. And as they are still learning how to become a chef in the UK in a professional kitchen. So you will need to manage your staff in the correct way.

Main jobs will include:

  • Prep work and the cooking of foods within your section
  • You will need to train any junior chefs working with you
  • Being aware of portion control and waste management.
  • As a chef de partie you will also have the opportunity to help the head chef with new menu ideas.

INSIDERS TIP 

“When choosing your career path it is recommended that you start your path in the highest-level kitchen possible.

This will ensure that you learn the job correctly without picking up any bad habits. The experience gained here will be extremely valuable for a successful career.”

Pastry chef
Pastry chefs are employed in a range of places, including larger hotels, restaurants, cruise ships and bistros. Bakeries and patisseries also employ pastry chefs.

To become a pastry chef it is a good idea to attend a formal training course, and gain qualifications. Furthermore, this will give the correct skills needed to start a successful pastry chef career.

 4. How To Gain Essential Experience When You Begin Your Career

To gain the essential experience all chefs need experience and are crucial for a successful professional chef career. Ways of gaining experience include:

  • At college, on many college courses, there are practical elements
  • Write a letter to your favourite restaurant and ask for some work experienceApply for commis chef jobs at the best kitchens. Also working in high-end kitchens will give the correct training and skills to any chef.

“Antonin Careme is thought of as the first famous chef. An early developer of the refined French style of food we have today, also known as “The king of chefs and chef to kings”

 5. What Is The Average Chef Salary?

When starting a chef career you will need to start as a commis chef even if you have completed a college course. This means the salary will reflect accordingly.

When you have a good foundation as a chef a lot more doors will open and as you progress up the ladder the salary will increase with the higher responsibilities.

  • Average chef salaries in the UK

Commis chef         £15000 – £21000   Average =  £17000
Chef de partie       £19000 – £23000   Average =  £20500
Pastry chef             £21000 – £29000   Average =  £25000

Sous chef                £23000 – £29000   Average = £23500
Head chef               £21000 – £32000   Average =  £25500
Executive chef      £25000 – £38000   Average =  £35000

6. Can I Open My Own Restaurant?

Yes, you can, many chefs put obstacles in the way when asking themselves this question. When you are skilled as a chef there are many ways to run your own business, this may include:

  • A restaurant
  • Outside catering
  • A personal chef
  • A shop selling your foods – bakery or patisserie
  • A pop-up restaurant

Productivity Chef Business

7. How Do I Start My Own Business?

Firstly decide on the style of business you want to run and write a business plan. And if you have funds to open a restaurant great.

If not then, personal chefs or pop-up restaurants are a great idea as the outlay will be a lot less.

Having a website and using social media to promote yourself is a fantastic idea. And in today’s market, you can promote yourself at a  relatively low cost for the potential returns on investment.

It is possible to run a specialist dinner once a week as a pop-up restaurant and promote yourself on the Internet at a low cost.

The outlay will be lower than opening a restaurant and it is a good idea to test out new concepts to see if they work.

Website Laptop

Becoming a chef in the UK is rewarding in-demand career and to achieve your full success as a professional chef the correct training at the start is crucial.

Gaining qualifications is highly recommended and achieving the best job possible is a must as picking up bad habits is bad for your development.

Furthermore, with the correct training, perseverance and patience a professional chef can achieve success as an entrepreneurial chef.

How To Become A Chef With No Experience

Chef Plating Food

There has never been a better time to become a chef and start a rewarding career than today. Are you asking the question of how do I become a chef with no experience?

Do you have a passion for food and enthusiasm to work in a great team then a chef career could be for you? Do you have no experience and only a basic qualification level achieved?

Then once more a chef career could be the ideal opportunity for you to achieve professional success.

So you have an interest in food that could develop into a passion and a desire to become a successful professional chef. Today – right now is the right time to follow your dream. There are many opportunities out there in today’s service industry specifically the hospitality industry.

