How do I get started as a chef?

Becoming a chef- what you need to know

Anyone who loves cooking at home has probably thought about becoming a professional chef at some point. It seems like the perfect career; doing something you love and getting paid for it. However, being a chef is hard work. It’s a lot different from being an amateur cook; however good that cook is.

It’s also worth knowing that being a chef involves far more than just preparing and cooking food. It can also involve tasks such as planning menus and sourcing the best ingredients. For anyone who is prepared for all of the hard work, the good news is that there is no actual requirement for qualifications in order to become a chef, although certification can help when it comes to finding work.

The role of a chef

For anyone who is thinking of becoming a chef, it helps to understand what the role involves. It’s obvious that a chef prepares and cooks food. They are also involved in activities such as menu planning, foraging, inspecting ingredients, and may also have supervisory responsibilities. Some of these roles apply to every chef and some are dependent on which type of chef a person is.

Tim Ho Wan (Sham Shui Po, Hong Kong) 8

Different chefs in a kitchen

Some people think of chefs as all being the same. This is not accurate. There are several different types of chef involved in running a kitchen. The head chef is in charge of everything that happens in the kitchen and is supported by the sous chef who is the next most senior person. The sous chef is responsible for ensuring that the directives of the head chef are followed.

A chef de partie is responsible for supervising one section of the kitchen and a commis chef is the most junior person in the kitchen. Anyone starting out on a career as a chef will normally start out at this level. Aside from these different types of chef, there are also specialists such as pastry chefs, whose work involves one area of cuisine.

Steps to becoming a chef

Whether a person has ambitions to become a head chef or not, there are certain steps that help individuals to get started on a career in the kitchen.

  • Work in a kitchen as soon as possible. It does not matter what type of job is acquired. Anything from washing dishes to taking out the rubbish helps a person to get a feel of what it’s like to work in a busy kitchen. They are also where they need to be to start trying their hand at cookery.
  • Study-related courses online with providers such as, or attend a culinary school in person. It helps to know the theory and correct techniques behind the practice of being a chef.
  • Get work experience while studying. For anyone who decides to take the study route, it’s important to get practical experience as well. Find a part-time job in a kitchen while completing studies.

These steps should help anyone, who has the talent and perseverance, to progress along the path to becoming a professional chef. It can be hard work but the rewards make the effort worthwhile, for anyone who loves to create great food experiences.


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