What Does a Chef’s Job Entail?

What does a chef’s job entail? The less informed may answer that this person merely cooks for a living, but there is far more to being a chef than just preparing food. It is a multi-faceted profession and while the chef probably does cook, this function is sometimes left to the sous (under) chef in large kitchens.

What a chef’s job does entail is the overall management and control of the kitchen and everyone and everything within it. A chef’s approach to food is creative, realising that their dishes not only provide fuel for the body in order to sustain life, but that diners firstly eat with their eyes before they actually taste and ingest anything.

Visual appeal is very important, involving how food is plated and arranged, ideally displaying different textures and colours. A professional chef is an artist and the plate is the canvas. However, once the visual appeal has been established, taste, flavours, combinations and textures within the mouth become paramount.

These aspects imply that the different foodstuffs on the plate should not be over or undercooked, retaining their natural colour and consistency, in anticipation of the next bite. Flavours are achieved by the item’s natural taste combined with ingredients that enhance the experience, without one ingredient dominating another.

Subtleties which tickle the taste buds and tempt the palate are also an art form. Seasoning dishes to their best advantage requires theoretical and practical knowledge of ingredients’ properties, how they perform when heated, chilled or combined with numerous others.

No matter how talented one may be or how many people have declared that their cooking abilities are astounding, this art form known as professional cooking can be learnt and honed by professional training and a recognised qualification. The days are long gone when professional chefs where just people who had a knack for tasty cooking.

Skills that come into play in chef’s jobs include having a sensitive palate in order to identify best flavours, using the senses of smell and taste. Without this, the chef would have no idea of whether flavours and combinations work or not.

Creativity allows for experimentation and putting one’s own signature on a dish or traditional recipe. It also inspires innovation. Commitment and perseverance are another part of the chef’s job. These people work hard for long, irregular hours and usually on weekends, sometimes public holidays too. Without commitment and passion, this would prove too much.

People and effective management skills are essential in a kitchen, a very busy place where space is often at a premium. Getting the best productivity and cohesion out of a group of people who are all under pressure, is not easy.

Effective planning and organisation holds the key to having a kitchen which runs smoothly, where each person knows what is expected of them and when and why. All elements on a plate of food must be in place at the correct time and all meals for each table need to go out to be served simultaneously, irrespective of their contents.

Primary Elements of the Chef’s Job

  • Menu planning
  • Preparing food
  • Hiring staff
  • Managing staff
  • Mentoring kitchen personnel
  • Budgeting and financial management
  • Buying and establishing business relationships with vendors
  • Marketing
  • Taking charge of customer relations, dealing with complaints (hopefully there are none or very few)

Much of today’s methodologies used in kitchens is based on classic French techniques. Consequently, many terms officially in use internationally are also of French origin. “Chef” means “chief” in the French and indeed, the executive chef or the chef de cuisine is never addressed by name in his domain, the kitchen. He/she is simply “Chef”.

If this is who you want to be, you need a qualification to accomplish everything to do with what a chef’s job entails and that is why our academy exists – to share our passion with learners so that they are equipped to build their own careers and future.