What it Takes to Become a Chef

by : Andy West

You know who you are: you hung out in the kitchen, started cooking almost before you could reach the upper row of kitchen cabinets, and dreamed that you would someday become a chef. But you wonder if your childhood dream career could really be possible. Many people with a passion for the culinary arts successfully find jobs in the cooking industry. You can too, if you have what it takes to become a chef.

A love of food: It takes a special kind of person to work with food all day, every day. If you become a chef, cooking won't just be something you do for yourself and your family. You will do it for dozens, or even hundreds, of people every day. Whether for a special occasion or as a break from their own duties in the kitchen, people are going to look to you for a satisfying meal. If you don't love cooking as much as they love eating, it will be difficult to satisfy your customers, much less yourself.

Natural talent: Having a sixth sense about what to do in the kitchen usually goes hand in hand with a passion for the culinary arts: those who have natural cooking skills tend to enjoy working with food, and vice versa. In any case, although natural talent is not a requirement, being able to combine tastes pleasingly and whip up meals off the top of your head is sure to help you succeed in the field.

A respectable culinary education: Just like any other profession, a good education can do wonders in helping you to become a chef. A degree from a reputable culinary school demonstrates to employers that you not only know your way around a kitchen, you also have specialized training that will qualify you for higher-level jobs. However, the quality of the education you receive will have a significant effect on what you learn and the jobs you are eligible for. To maximize the benefit of your education, ensure that the degree program teaches basic knowledge such as sanitization and nutrition, as well as more specialized skills such as confectionary and different methods of meat preparation.

On-the-job experience. Education isn't always the only way to become a chef, although it certainly helps. Many employers also look for valuable work experience. For example, someone who has worked in the food service industry, but in lower-level positions, may be able to move up in the ranks as they acquire experience. Always be on the lookout for job openings that can add to your rapidly accumulating experience, and actively seek out promotions whenever you see an opportunity.

If you have loved food and cooking since you were a child, if your favorite room in the house is the kitchen, and if creating a culinary work of art is your favorite pastime, a career in the culinary arts may very well be your most cherished dream. Luckily, your dream is not as unattainable as many who love to cook might assume. With the right combination of passion, education, and experience, you can easily become a chef, and for the rest of your life get paid to do what you love.