Call it a chef, culinary professional, food curator or culinary stylist, the profession of cooking is driven by sheer passion, patience and love with a vivid landscape of creativity in the backdrop. A profession that requires an eye for detailing at a micro-level, a career as a chef is meant for the set of personality that seeks joy in what they do and finds happiness in serving others.
An art in itself just like music, painting or writing, cooking also involves mastery over the off-beats along with mainstreams which together curates a masterstroke. Also, if done devotedly, cooking can be a great stress-buster.
People usually commemorate all occasions big or small with good food and the chef or restaurant that they choose are out of great trust for taste, quality and hygiene. This is where the real role of the chef takes surface.
Cooking food in a clean setting with fresh ingredients of good quality along with a fine balance of nutrition is what the chef earns brownie points for.
Similarly, in the context of corporate food services, employers rely on the food servicing companies to serve them the best food in terms of both quality and variety.
Hierarchy followed in a culinary career
There is hierarchy in the career-graph of a chef as listed below:
- Chef-Owner (Group Chef)
- Executive Chef (Chef de Cuisine, Head Chef)
- Sous Chef (Second Chef, Under Chef)
- Senior Chef (Chef de Partie, Station Chef)
Specialisations in a career as a chef
Pastry Chef (Patissier): They are in charge of the dessert section and are way equivalent as a executive chef.
Sauce Chef (Saucier, Saute Chef): Saute’ chef also known as sauce cook in addition to preparing sauces prepares stews.
Fish Chef (Poissonier): Are responsible to prepare all the fish dishes in the kitchen.
Vegetable Chef (Entremetier): Prepare and cook vegetable such as starches, they may also be responsible for preparing soups and eggs.
Meat Chef (Rotisseur, Roast Chef): Prepare and cook meats by roasting, braising, broiling and other methods.
Pantry Chef (Garde Manger): Preparing cold food items like salad, cold cuts dressing etc.
Fry Chef (Friturier): Fry chefs are mostly seen and needed in fast food establishments.
Grill Chef (Grillardin): They specialise in using the grill to prepare hot foods.
Butcher Chef (Boucher): Prepare cuts, meat for other station chefs like an assistant chef.
It is a sub-discipline of food science that seeks detailed investigation in the physical and chemical combination.
Flavoured foam, liquid in the form of spherical capsules etc. are all results of molecular gastronomy.
A programme in molecular gastronomy includes three areas of cooking recognition components such as social, artistic and technical. Chefs explore culinary possibilities by borrowing tools for experimenting in describing tastes and textures.
Chefs and cooks not only prepare food in restaurants and other dining places. They even supervise other culinary workers and oversee the running of the kitchen. Cooks on the other hand have to assist the head/ executive chefs in preparation of food.
Career as a chef: Important points to note
- A career as a chef is an interesting career field as innovation and creativity is a constant while working
- Possibilities and options are endless when you become a chef, which is something that not many other careers can offer
- Not all great chefs have the same personality. Some may be bolder than others, but they always share their passion for food along with a willingness to learn
- Because the industry is so fast-paced, one has to keep learning and grooming to cope with it. The industry is exploring specialised meal plans like Keto diet, theme-based restaurants, etc. which can be explored by budding chefs
Educational qualifications needed to be a chef
The educational path to becoming a chef varies, but many students choose to complete a 2-year or 4-year culinary arts programme.
Undergraduate certificate and degree programmes are the most common for being a chef. In fact, there are MBA programmes in hotel management also.
Courses to become a chef may include nutrition, culinary techniques, butchery, pastry preparation, and regional or specialty cuisine topics.
Gaining hands-on experience in a kitchen or work shadowing a chef is the most useful way to propel your career.
Training is the base for a chef be it training in college or on job training, it helps one realize if they will be able to sustain in the field. The initial stages are very challenging, the long hours, physical demand, and low starting pay can be a difficult pill to swallow.
The title of chef holds an honour of many hours spent honing and refining one’s skills day in and day out. There’s no one thing that makes being a chef a great career option, if you truly love what you do you will be successful.