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Career Advice

How to Become a Chef

chefTV celebrity chefs aside, the image of the hospitality industry can still appear like a pretty frantic and busy environment to work in. Before starting this article, I promised myself that I would not make any cheesy jokes about becoming a Chef, nor would I ham up the article with food based jokes – but it’s tough – real tough!  However if you do read on you will find fewer quips and puns and lots of information on the qualifications, experience and skills required to become a Chef. Still hungry to find out more? Read on:

There are a range of job titles associated with being a Chef. From a trainee level role up to Sous Chef and Head Chef, each one carries particular responsibilities and job duties, on top of the more generic ‘kitchen’ responsibilities required for preparing and cooking food for a restaurant. At a Senior level, you may become less hands on and more responsible for the finances, planning and organisation. That said, if you work in a small kitchen and have a small team, you may be tasked with designing menus and preparing food on a daily and weekly basis, even if you are at a Senior level.

Qualifications (UK)

Qualifications are certainly not a bad thing. Anyone who has a clear understanding on the type of career that they wish to have and who happens to be still ‘in education’ will benefit from hospitality qualifications, should they decide that they want to become a Chef. BTECs, HNDs and degrees all have qualifications in catering, cookery and hospitality related areas. It would certainly do you no harm if you are still in education to gain further qualifications. However, as this is very much a hands-on job where you will literally learn your trade in the kitchen, gaining practical experience is essential. In this type of job – you cannot talk the talk, unless you walk the walk.


Irrespective of qualifications, (unless you are on a trainee management scheme with a large employer) you will generally need to start from the bottom and work your way up. Therefore it is essential to gain practical work experience as soon as possible, be that as a pot scrubber, kitchen assistant or general dogsbody! Top Chefs still need to learn their trade and the best way to do this is to get as hands on as possible. Don’t think that because you have a qualification in cookery that it makes you a good cook – only years of testing, learning (and making mistakes) will give you that level of experience.

Type of Person

Unsociable hours. Weekend work. Stressful environment – and lots of heat. I myself love cooking, however there is a major difference between liking to cook and working full time as a Chef. If you want to become a Chef, you will need to appreciate that you often get little reward for an awful lot of hard work. You will also need to be able to take instructions easily, and when you become a Chef be able to direct and manage others in a stressful and busy environment. A love of food and cooking is an obvious advantage – as is talent and at the highest level – an artist flair!

Still fancy a career as a Chef? Good luck!! We hope these basic tips help you along the way…

Looking for a job, but not too sure what career path to follow? Check out TheEmployable “How to Become” career directory





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