Then you might have what it takes to be a chef in the ever-growing hospitality industry. Working as a chef requires skills, talent and above all else, creativity. If you want to learn about ingredients, how to show off those impressive knife skills and be able to cook amazing meals, then take a look at our guide below.
What is a chef?
Under the job description for a chef, it involves preparing, cooking and presenting food. The chef career path can take you to pubs, restaurants, cruise ships, hotel restaurants and even the Armed Forces. Chef duties also vary depending on the specific role, the nature of your work and the type of cuisine you produce. The duties of a chef will include working long days, multitasking and being able to work within a fast-paced environment.
There are different chef ranks, including; commis chef (junior), chef de partie, sous chef and head chef. Therefore a head chef job description will differ to a chef at work under the sous chef title. However, the chef career path is a rewarding one and can provide many benefits spanning across your entire career.
What does a chef do?
Now we know the basic job description for a chef, let’s move on to what they do daily. Particular responsibilities come under each rank. Becoming a chef in the UK can see individuals start at the bottom of the ladder, or as an apprentice or trainee chef.
Typically, a chef salary in the UK for commis chefs ranges between £12,000 and £16,000.
A commis chef can work within the industry while studying the qualifications needed to be a chef. A chef job description sample - at trainee level - will allow you to learn chef skills like knife skills, basic cuts, and how to handle ingredients correctly. You’ll work in different areas of the kitchen and help the chef de partie, as well as be responsible for food preparation and basic cooking.
Chefs looking for employment as a section chef, or a chef de partie, will find themselves prepping, cooking and assembling dishes, be in charge of a particular section of the kitchen and assist the sous chef or head chef.
Those who have acquired qualifications for a chef, may find themselves in sous chef roles after gaining experience. This role is second-in-command and will oversee the day-to-day running, as well as undertake inventory and ordering food. They tend to train others and have an input into the menu design.
Lastly, we have the head chef, also known as a chef de cuisine or an executive chef. Head chef responsibilities involve; creating a vision for the cuisine, quality control, tasting dishes, recruiting, motivating staff and managing the kitchen budget.
A head chef may spend less time cooking than the other chef roles. In most cases chef requirements include working through the ranks and gaining experience. At head chef level you’ll most likely obtain most of the skills needed to be a chef after working at each level.
Now you know the various chef roles, you can look into what qualifications do you need to be a chef to start your career within the food industry.
How to become a chef in the UK?
Are you thinking ‘what qualifications do I need to be a chef?’ There are many qualifications to be a chef which you can take, although anyone seeking to join the culinary career should know that having a degree is not a requirement.
Although, an HND, foundation degree or a degree in culinary arts or professional cookery may help you learn skills for chefs and gain knowledge. Many degree programmes include a placement, where you work in a professional kitchen, and it offers valuable and practical industry experience.
If you’re hoping to acquire chef qualifications in the UK, you can try a graduate scheme to gain an insight into the industry. Individuals can broaden their perspective and learn about nutrition and food development. It's important to note that in these schemes it isn’t common to work as a chef. But if it is something you’re interested in, many schemes consider applicants with a 2:1 degree and above from a range of subjects, like professional cookery or culinary arts.
Head chef qualifications are not common and usually come through experience, working through the chef ranks and gaining knowledge within kitchens. To help you achieve the top rank you can study budgeting, management, menus and networking, which are desirable skills for a head chef.
Under the job description for a chef, it involves preparing, cooking and presenting food.
What skills are useful for chefs?
First and foremost, knowledge of cooking technicals, storing and serving food and knowing how to cook is essential if you’ve never boiled an egg before you may need some more practice! Technical skills, understanding of health and safety and food hygiene are crucial no matter where you work. Excellent communication, organisational and timemanagement skills are critical, as you’ll be working in a busy, fast-paced environment with other people.
Interpersonal skills and being able to work alone and within a team is also important, as a kitchen can quickly become chaos if one cog in the machine isn’t performing correctly. A chef should bee flexible, self-motivated, willing to learn and committed to the role. Someone with a hard-working manner, calm approach and high standards will do well in the career.
It’s all about the finer and smaller things inlife, so attention to detail is beneficial too. Chefs should have the ability to follow directions, take on board instructions and delegate to others. Also, trustworthiness, loyalty and a calm nature in stressful situations is essential.
How much do chefs make in the UK?
Now, how much does a chef earn? Typically, a chef salary in the UK for commis chefs ranges between £12,000 and £16,000. A sous chef salary in the UK, who are more experienced chefs, can earn between £20,000 and £30,000. But, how much do chefs earn if they are higher? The cook salary in the UK for head chefs can expect £25,000 but this can reach £55,000 or more, depending on the restaurant and location.
Salaries differ on the setting and region, with a sous chef in a Michelin-starred restaurant most likely receiving higher wages than someone in contract catering in the same position. As salaries vary, so do chef working hours, as there may be some days you work long hours or cater to special events.
Whilst working as a chef you will learn about hygiene, health and safety, and follow food regulations. Chef jobs require individuals to work within a fast-paced environment and to be on their feet for long periods of time. However, the chef experience you gain while working as part of a successful team is worthwhile.
A degree in culinary arts or professional cookery may help you learn skills for chefs and gain knowledge.
Can you work as a chef remotely?
This is a role that cannot be done remotely. You’ll need to be in the kitchen, hotel, restaurant or building while prepping, cooking and cleaning up. If you are working as one of the higher ranks and managing a kitchen, you may be able to complete staff rotas, keep an eye on budgets and order stock from home, but the majority of the job will be on-site.
What are the prospects for a chef?
Where to find chef jobs? Now you know the job description of a chef, the chef levels and how chef careers can be achieved, the next step is to look for chef job vacancy positions. You can try looking through ‘chef needed’ or ‘chefs available for work’ adverts on job sites, local restaurants or online. You may have to travel to access opportunities, at built up areas like urban towns and cities.
After working as a chef for some time you can work through the chef ranks, study alongside working to gain knowledge about diet and nutrition, or you could train as a cookery teacher, food technology teacher, or work in a college. Becoming a head chef takes significant knowledge of leadership, budgeting and food, and takes a lot of commitment.
However, the chef career can take you to similar roles within the food industry, like food or product development, restaurant manager, chef manager, food writer, restaurant owner or food and beverage director.