- Requires knowledge of food and food production methods, leadership skills and creativity
- With experience, option to progress to section chef, sous chef, and then head chef
- Chefs often work long hours, but there's a strong teamwork element in a busy kitchen
As a chef, you can work in restaurants, pubs, hotel restaurants, cruise ships, the Armed Forces and in contract catering. Responsibilities and job titles can vary depending on your specific role, the type of cuisine you produce and the nature of where you work.
- Prepare attractive menus to nutritional standard
- Control and order stock and inspect it on delivery
- Gut and prepare animals and fish for cooking
- Scrape and wash large quantities of vegetables and salads
- Cook and present food creatively
- Monitor production to maintain quality and consistent portion sizes
- Work under pressure to make sure food is served on time
- Keep to hygiene, health and safety and licensing rules
You could work at a restaurant, in an NHS or private hospital, at a school, at a college or on a cruise ship. Your working day may start in the early morning or continue to late at night. You may work weekends and public holidays. You could get seasonal work. Kitchens are hot, humid and busy around meal times. You'll wear chef whites and a hat.
This role is ideal for food lovers, someone that has good knowledge of food and food production methods, leadership skills and creativity.
One way into the job is to take a college course, like a T Level in Catering, Level 3 Diploma in Professional Cookery or Level 4 Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts. You'll usually need 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for a level 3 course and 1 or 2 A levels, a level 3 diploma or relevant experience for a level 4 or level 5 course.
You could also study for a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in culinary arts or professional cookery.
You can learn while you work by doing an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship as a chef or alternatively you could start work as a kitchen assistant or trainee 'commis' chef and work your way up while learning on the job.
You can also train to be a chef through an armed forces apprenticeship.
You'll usually start as a kitchen assistant or trainee chef (commis chef). With experience, you could progress to section chef (station chef) and look after an area like desserts. The next step is sous chef, running an entire kitchen when the head chef is busy.
As head chef (also known as executive chef and chef de cuisine), you'll run a kitchen, create menus and manage the budget. You could move into the business side by taking a foundation degree or degree in hospitality management. Very large establishments have executive chefs, usually in charge of multiple outlets. This is a management role and you would do very little cooking.
Another option is to train as a teacher or assessor working for a college or training provider.