How to become a Chef

Chefs plan and organise the preparation and cooking of food in a number of settings.

Personal requirements of a Chef

  • High level of personal cleanliness
  • Enjoy cooking
  • Able to organise efficient work schedules
  • Good interpersonal, communication and customer service skills
  • Able to work as a leader and as part of a team
  • Punctuality
  • Able to work under pressure and stay calm in difficult situations

Education & Training for a Chef

To become a chef you usually have to complete an apprenticeship in Commercial Cookery. Entry requirements may vary, but employers usually require Year 10. For more details, see Section 2. Ask your career adviser about the possibility of starting some of this training in school.

Duties & Tasks of a Chef

Chefs may perform the following tasks:

  • plan menus and determine food and labour costs
  • recruit and train staff
  • plan staff rosters and supervise the activities of cooks and assistants
  • discuss food preparation issues with managers, dietitians and other staff members
  • order food, kitchen supplies and equipment
  • demonstrate techniques to cooks and advise on cooking procedures
  • prepare and cook food
  • explain and enforce hygiene regulations
  • freeze and preserve foods.

Working conditions for a Chef

Chefs may be required to work shifts, including weekends and public holidays, sometimes on a 24-hour rotating roster. The work may be stressful, especially at peak hours of the day. The range of duties carried out by chefs will vary depending on where they work. In larger establishments, the chef de cuisine or head chef generally does more supervising than cooking. Senior chefs have to attend staff meetings, where they discuss problems related to their areas, and receive or issue instructions to other managerial staff. In small restaurants, the head chef may prepare food, assisted by other cooks or apprentices. As well as expert cooking knowledge, chefs involved in supervision need a general knowledge of the skills and activities of all their workers. Chefs who have management responsibilities may also perform duties such as complaints resolution and maintenance of financial records.

Employment Opportunities for a Chef

Chefs are employed in hotels, motels, restaurants, clubs, cafés, cafeterias, hospitals, flight catering centres, seagoing vessels and food processing factories. Chefs with sufficient start-up money may become restaurant owners. The majority of chefs work in capital cities and in large country centres, particularly in areas where there are tourist resorts. Expanded tourism has increased demand for highly skilled chefs, particularly in establishments of international standard. In large kitchens, chefs usually progress from commis chef to chef de partie, to sous chef, to chef de cuisine, to executive chef or food manager. Movement between employers within the industry may be required in order to gain experience and promotion.

Specialisations:


Chef de Cuisine

A chef de cuisine is the head or first chef.


Chef de Partie

A chef de partie may specialise as a larder cook, butcher, pastry cook, sauce cook, roast cook, relief cook, side-dish cook, breakfast cook, canteen cook or fish cook.


Commis Chef

A commis chef is a cook who has just completed an apprenticeship or has an equivalent qualification.


Demi Chef de Partie

A demi chef de partie is the second-in-charge of a particular section of the kitchen.


Sous Chef/Second Chef

A sous chef/second chef is the second-in-charge in the kitchen.

Additional Information
Although both chefs and cooks complete an apprenticeship at certificate III level initially, chefs are generally required to gain further skills at certificate IV level and above.
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