There are people who have done just that and taken action on their career today. They are the ones who will be getting into the jobs tomorrow by taking action today. They are aware that they can become chefs having answered the question of how do I become a chef with no experience.

Becoming a chef is a fantastic choice of career if you are willing to work hard and persevere to achieve your ambitions. With the correct plans in place to follow anyone can become a chef.

You can begin your journey today. HOW. You may think you need qualifications and college education to begin your first job as a commis chef.

This, however – is not true as becoming a chef is possible for anyone with the correct guidance and attitude.

Here are my four top tips for becoming a chef with no experience

 1. Start from the bottom

Starting from the bottom of the kitchen (wash up) is a great way to get yourself into your first kitchen. Furthermore in your first commis chef job.

It is easy to find a kitchen porters job (wash up). Contact the establishments you wish to take a commis chef’s job and ask if they have any kitchen porter jobs.

You will find a job quickly as kitchen porters are in demand. Show your enthusiasm, interest in cooking and wanting to become a chef, also watch the chefs working to learn how they work.

Also, do a great kitchen porters job. This could take 3 – 6 months for you to get noticed as a future commis chef.

2.Networking

Networking can be used as a powerful tool. If you know anybody within your friends or family that are working within the industry ask them if they have heard about any vacancies.

Social media is a fantastic tool. Build up friends and like pages relevant to the hospitality industry and keep your eyes peeled for any information that comes up for the recruiting of new staff.

 3.A concise CV

What is a CV?

A CV is a summary of your career history, this is an extremely important document, as it will demonstrate the skills and experience you have gained.

The importance of a well-written CV is crucial to your success in achieving your first commis chef job. Essential points to remember when you are preparing your CV

Your CV needs to be:

    • Easily readable;
    • Well written and concise;
    • Tailored to the job role description;
    • Accurate to your own experience, (do not lie).

“You will also need to have 2 good references, make sure you contact your references so they are aware you will be using them.”

Chef Training Apprenticeship

4.Apprenticeship

As an apprentice, you will work towards a qualification, usually spending one day a week at college. The rest of the week will be spent gaining practical training on the job from industry experienced staff, and you will be paid.

“These are my four insider tips for gaining a commis chef job with no experience.”

How to Become a Chef in the UK Using The 3 Step NVQ Method 

How to become a chef – Firstly, over the past decade or so, the skyrocketing popularity of shows like MasterChef. Has inspired a boom in the number of people desiring to enter the culinary field.

It’s a great time to get into this robust industry, and there are a number of paths to take to make that happen.

The 3 Steps To Becoming A Chef In The Uk

There are no official rules requiring you to go through an accredited course in order to become a professional chef in the UK.

However if you do have the time and means to complete culinary training courses, it will give you an advantage. By equipping you with the correct technical skills to start your career off on the right foot.

Those who opt out of the professional education route will need to spend a considerable amount of time working in kitchens with skilled and knowledgeable executive chefs in order to learn the ropes through experience.

How To Become A Chef Education Options in England

There is a generous suite of choices when it comes to becoming a chef in the UK. You may opt to obtain a traditional two-year or four-year culinary or hospitality degree.

When considering how to become a chef colleges and universities such as Westminster Kingsway and Northumberland also offer the Professional Chef Diploma course.

Also, this is more of a fast-track cookery training course.

Restaurant Sign

NVQ Diploma in Food Preparation and Cookery

The NVQ (National Vocational Qualifications) Diploma is a nationally recognised certification and consists of three levels. Typically done on a full-time basis, each one lasting a full school year.

Certificate in Food Preparation and Cooking

The Level 1 Certificate in Food Preparation and Cooking consists of foundation skills, including the following:

  • Preparing meat, vegetables, rice, pasta, and basic dough products
  • Food safety including during cooking and storage
  • Maintaining a hygienic and safe work environment
  • Working effectively with a team

NVQ Level 1 provides basic practical cooking skills and an overview of the catering and hospitality field for those interested in becoming a chef in the UK.

