A chef is one who is a cook by profession. However, chefs working with the hospitality sector today, have much more to do than mere cooking. To be more precise, the duty of a chef is to manage the entire kitchen and everything to do with cooking. A chef has to see to it that food is cooked in a way that meets the standards of cleanliness and hygiene. So, the modern chef should have more than just an interest in cooking. He should have a formal training in culinary skills behind him, to be successful as a chef. In addition to educational qualifications, the chef should be healthy and hygienic.
Culinary Chef Requirements
To become a chef, you need to be at least a high school graduate with some experience of practical training. There are many colleges that offer a degree or diploma in cooking. After obtaining a degree (or diploma), you can get some hands-on experience by working as a trainee in restaurant kitchens. Here you can get to see the master chefs at work, and can learn a lot in the process. Since a chef is responsible for deciding the price and measure of the delicacies served to the customers, your ability to do some quick calculations will be an added advantage.
Culinary Chef Job Information
The job opportunities for a culinary chef are mostly in places like hotels, cafeterias and restaurants, where people come to have food. The duty of a chef can vary widely depending on the demands of the place where he is working. Small restaurants and fast food chains have cooks who are adept at making food items such as burgers, pizza, sandwiches, hot-dogs, etc. Such cooks are called short-order cooks, because they specialize in food that gets ready in a jiffy and can be served quickly.
In restaurants that cater to a variety of cuisines from different parts of the world, there are many cooks, each with an expertise in a particular style of cooking. So, there you'll find separate cooks for Chinese, Continental, Thai, Italian, and Japanese food. Also, cooks are specialized in different departments, such as pastry, soups, desserts, roasting and grilling, among others. In large kitchens such as these, it becomes necessary to have someone to manage things on a day-to-day basis, and this is where the role of a chef comes into picture. The duty of a chef is to oversee the working in the kitchen and supervise the work of cooks and kitchen helpers.
The duties that a culinary chef has to do, varies according to his designation in the food service industry. After obtaining a degree in culinary arts, you can join a restaurant as a station chef or Chef de Partie. Station chefs or line cooks, as they are otherwise known as, prepare food in the kitchen. During this period as a station chef, one has the opportunity to see the second chefs and the executive chef at work. The second chef, or Sous Chef as he is known in French, is the person in charge of supervising the line cooks.
The responsibility of ensuring that food is ready on time, and every order is looked into and worked upon, lies with him. In other words, the second chef is the one whose job is to see that all the staff in the kitchen, including the cleaners and helpers, are doing their job efficiently. The next in rank is the executive chef, who is responsible for the working of the entire kitchen. The highest rank in the food service industry is that of an executive chef.
It is the executive chef who is responsible for ensuring that the food served to the customers, looks palatable and at the same time, tastes delicious. Once it's decided what's going to be on the menu card, the job of an executive chef is to decide the measure of a particular dish to be served per plate and to set a price for the dish accordingly. The entire responsibility of running the food joint or restaurant efficiently, lies with the executive chef. This includes maintaining a stock of necessary materials needed for preparing food, ensuring that the utensils used for cooking are clean, and electrical equipment such as microwave ovens, blenders, mixers, hot plates, etc. are functioning properly.
Sometimes, the executive chefs use their specialized training in culinary skills, to come up with new recipes that eventually find a permanent place on the restaurant's menu. If loved by many, such a dish can even go on to become the exclusive attraction of the food joint! Do you remember admiring the diverse menu of a restaurant you visited recently? Well, then it is the executive culinary chef who is to be thanked for it! How popular a restaurant is, largely depends on how good its cooks and chefs are. This is because the tastier and more presentable the food is, the more it will be appreciated by the customers. And more number of happy customers means the popularity of the restaurant will spread by word-of-mouth.
With the recent boom in the hospitality sector, employment opportunities for culinary chefs are many. Even though the salary may depend on several factors such as the location and the establishment where one is employed, the average annual salary of an executive chef ranges from $30,000 to $50,000.
This was all about a culinary chef and his duties. Hope this article inspires you to turn your passion for cooking into a rewarding profession. Wish you luck!