How to become a chef
By: Todor Madzharov
Reading time: 3 min

The glut of cookery shows and competitions on TV has made the industry a firm favourite across the world, but as each one proves in one way or another, this high-stakes environment requires an incredible knowledge of food, methods of preparation, and a wide skill set.

Still, it’s an industry in dire need of new talent. While approximately quarter of a million people work as chefs at one level or another in the UK, restaurateurs have claimed there is a “dire shortage” of staff willing to take on such jobs.

But with a foodie revolution continuing to grip Britain, do you think you can take the heat and get in the kitchen? If you’re hoping to make a name for yourself at the other side of the pass, then here’s everything you need to know to get yourself into the world of professional cuisine.

Job basics

  • Entry salary: Around £13,000pa (as a commis chef)
  • Experienced salary: £30,000+pa (at sous chef level)
  • Average hours: 30-40 (full-time); 10-20 (part-time)

What do they do?

  • Prepare and cook food to strict hygiene rules
  • Manage a kitchen’s resources, from ovens and hobs to crockery and cutlery
  • Carefully manage and control food stock, and portion sizes
  • Work to constant deadlines to deliver food promptly

What qualities should I have?

If you’re going to be a chef, you need to be confident, hard-working and ambitious. Obviously, we’d recommend you have these qualities for any role you take on, but the world of cooking is one that really demands drive.

Although most jobs require a degree of teamwork, it is more important than ever in a kitchen, where often high-pressure environments combine with careful planning, ensuring people get what they want, when they want, and adhering to any particular requests (e.g. intolerances and allergies, rareness of meat, etc). A degree of extroversion is important, as communication with staff at the front of house and kitchens is constant.

Finally, you need to be good with your hands, an excellent timekeeper, and able to cope with stress – a level head goes further here than in most other jobs on the market.

How do I become qualified?

Like many jobs at entry level (known as “commis chef” roles), you don’t have to get a degree or equivalent accreditation – admittedly, it makes it a lot easier to get your foot in the door, but it’s not a bottom-line requirement. Still, there are a number of industry-recognised qualifications available, including diplomas or certificates with names such as:

  • Professional cookery
  • Hospitality and catering
  • Culinary skills/arts
  • Food preparation and service

Pairing the above with work experience in kitchens, restaurants and bars will also give you a better idea of the skills you need to make yourself appealing to prospective employers – while an all-out apprenticeship may kill two birds with one stone.

We’ve got jobs for you

Do you want to bring home the bacon with a career as a chef? Use your noodle and check out JOB TODAY’s chef job listings in the world of cuisine by downloading our iOS or Android app!