By now you must be clear between the two most common terms “chef” and “cook” used when we talk about cooking. The difference between the two lies in education and experiences, says Thomas N Salzano, a renowned chef. If you have a culinary degree or you have a training experience under a notable chef or have moved up the ranks, you will be typically considered a chef.
Yes, it’s true that the term “Chef” is professional and respectful which you have to earn with education, practice, and hard work. Further, there are many branches to this profession like you can opt for becoming a personal chef, hotel chef, restaurant chef or a private chef for a corporate client.
You might have come across restaurants that are managed and owned by the chefs. Whereas on the other hand in big kitchens, restaurants, hotels and other professional food organizations you will see the head chefs taking the primary management responsibilities, from menu planning to inventory control and supervision of the staff.
Now let’s talk about the requirements to become a Chef shared by Thomas and make your career bright:
Many aspiring chefs start their careers with culinary art programs that give them the foundation of training that is needed to start cooking for customers. Although there is no specific degree that you need to start cooking, it’s just that now as the opportunities are increasing as a chef there are many new programs and competitions introduced that add brownie points to your profession.
Professionalism comes when you work under experienced chefs and start with assistance and learning basic skills like mastering knife skills and different kinds of cooking techniques. It is suggested that even if you have opted for culinary arts or science programs you should prefer working as a sous chef before becoming a head chef.
Certification or Licensure requirements
There are many voluntary certifications that chefs can pursue to set some standards as these certificates are proof of their professionalism and talent. Although there is no licensure requirement to work as a chef, make sure the restaurant or hotel or any kitchen that you’re working at should be licensed.
Like any other profession, you need to gain experience to rise through the ranks of a sous chef to a head chef or to any better position than the basic one. Working with a big kitchen might help you here as the experience counts and so does your specialty. So never miss a chance to work with professional chefs, work on your specialty and display your talent on different platforms.
There is no age limit to become a cook as anyone can start cooking at an early age. But there are some working standards set by the authorities that are strictly followed. The minimum age limit is set as 18 years of age and the maximum age limit depends on the restaurant or the kitchen management you are working with. Especially those who own a restaurant will work as a chef until their maximum capacity. But the standard maximum working age is from 60-65 years.
Now let’s talk about the qualities of a Chef Share by Thomas:
Managing a kitchen is not an easy job. You need to handle different things at the same time and use the kitchen equipment safely. You need to cook, work on dish presentation, keep cleanliness and at the same time manage your team. This means you need to keep an eye on several tasks at the same time so multitasking qualities are required.
Being a head chef is not limited to cooking you need to do much more than that. You need to lead the entire team, plan the budget for food, plan the ingredient requirement on a daily basis, schedule shifts and manage the busiest days in the kitchen with your smart management. To achieve all this you need to have organizational skills.
Patience and Positive attitude towards accepting Criticism
This profession needs patience as you get daily remarks on the food that you have served. At the time things go wrong in the kitchen or maybe the customer does not like the food or sometimes you or your teammate makes a mistake while cooking leads to negative remarks from management and the customer. You need to have the patience to listen to what the complaint is and keep a positive attitude to learn for your mistakes.
Ability to Handle High Stress
The kitchen is a busy place and is an incredibly stressful job. High temperature, so many chefs running from one desk to another, dozens of things going at any one time and the time restrictions make the job stressful. You need to have the ability to handle high stress and work in such stressful conditions.
There are situations where you need to work for long shifts and the timing is also fluctuating. You need to have good stamina to deal with such long working hours.
This quality is a must in chefs. You need to learn and explore your cooking skills. Coming up with new recipes and better presentations is expected from the chefs. So creativity is important and so is the curiosity and desire to learn more.
Cooking is one of the best professions that gives joy and opportunity to polish your basic kitchen skills to become a professional chef, says Thomas Salzano. All the aspiring chefs so feel proud about their choice of becoming a chef as there are millions of opportunities waiting for you in this career. All you need is the willingness to do better each day and keep your creativity alive.