If you’re passionate about food, consider becoming a chef

International Chefs Day is commemorated annually on October 20 by Worldchefs. Worldchefs is a global network of chefs associations founded in Paris.

If you’re passionate about food and cooking, why not make it your career? Besides the advantage of engaging in something you love, the career trajectory spans a commis chef, demi chef, chef de partie, sous chef, chef de cuisine and executive chef. Potential employment can range from restaurants, resorts, hotels, clubs, catering companies and resorts to corporate events. The popularity of eating out will probably never cease.

Once you’re qualified and have some experience under your belt, it will be possible to travel as well. You could be responsible for creating tasty gourmet meals on a cruise ship or make a decision to travel – you won’t be limited to working in one place. You could also choose to specialise in a particular niche or specialise in deserts and become a pastry chef. This career path will offer you an extensive variety of options. If you manage to organise financing, you could start your own restaurant. This career also offers an opportunity for experimentation as chefs often expand menu offerings or add new dishes to the range of dishes available.

Time will fly past if your venue is busy, speed is of the essence and you can expect to spend plenty of time on your feet. You will need to be flexible with your time as some restaurants only open at night, some are only open by day. If you work for a catering company you will be working shifts. If you go into corporate catering, you’ll probably work from 9 to 5.

Chefs prepare food in dining establishments. They oversee associated workers and supervise the running of the kitchen, and possible the entire establishments. In a very large establishment, you won’t be involved much with the hands-on work, head chefs will be expected to run the kitchen. Sous chefs would be the top assistant to the head chef, in the absence of an executive chef. Kitchen work is overseen by the sous chef. After this, there may be numerous cooks, line cooks and prep cooks involved in different aspects of preparing the food.

As a chef, you may need to:

  • Create recipes;
  • Create menus;
  • Plan event menus;
  • Follow food and kitchen regulations;
  • Manage the budget;
  • Prepare meals; and
  • Manage the kitchen staff.

Responsibilities will vary, depending on where you work. Head chefs and sous chefs will spend much time overseeing employees and endeavouring to make sure operations run as smoothly as possible. The head chef would be involved more in creative work – creating dishes and menus and helping to organise menus and presentations for specific events. Sous chefs are more preoccupied with daily food preparation and overseeing the kitchen staff.

Besides the creation of quality meals in an speedy manner and a pleasant dining experience, chefs and cooks need to be aware of food safety regulations and ensuring compliancy with the preparation and storage of food.

Remuneration depends on your position and the size of the restaurant. Entry level positions may not pay much, but chefs in well regarded restaurants could earn well.

In training, you’ll also learn how to order inventory, plan menus, gain knife skills and learn about food sanitation.

Besides being efficient in the kitchen and creating enjoyable dining experiences, you’ll need:

  • Physical stamina to deal with being in a warm kitchen for hours;
  • The ability to stay focused;
  • Organisational and multitasking abilities;
  • Leadership skills;
  • A passion for excellence;
  • Good time management;
  • Dexterity with a knife (quickness and accuracy);
  • Teamwork and the ability to remain calm and help staff with problems, overcoming obstacles and assist when they’re busy;
  • Communication skills – whether it be among the stuff, or liaising with customers; and
  • Attention to detail – recipes need to be followed accurately.

You also need to be aware of the work is fast-paced. Injuries, due to cuts, burns and slipping can occur. Night and weekend work is also the norm.