Amita Vadlamudi - Computer Systems Engineer

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Amita Vadlamudi's Blog

Journey to Being a Chef

on 12 Nov 2022 19:16 | Viewed 2239 times

The rapid rise of the food service industry has made becoming a chef a lucrative career opportunity. There are more than 145,115 chefs in the U.S., with an average median annual salary of $ 56,920. However, the exact wage may vary depending on the experience and locality of the restaurant/hotel.

How to Become a Chef?

Typically, formal education isn’t required to become a chef, but most jobs would need a high-school diploma or an equivalent. With increasing competition in the field, credentials in the food industry can help, supplemented with industry certifications. Applicants from culinary schools may be preferred after they have acquired a diploma in culinary arts. Cooking, knife, and plating skills come in handy.

Experience is an invaluable tool for becoming a chef. There is no better preparation than working in a professional kitchen through apprenticeships and externships. After this, you may apply for an entry-level position like a line cook, prep cook, or other kitchen staff. With on-the-job experience, you will level up in the kitchen hierarchy to become a chef.

The time it takes for you to become a chef at a top-notch restaurant will depend on the steps you take to become a chef. A culinary degree and certifications will expedite the journey, but you’d need 1-4 years to complete this program and at least 3-5 years of professional experience.

Job Description

A chef is in charge of the kitchen in a restaurant, hotel, or another place where food is served. A chef is responsible for planning the menu, preparing the food, supervising the staff, ordering and buying food supplies, and ensuring the food's quality through proper garnishing and presentation.

Ideally, chefs should also have some knowledge of customer service to achieve and maintain a high standard of customer satisfaction. They also foster a collaborative work environment in the kitchen to create an enjoyable dining experience for guests.

Chefs and cooks differ in their roles. Cooks typically work under the direction of chefs, and do not decide the menu or the way to prepare the food. That is the chef’s domain.

Work-Life Balance

Among the most fulfilling careers in the U.S., chefs top the chart with an 84% job satisfaction rate. Chefs often work 60 hours a week, early morning, late evening, and even on holidays. The hectic and fast-paced work environment makes this a demanding job. Still, a work-life balance can be achieved with an increased delegation in the kitchen, relinquishing some degree of control to the sous chef, and doing away with unnecessary tasks that prolong the time spent in the kitchen.

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