10 Things to Consider Before Becoming a Chef
If you have talent in cooking, there’s no doubt you should consider a serious career for yourself as a chef. As you move up in the workplace, you can go from being a regular chef to eventually a head chef, which comes with its own set of benefits. Every chef has a certain amount of skills and skill set, which they have to harness in order to suit the particular restaurant they are working in. If you own a restaurant and want to hire chefs, here is a great post to read about top chef staffing agency
Here are the top ten things to consider before you want to start your career as a chef:
- Long Hours
Being in the kitchen is an extremely time-taking situation. If you are hoping to get free time on weekends, you certainly won’t get it because the weekends are the busiest times of the week for the restaurants. It is as if when everyone is working, that would be when you get your free time. And, this fact is not going to be changing with time – whether you’re a brand chef, casual chef, or even a restaurant owner! The kitchen will always require your patience, knowledge, and most importantly, time.
- The Pay Would be Less When you Start Out
The pay isn’t really great as a chef when you’re starting in that field. As you move up the ladder, the pay will certainly increase. But when you’re starting out, you do have to work long hours and get paid around $10 an hour and after you sort out your living expenses, rent, and culinary school loan payments, there isn’t much that you get in hand. When you gain more experience, you will earn more. So, for you to be a good chef throughout your career, you need to constantly keep studying and learning, which brings us to your next point.
- Studying Never Finishes
Cooking is a field that is ever-evolving. There are new trends coming up, new cuisines that people take interest in, new ingredients to add, etc. So whether you are a beginner or an experienced chef, your knowledge should only be increasing as you spend more time as a chef. You need to always improve your skillset with new cooking methods and techniques.
- Many will Underestimate Your Process
You will need to brace yourself for the customers who don’t understand your process and often underestimate it. Visitors often tend to lose their patience, which may also make the restaurant owner create a sense of urgency for you to do your work faster. You will need to cook all day long and spend many hours getting preparations ready for the next day too. However, customers can often think that cooking is just a five-minute affair and won’t really keep in mind the time you need for preparation.
- Long Term Career Goals do Change
You may want to join as a chef in a restaurant because you like cooking, or for the money, or even because you want to open your own restaurant someday and want to gain the kitchen experience before you do. Once you do get started and get working, your plans are susceptible to change. You can change your mind about opening your restaurant if you get negatively affected by the work and planning that goes behind it or you can enter just as a regular chef, enjoy your time and end up wanting more. So your aims and ambitions are going to be different a few years from now and therefore you do need to keep your life in balance and keep improving your plus points as a chef.
- Culinary School Education Gives You an Upper Hand
Although experience as a chef will always improve your skills more, a culinary school degree does give you an upper hand, especially while competing with chefs that have nearly the same experience as you. Formal education, just like in all other career fields is generally considered a factor and opens many doors for you. However, in a field like cooking, it isn’t much help if you don’t have a skill set. So, to succeed as a good chef, you need both a degree and experience.
- It is a Male-Dominated Job
Even though conventionally, women have cooked in a household, commercially there are more men in a restaurant kitchen as chefs. As a chef, you have to withstand long hours, the physical draining, and mental stress that comes with running a kitchen. And for some women, the reservations that come with being surrounded by men are added to the list too.
- Where You Work Affects Your Experience
You will find a variety of jobs in the food service industry. You can be a caterer, restaurant owner, personal chef, or even a food stylist. You could be working at banquets, or at catered events, at fine dining restaurants, or at country clubs. All of these types of jobs and places where you work are different than each other and will affect the experience you have as a chef there. All kinds of work in this industry have their pros and cons.
- Your Job Goes Beyond Cooking
You will have to create the menu, decide the specials, be constantly developing, be in charge of staffing, etc. You can use a little help here though and see this great post to read about top chef staffing agency
- Visitor Experience Matters…. To an Extent
It is true that customers are the foremost check for you to decide which dish of you works well and which doesn’t. But, you shouldn’t just wholly rely on customers’ tastes. At last, you have to be different from those restaurants who decide their money just based on what people mostly eat there. You need to craft your own menu and make it unique, so make sure you fill it with dishes that are more than just what a customer will demand or like.
Becoming and working as a chef takes more than just skill in cooking. You do have to consider a lot of factors. Some would matter to you and some won’t. But make sure you do your due research before entering this field.
Sunny Chawla is a Managing Director at Alliance International. He specializes in helping client for international recruiting, staffing, HR services and Careers advice service for overseas and international businesses.