This course is generally followed by progression to the NVQ Level 2 course.

The Level 2 Certificate in Food Preparation and Cooking

The second portion of the NVQ course is appropriate for those who have completed Level 1, and/or are already working in the food preparation, catering, or hospitality industry and wish to advance their skills and job prospects. If you haven’t completed Level 1, you will typically be required to undergo an interview.

This level includes training in the following skills:

    • Food safety for catering
    • Menu planning and kitchen operations
    • Further study of the hospitality/catering industry
    • Preparing soups, stocks, and sauces
    • Preparing fruit and vegetables
    • meat, poultry, and offal
    • Preparing rice, grains, pasta, and eggs
    • Preparing desserts, puddings, and baked goods

Some colleges allow you to complete Level 2 on a part-time schedule, which is a convenient option for those who are working while going to school.

Professional Chef Qualifications The NVQ Level 2 In CookeryProfessional Chef Route

The professional chef qualifications. NVQ level 2 in cookery is the route taken by many chefs who are in jobs and wish to study alongside their current jobs.

Many of the units covered in the NVQ Level 2 in cookery will also be covered in the VRQ route and Other Chef Diplomas.

The Professional Chef Qualifications
– NVQ Level 2.

This is a recognised certificate within the industry. The course covers all of the basic skills to qualify for chef roles, as well as practical and theory skills.

There are a variety of  NVQ units that will fit in with most workplaces. These include, restaurants, hotels, pubs, hospitals, conference centres and schools.

The professional chef qualifications. Due to the NVQ level, 2 Diploma in cookery is a recognised certificate it will deliver the basic skills needed to succeed in the industry.

Entry Requirements For The Professional Chef Qualifications – NVQ Level 2.

In order to be eligible for the NVQ Level 2 in cookery, you must be working in the industry. Ideally full time, but part-time is minimal. This is needed so that you are able to practice the skills you have learnt in a workplace.

Course Content For The Professional Chef Qualifications  – NVQ Level 2.

The course covers a full range of basic skills needed to work in the industry. Areas the NVQ Level 2 Course Covers Include:

  • How to prepare and cook a wide range of foods 
  • How to present your foods correctly.

A unit on basic knife skills is a part of the course. Furthermore, you will learn how to maintain high standards of food hygiene, health and safety in the workplace and working as a part of a team.

Possible Units Of The Professional Chef Qualifications – NVQ Level 2.

Alongside set units that have to be taken, you will have a wide range of other units to choose from on your course.

You will be able to tailor your choices to the areas in which you want to plan your future career.

Any places where you are employed for at least 30 hours a week and where a range of freshly prepared foods are made on site are suitable for the NVQ Diploma.

Unit – Safe Working Environment:

Overview: 
An in-depth study of health and safety within the workplace, covering all aspects of personal and working safety.

The areas covered will include, personal health and hygiene, keeping a hygienic, safe and secure workplace. With an in-depth look into emergencies in the workplace and understanding – (COSHH).

Do Something Great As A Chef

Unit – Teamwork:

Overview: Covers all areas of teamwork, including following instructions, being organised and being tidy.
The areas covered will include:

  • How to organise and plan your work.
  • Working well with team members.
  • Personal skill development.

Unit – Maintain Food Safety:

Overview: 
An in-depth study of food safety and why food safety is so important. This unit will examine all aspects of how to maintain food safety, such as food prep, cooking food and how to store food correctly.

The areas covered will include:

  • Keeping yourself hygienic and clean.
  • Keeping work areas clean and tidy.
  • HACCP.

Assessment Methods For Taking The NVQ Course In A Working Environment.

With the professional chef qualifications – NVQ Level 2 course you will be tested mainly by observation and being asked questions.

Furthermore, you will need to complete a training log book and may be provided with a trainer who is qualified to oversee your progress.

In addition, you will also be visited by an NVQ tutor on a regular basis. The tutor will check the evidence that you have provided and ask you questions based on your training, written evidence.

