A chef is involved in the daily running of a restaurant or food service business. The chef normally supervises other cooks in the establishment. They handle all food related issues, and they provide leadership for the cooking staff. The chef is the most qualified person in the establishment; their thorough knowledge and creativity assists them in creating and preparing new recipes.
Chef, Cooking and Food Preparation Job Responsibilities
The chef is the manager of the kitchen; thus, the hiring, training, and supervising of staff falls under their authority. The running of the kitchen is also their responsibility, so the chef must order food and supplies, set employee work schedules, and ensure the business runs smoothly and efficiently. Sanitation is a big part of running a food service business, and the chef is responsible for making sure that the restaurant or food establishment meets all regulations and guidelines. Food safety involves several factors. For instance, proper storage of food, proper cooking of food, proper cleaning of equipment and dishes are all important factors in effectively running a food service business.
Furthermore, all chefs have a hand in the overall running of the food service business, but there are also specific roles that chefs play in the food service business. The executive chef or head cook is primarily concerned about coordinating the preparation of food of the cooks. The sous chef is the second leader in the kitchen; in the absence of the executive chef, the sous chef runs the kitchen. An excellent chef can bring fame to the restaurant and receive personal accolades for their work.
Chefs have the flexibility to work in a variety of settings. Many organizations hire these professionals. Grocery stores may employ them to create special recipes for their deli and food departments. Schools, hospitals, and residential facilities also employ chefs to create and prepare food. It has become increasingly popular for celebrities and other wealthy people to employ a personal chef. Oftentimes, these chefs will make many meals for their client to reheat later. A private chef for a household is usually committed to that one client. There are some companies that also employ private chefs to provide personal service.
In addition, the chef must be able to stand working long hours. Running a food establishment is fast paced and requires physical stamina. Working hours are non-traditional. Chefs must be able to work holidays, weekends, and late nights. They must be available for customers during these times.
Chef, Cooking and Food Preparation Training and Education Requirements
By the time a person reaches the position of chef, this person has had experience working in a restaurant or other food service business. Many start out as food line workers in a restaurant, and they gain experience that leads to promotion. There are a number of chefs that have taken formal training at a vocational school or cooking school. The majority of executive chefs have some type of formal training, but those that have extensive experience and no formal training can also get promoted. Community colleges, vocational, technical, and universities have two and four year programs that lead to a degree in hospitality.
Entering an apprenticeship program is also important. Many beginning chefs train under a more experienced chef for two or more years. The successful chef must have good leadership skills. The ability to work well with customers and staff is important. The chef must have a passion for catering to the customer. An unhappy customer is bad for business; thus, people skills and customer service are essential for becoming a successful chef. The ability to listen effectively to the needs and wants of customers is also important in this profession.
Chef, Cooking and Food Preparation Salary and Wages
Salaries for chefs and food preparation professionals can vary greatly according to the type of establishment and region of the country. A survey taken in 2008 revealed that the median salary for chefs is approximately $38,000. Those chefs that fall within the middle range earn from $29,000 to $52,000 per year. Those with the lowest wages earned $22,000 or less, and chefs that earn the most average $66,000 or more per year. Many chefs branch out and open their own restaurant and make six figures or more. The possibilities are endless in this profession.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Chef, Cooking and Food Preparation Certifications
The American Culinary Federation provides an opportunity for chefs to become certified. The standards for this certification is founded upon formal chef training and previous experience. It is not necessary to become certified; however, certification proves competence and it can assist in advancement in the profession.
Chef, Cooking and Food Preparation Professional Associations
The Professional Chef’s Association is a group that seeks to further the culinary industry. Members of this organization come together to continue honing their skills and knowledge. Also, this association acts as a voice for the culinary community. Another professional association is US Personal Chef Association. This organization is primarily for those who are private chefs. The members share their methods and experience with one another. This group is a meeting place for chefs that want to continue to improve their careers and networking opportunities.