Chefs prepare food in restaurants, cafes, bars and hotels. Some work for a catering company.
The work varies depending on the level of experience and responsibility, and also the type of operation and style of food offered:
· commis chefs (trainees or apprentice) spend time learning skills in each section of the kitchen
· chefs de partie run a section of the kitchen, such as sauces, pastries, the larder or grill
· sous chefs may deputise in the absence of the head chef
· head chefs are responsible for the whole kitchen
Chefs almost always work shifts, with overtime during busy periods. Chefs working for a catering company may work more regular hours. Kitchens are hot, steamy, noisy and hectic places to work. Chefs have to prepare meals quickly without reducing quality. They are on their feet for most of the time.
Salaries for chefs range from around £12,000 to £60,000 a year or more.
· be able to stay calm under pressure
· be able to cope with several tasks at once
· work effectively as part of a team
· use creativity and imagination in food presentation
· have a real passion for food and the industry
Chefs/cooks are employed in a wide range of eating establishments, including restaurants, hotels and fast-food outlets. There is currently a shortage of qualified and experienced chefs.
Many chefs start without any formal qualifications and learn their skills in the kitchen. However, relevant qualifications can be useful and include NVQs, HNCs or HNDs in professional cookery or degrees and foundation degrees in professional culinary arts and culinary arts management.
There are Apprenticeships in hospitality. The Diploma in hospitality may also be relevant for this type of work.
Apprentices spend time working alongside an experienced chef, whilst training at a college or other learning provider. They work towards NVQs at Levels 2 and 3 in various aspects of food preparation and cookery.
Some trainees may choose to specialise in areas such as kitchen, larder, confectionery or patisserie.
In larger organisations, chefs may be able to work their way up to head or executive chef. In smaller businesses, progression may mean moving to another employer. Experienced chefs may move into a related role, such as managing the food and drinks side of a hotel business or running their own restaurant or pub.
- Catering or restaurant manager
- Counter service assistant
- Kitchen assistant
- Kitchen manager (head chef)
- Kitchen porter
- Merchant navy rating
- Waiting staff