There are various ways to complete your NVQ level 2 in cookery.

These ways include: completing all theory work and practical work in your workplace. Also completing practical work in your job, with 1 day at college for further study.

Finally, you will take a test at your relevant college or at work and you will also need to pass a written maths exam.

The NVQ Level 3 Professional Cookery Diploma

The NVQ Level 3 Professional Cookery Diploma provides more advanced, sophisticated techniques. These skills help those aiming to become a chef in the UK to market their skills to high-end establishments.

Topics covered include:

  • Advanced knife skills
  • Preparing seafood such as crustaceans
  • Preparing game meat
  • Finishing techniques
  • Emulsification and clarification
  • Sautéing
  • Classic and modern presentations

Completing all three levels of the NVQ Food Preparation and Cookery Diploma course is an effective way to hone your skills and make you more marketable as a professional in the hospitality industry.

Once you’ve successfully become a chef in the UK, you may opt to move on to the Advanced Chef Diploma course. This is a highly concentrated course lasting 30 days and designed for chefs who already work in the culinary field. It covers additional knowledge on health and safety, technique, and equipment.

Whether your dream is to start a catering business in the UK or become a chef in a high-end restaurant, acquiring all the knowledge you can put you on a solid path to making that dream a reality. 

Final thoughts on becoming a chef with no experience and going through a training course.

Becoming a chef is a rewarding in-demand career that anyone can achieve when asking the question of how do I become a chef with no experience. It is a matter of perseverance and having the correct guidance to achieve professional success.

A chef career is possible with no previous experience or qualifications, and these tips show you how. This is the exact way I started my chef career and achieved my first commis chef job, by starting at the bottom.

What Is Food Safety And Food Hygiene?

What are food safety and food hygiene in today’s kitchens? Firstly food safety is the preparation, handling and the storage of food in safe ways to prevent food-borne illness.

There is a range of safety measures that have to be taken and laws that need to be followed to avoid health hazards to customers.

Consequently, safety measures are put in place with guidelines that need to be followed, these measures are split into two main areas.

  • The safety between the producers of ingredients to the suppliers of foods such as A sauce factory to a restaurant using sauces such as- mayo.
  • The safety between the supplier to the customer such as a restaurant serving a customer.

– What Is Food Safety And Food Hygiene Between Producers And Suppliers (Restaurants)?

Due to this, food safety will monitor the safe practices in certain areas including food labelling, food hygiene, additives and guides on how to manage import and export. In addition also a guide on how to pass the correct certificates for foods.

– What Is Food Safety And Food Hygiene Between Suppliers (Restaurants) And Customers?

The food safety between suppliers and customers will include all the areas around the food being safely delivered to the customer, including the preparation of foods.

– How To Prevent Food Poisoning With Good Food Safety And Food Hygiene.

Food poisoning can be caused by the growth of bacteria in foods, this happens at precise temperatures and some foods are a higher risk than others.

It is possible for food to pass diseases from person to person such as the person preparing the foods to the customer. In the UK as well as many other developed countries there are strict laws and guidelines to follow to prevent food poisoning.

Areas that need to be followed to prevent food poisoning include:

  • Always separate raw and cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination,
  • Cooking foods to healthy temperatures and for a set amount of times,
  • Always store food at the correct temperatures.

Food can become contaminated at any point from the slaughtering of animals to the preparation of dishes for the customer.

The safe conditions that need to be ensured from the production to the serving are known as Food Hygiene.

With bad food hygiene, foods can become contaminated and lead to foodborne disease and the sickness of customers and possible death in extreme cases.

 It is essential that all foods being sold are safe to eat and all staff are trained to understand good food hygiene.

Why Is Good Food Hygiene Good For Your Business?

By following the food hygiene and food safety guidelines your business will be up to date with the current laws and have a 5-star food safety rating will be good for a business’s reputation.

By following the guidelines you will be protecting your customers from illnesses due to food poisoning.

