Career as a Chef
What is it that makes you go back to that one restaurant again and again? It's the scrumptious food on their menu, of course! As a Chef, setting the food menu is just one aspect of the job. One has to be involved in the preparation of food, ensuring the restaurant/pub/bakery kitchen is stocked with the necessary ingredients, manage an entire kitchen staff and encourage them to work efficiently without compromising on food quality.
While this may sound an interesting career path, it takes a lot of training and a great deal of professional experience to become a Chef at a hotel or a restaurant. In addition, strong interpersonal and leadership skills are some of the qualities that one requires to become a successful Chef.
From what we've seen in recent times, some of the popular Chefs in India have evolved into glamourous personalities who are travelling across the globe and putting our country on the world map. In fact, many of these celebrity chefs are running their own restaurants and hosting their own shows on television.
If this seems an exciting career option to you, then you may go through our following guide on career as a Chef.
Eligibility to become Chef
To pursue a career as a chef, obtaining a degree in the related field is a must. If you pursue a degree in hotel management and catering technology from a reputed institution, then it will certainly increase your chances of getting better placements. An individual interested in this career option can also take up diploma and certificate courses offered by various institutes across the country. All such hotel management institutes focus on bringing the best out of every student and impart the right skills and knowledge to make them industry-ready.
While the educational path to become a chef may be different for each one of you, aspirants usually take up two-year or four-year Culinary degree courses. Apprenticeships are also available to help students get the necessary training.
As part of the training process, chefs learn to operate a business, which may involve maintenance of kitchen inventory, purchasing kitchen supplies and account management. While training is an integral part in this career, a trained and professional chef must exhibit strong leadership and interpersonal skills.
Types of Job Roles Chef
There are various types of chef related positions in both private and commercial sectors. In a restaurant or a dining establishment, there is usually a hierarchy comprising of positions such as an executive chef, sous chef or line chef. On the other hand, individuals interested in this profession could also choose to work for small, specialised customer base by becoming personal chefs.
Given below are some chef-related positions:
Executive Chefs or Head Cooks look after the operation of a kitchen. They align themselves with sous chefs and other cooks who are responsible for the preparation of most of the meals. They also provide training to cooks and other workers involved in food preparation. Apart from performing these functions in the kitchen, the executive chefs or head cooks also design the menu, review food and beverage purchases. In addition, there are some head chefs who don't spend too much time in the kitchen and focus primarily on administrative tasks.
Sous Chefs are basically second-in-command after the executive or head chefs. They are responsible for supervising the cooks working for the restaurant. They are also involved in preparing meals, and their reporting is usually to the head chefs. Sous chefs also run the kitchen in the absence of the head chef.
Another type is a Private Chef who typically works for one client full-time. A private chef may work for a household, corporate groups, president, or a diplomat.
Apart from these chef-related job roles, you can also pursue any of the following roles after getting some years of work experience.
Cookbook Writer – Being a recipe book writer means writing to provide valuable recipes and tips to cooks and other individuals.
Cookery Show Host – Hosting cookery shows are fun and interesting and get a lot of attention from viewers. These shows can give you celebrity status.
Event Caterer – Being in this lucrative business means you can work on events such as weddings, parties, business functions, cocktail receptions, gallery openings.
Cuisine Ship Caterer/ Railways/ Airlines Caterer – Requires a person to provide catering services to feed passengers onboard.
Restaurant/ Pub Manager – Apart from taking care of the kitchen, one can expand his/her profile by overseeing day-to-day operations of restaurants and hotel chains.
Food Critics/ Writers/ Journalists – Requires an experienced culinary professional to work for magazines or news organisations and keep people informed about the popular food joints.
Consultant – With years of experience, one can become a consultant and work with restaurants to design their menu and also contribute in improving the restaurant ambience.
Employment Opportunities for a Chef
The hotel and restaurant business is growing by leaps and bounds every year. Today, you will find restaurants (big or small), bakeries, hotels and private clubs in every nook and corner of your city. With increasing choices, there has also been a huge surge in the demand for people with expertise in cooking.
Culinary professionals can find jobs in conventional restaurants and hotel dining facilities. They are also required in a variety of other settings – whether they are private or public. Basically, there are plenty of opportunities for such individuals in the food business.
Being a chef could open many avenues in the following areas:
- Food Manufacturing
- Food Processing Companies
- Cruise liners
- Catering in Confectionaries
- Corporate Catering
An individual can also choose to provide catering or work in canteens of colleges, universities, and private schools. Pursuing a formal education in this field opens another option of working as a faculty member in private or government institutions that offer hotel management courses.
Pay Scale/Salary of Chef
The salary that an individual withdraws in this sector depends on various aspects such as confidence, experience, specialisation, personal skills and the place where he/she works. While newcomers can take home a salary of Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000 per month, those with around 10 years of work experience can expect to fetch somewhere between Rs.40,000 and Rs.50,000. Head chefs or executive chefs can earn somewhere around Rs.1 to Rs.2 lakhs every month.
If you're working in a five-star hotel, the salary could be higher. You can also work in bars and night clubs, or you could become an entrepreneur and open your own food service store or a chain of hotels.
Annual Salary Package
1,80,000 to 3,00,000
6,00,000 to 9,00,000
12,00,000 to 24,00,000
Note: The salary provided in this table is indicative only and may be different for every individual.
Top Recruiting Companies for a Chef
Employability is usually one of the biggest concerns when students start out to pursue this course. However, the hospitality industry and the traditional food businesses have opened a gamut of options that an individual will never have the need to look back in life.
- ITC Hotels
- Oberoi Sheraton
- Taj Group
- Vivanta by Taj
Pros of becoming a Chef
- Excellent Salary Package
- Creative Satisfaction
- Freedom to experiment and innovate
- Popularity can get you celebrity status
- Can start own food business
- Can focus on any specialisation in the food business
Cons of becoming a Chef
- Working hours can be longer than usual
- Demand during festivals increases so you may have to work
- Not a desk job, demands physical labour
- Need to keep quality check always
- Kitchens can be suffocating so it could affect your health