A Guide on How to Become a Chef – Different Options and Pathways

/ / A Guide on How to Become a Chef – Different Options and Pathways

The UK is awash with hospitality jobs, but it is no secret that the catering industry is a competitive one with an extremely high turnover. The hospitality industry makes up for 1% of the UK’s economy,  In 2015, it was estimated that the hospitality and catering industry provided over 2.8 million jobs throughout the UK, suggesting that this is a great source of economic growth.

Embarking on a career as a chef requires excellent time management, the ability to work under pressure and endurance. A career in hospitality will be an incredibly testing one, but is an excellent choice if you have the confidence, stamina and enthusiasm required to succeed.

When you train as a chef, you will find that your career progresses with the more experience you get. A kitchen is a hot, humid and psychically demanding environment to work in, where you will spend 40-45 hours a week – but if you have the passion and dedication you will soon work your way up. The average salary for a trainee chef starts at £13,000 and a highly experienced chef can expect to earn up to £50,000.

What is part of a Chef’s Job Role?

As the hospitality industry is so diverse, you have opportunities to work in different venues. From NHS hospitals to restaurants, hotels, schools, pubs or cruise ships, the options are endless. Depending on the venue you are working in, your day to day tasks will vary, but you could be required to do the following;

  • Prepare menus adhering to nutritional standards,
  • Maintaining stock levels and replenishing them,
  • Gutting and preparing fish and meat,
  • Preparing vegetables,
  • Maintaining production and quality on all dishes,
  • Adhering to health and safety, hygiene and licensing rules,
  • Keeping up to date with paperwork and audits.

How do I Become a Chef?

There are no set requirements when it comes to having a chef career, but English and Maths GCSEs are preferred. Gaining experience is the best way to secure a chef position or catering job.

You can get experience by;

  • On the job training
  • An apprenticeship
  • A full-time college course in either;
    • Chef Cookery,
    • Kitchen Training,
    • Hospitality and Culinary Arts,
    • Hospital and Catering.

The roles you can start on

A dishwasher is responsible for washing dishes and cutlery, and requires no training.

Kitchen Porter 
Kitchen Porters assist with rudimentary tasks within the kitchen. The majority of Kitchen Porters do not have any formal culinary training, but can often work their way up. Kitchen Porter tasks include basic food preparation and basic cleaning duties.

Commis Chef 
A Commis Chef is a junior chef who works under the Chef de Partie to learn the ins and outs of the kitchen. A Commis Chef may have recently completed, or may still be undertaking formal culinary training.

What Type of Chefs are there?

Junior Chef – Demi Chef

A Demi Chef is actively involved in the day to day runnings of the kitchen, and works under a Sous Chef. Demi Chefs will take orders from the Chef de Partie, Executive Chef and Head Chef. In some cases, you will fill in for the Chef de Partie.

Second Chef – Sous Chef 
Translated, ‘sous chef’ literally means ‘under chef’. A  Sous Chef is actively involved in the day to day runnings of the kitchen, and will take orders from the Chef de Partie, Executive Chef and Head Chef. In some cases, you will fill in for the Chef de Partie and Head Chef. Smaller kitchens may not have a Sous Chef, where as larger kitchens may have many.

Station Chef/ Line Chef/ Line Cook – Chef de Partie 
If you are a Chef de Partie you have a vital role in the kitchen & will be responsible for running a specific part of the kitchen, of which you may specialise in. If you are in a small kitchen, you may be the only chef in that section. If it is a bigger kitchen you will be responsible for running a team.

Head Chef – Chef de Cuisine
The term ‘Chef de Cuisine’ is a title that is used prevalently around the world. The Executive Chef is in charge of the whole kitchen, from managing kitchen staff to monitoring kitchen costs, liaising with suppliers and writing the menus. Depending on the venue, the head chef often delegates the day-to-day running of the kitchen to individuals lower down the hierarchy, such as the sous chef.

Executive Chef –  Group Chef
The Group  Chef is at the top of the kitchen management structure. Only large establishments have an executive chef which is primarily a management role. Unfortunately executive chefs are often responsible for the operation of multiple outlets, and giving them very little time to cook.

What Chef Specialisms are There?

When training to be a chef, you may want to work across a range of sections in the kitchen, or specialise in one particular segment. The specialisms are as follows;

Butcher Chef – Boucher
The Butcher Chef is in charge of preparing the meats and poultry before they are taken to their stations. The butcher also knows how to handle fish and seafood preparations.

Fish Chef – Poissonier
The Fish Chef is an expert when it comes to the preparation of fish dishes and is responsible for the butchering of fish, as well as food pairings and creating the sauces to go with it.

Fry Chef – Friturier
The Fry Chef specialises in the preparation of food that will be fried.

Grill Chef – Grillardin
The Grill Chef is an expert in preparing all foods that require grilling.

Pantry Chef – Garde Manger
The Pantry Chef is charge of  preparing the cold dishes, such as salads and pâtés.

Pastry Chef – Patissier
The Pastry Chef is in charge of the pastry section; from baked goods, pastries and desserts, it is all up to the Pastry Chef.

Roast Chef – Rotisseur
The Roast Chef specialises in the preparation of roasted meats and  sauces.

Roundsman – Chef de Tournant
The Roundsman fills in the gaps in any station, having experience in all fields.

Sauce Chef – Sauté chef
The Sauce Chef reports directly to the Head Chef or Sous-Chef. A Sauce Chef is responsible for sautéing foods, and creating the sauces and gravies that will accompany other dishes.

Vegetable Chef – Entremetier
The Vegetable Chef prepares the vegetables, soups, starches, and eggs. A potager is in charge of making soups, and a legumier

To have a career in any of these roles, you should try and get experience in all fields and then work your way up. Studying and practice is the best way to further your experience and ‘earn’ your desired job title!

Are you interested in being a chef?
Talent Hive recruit for some of the best venues across UK, Click here to view our latest Chef opportunities