The Main Areas To Focus On  For Good Food Hygiene And Food Safety.

Cross-contamination – Cleaning – Chilling – Cooking

 Clean Kitchen

What Is Cross-contamination?

The main cause of cross contamination is when bacteria is passed from one food to another. This is likely to be when a raw food has dropped onto a ready to eat cooked food.

This can also happen when a raw food has been used as a kitchen tool or placed on a surface. And then a ready to eat food has been used with the same tools or placed on top of the contaminated surface.

 A number of things can be done to prevent cross-contamination. Always clean and disinfect equipment and work surfaces after preparing raw foods and use specific separate tools for raw foods and cooked foods. Having good hand washing sinks and being trained in correct hand washing methods.

The correct storage of foods is essential to prevent cross-contamination. Raw and cooked foods should be kept apart at all times.

Also, all raw foods must be stored below ready to eat foods. Since many kitchens will have separate fridges for raw and cooked foods this will be an ideal solution.

 – How To Have Good Cleaning Practices.

A good cleaning will remove bacteria from hands, work surfaces and kitchen tools. This will help in preventing harmful bacteria from spreading onto foods.

As a result, a number of tasks can be implemented into the working environment to promote effective cleaning including:

  • Make sure staff are trained on when and how to wash hands.
  • Keep food areas clean and disinfected especially after working with raw foods.
  • Always clean as you go, as soon as a mess has been made it should be cleaned.
  • Empty bins regularly to prevent wastage from building up.

– How To Chill Foods Correctly.

Chilling foods is very important to prevent harmful bacteria multiplying. Most of all foods like prepared salads, sandwiches or desserts need to be kept chilled to keep them safe. Furthermore, these types of foods may become harmful if left around at room temperature for long periods of time.

Some precautions that can be taken to prevent this include:

  • Check the foods on delivery, by taking a temperature reading.
  • Do not leave chilled deliveries out of the fridge and put them away immediately.
  • Cooked food especially high-risk foods need to be chilled quickly, many kitchens use blast chillers.
  • Take regular temperature readings of the fridges, to make sure they are working correctly.

– Food Safety During Cooking?

Also correctly cooking foods will kill harmful bacteria. This is why it is very important to understand the correct safe cooking methods and practising them.

Due to this when cooking or reheating foods, use a thermometer to check the temperatures are safe.

Foods that need to be focused on will include poultry, minced meat products and sausages. In these types of foods, there may be harmful bacteria in the centre.

 Areas Where Hygiene Precautions And Rules Are In Place.

Why Are Large Hotels Are A Good Option For A Career Chef

For a career as a chef, large five-star hotels can providea good career route. Large hotels have a dedicated human resources team and will have a process for promoting chefs. For instance, a commis chef has been in the position for a couple of years and a chef de partie position becomes available.

Hotels will give out promotion opportunities to the current staff by a newsletter or notice boards in the hotel or on the website. There will be an interview process to follow even for current employees. So practice interview skills with role plays and answering sample questions.

Also in the larger hotels, there may be a range of restaurants from the staff food kitchen to a fine dining kitchen. Each restaurant will offer a range of skills to learn that the chef can pick up.

And in the large 5star hotels there will be many positions from commis chefs, chef de parties, sous chefs and head chefs. With an executive head chef overseeing the entire business. So for this reason, there will be opportunities to progress on a regular basis.

Once a chef has the experience of working in five-star hotels. Then the opportunity to move into other top places becomes possible.

– Is it only five-star hotels that have these opportunities?

There are opportunities for a career chef in most restaurants and hotels. However large five-star hotels are a key place to become a chef if you are looking for a long successful career.

Top 3 points to remember;

    • Five-star hotels have a range of quality kitchens to train in.
    • A dedicated professional human resource team developing chefs to progress their careers.
    • A large kitchen brigade with many positions to move into once the chef is ready to move up.
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Christopher Flatt
Hi, my name is Christopher Flatt and i have been immersed in the hospitality industry since 1996