Many people who love to cook or bake turn their hobbies into careers in the culinary industry. Some do this from home and others seek out employment in restaurants and hotels. There are many ways to become a chef. One way is to start at the bottom and work your way through the ranks in the kitchen. Another option is to attend a culinary school such as Prue Leith in Gauteng and obtain a formal qualification which will enable you to apply for many chef jobs!
Being a chef is a notoriously high pressure job, because a chef is constantly under pressure to deliver food fast but, simultaneously, without sacrificing the quality and flavour throughout the cooking and preparation process. The job entails long hours standing on your feet, and enduring cuts and burns whilst cooking. Then, added to that, there is also a lot of heavy lifting of pots, pans and boxes of ingredients as well as the constant noise from the kitchen. In addition to this there is also the heat, smoke and fumes from the stoves and ovens – these are just a few of the more difficult and exhausting aspects of being a chef! In addition to this you will find yourself working long hours on evenings, weekends and holidays, and almost any time when the rest of the world is not working.
If, however, you are passionate about being a chef, you will find great pleasure in these challenges. When you do finally make a name for yourself and become a head chef, your job will come with the benefits of the elevated position. You may not have to do the heavy lifting, but your responsibilities will increase significantly. Executive chefs, or head chefs, are in charge of coordinating the work of the kitchen staff, controlling food cost, determining portion sizes, planning menus, ordering supplies, ensuring quality and presentation of food is correct, scheduling staff, training the cooks on public health regulations and how to store all products in order to control waste. These are all part of the everyday chores that come with being a chef!
Job prospects are endless as just about every restaurant in every country around the world has a chef that works in and supervises the kitchen. Some chefs work on cruise ships and can enjoy traveling to different places while on the job, while others find employment at food service establishments in foreign countries. Chefs can find available jobs nearly anywhere, and can enjoy long-term employment once they find that perfect job that matches their skills and interests.
Being a chef has many advantages over the more standard nine to five job. For one, you’ll never be bored! There is always something going on in the kitchen and you will always be trying to outdo yourself and cook the most memorable meal possible for each of your patrons. Add to that the satisfaction that comes from receiving a compliment from of your customers and the sprinkle of contentment that comes with a hard job well done at the end of the night.
Working with a close knit team in a kitchen comes with the added companionship of cooking alongside other equally passionate and capable people in the kitchen. Then there is the matter of applying your creativity to your career on a daily basis. The work is a never ending journey, with the possibility of a life of learning and prospects of advancement. Add to that the additional benefit of starting your own restaurant or catering business and become self-employed.
Being a good chef can be a dream come true for the food lover. Take all of this into consideration and you have all the ingredients for a successful and satisfying career.
Salary ranges differ widely for chefs depending on the level and type of chef. Well-known Executive Chefs for 5-star hotels and first-class restaurants can earn an annual income that approaches or exceeds the six digits. A few handfuls turn into millionaires by becoming celebrities and operating several restaurants bearing their names, while others start their own cookware and utensil lines, write cookbooks, judge cooking events and work as regular magazine contributors. They turn their passion into a lucrative business once they make it to the limelight. Many chefs turn to publishing and TV and earn royalties from books and additional income from show appearances.
Even though not everyone can be a celebrity chef, the income that a chef brings in is competitive with most average occupations. Chef’s jobs and potential salaries are limited only by the aspirations and abilities of the individuals. So, if this is your dream, be sure to enter our culinary arts programme as this will surely be the first step to a happy and successful career!