Becoming a chef requires a lot of commitment and passion for cooking. Still, how to become a chef is a common question these days. Mostly because chefs are in short supply and high demand in the UK. One might also want to become a chef because they enjoy cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.
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Despite being a demanding career, it can be very satisfying if cooking is something you love. Read on to learn more about becoming a chef in the UK and some valuable tips on how to become a chef if you have no experience.
How to Become a Chef in the UK?
Here’s everything you need to know about being a chef, including what qualifications and skills you will need to have and what duties, responsibilities you’ll have to fulfil.
What Qualifications do You Need to Become a Chef?
You don’t necessarily need a degree to become a chef. Still, a Higher National Diploma (HND), a foundation degree or a degree in professional cookery or culinary arts can help you gain essential skills and knowledge to become a chef.
You can get into this job through one of the following:
- A college course
- A university course
- An apprenticeship
- Working towards this role
In University, you could study for a foundation degree, Higher National Diploma. You can also get a degree in:
- Culinary arts
- Professional cookery
To fulfil entry requirements in a university, you’ll usually need:
- 1 or 2 A levels, or equivalent, for a foundation degree or higher national diploma
- 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
Many of these related degrees contain a placement that will give you valuable real-life industry experience working in a professional kitchen. Also, some restaurants prefer recruiting professional cooking or culinary arts students and graduates. That is because they are more familiar with cooking techniques and food handling methods.
What Skills do You Need to Become a Chef?
To become a chef, you’ll need to show the following skills and abilities:
- Very passionate about cooking
- Excellent technical skills and cooking techniques. (It includes knowing how to cook, store, serve food etc.)
- Physical endurance, as working in a kitchen is very demanding
- A good deal of self-motivation
- Very flexible attitude
- Exceptional teamwork and communication skills
- Willing to learn and take on board instructions
- Good organisational skills and the ability to delegate
- Extreme attention to detail to ensure consistency and high standards
- Commitment and loyalty
- Hard-working and a calm approach to stressful situations
- Ability to work without supervision
- Language skills, particularly French or Spanish, are also valuable
What Duties and Responsibilities will You have as a Chef?
It’s always a good idea to have some insight into what you will have to do in a profession. Your daily responsibilities will vary depending on your role. Here are some common tasks to give you an idea of how it’ll be –
- Prepare attractive menus while maintaining nutritional standards
- Order stock, inspect them on delivery and manage them
- Gut and prepare various types of meat or fish for cooking
- Grate, cut and wash large quantities of vegetables, fruits
- Cook and plate food creatively
- Monitor dishes to maintain quality and consistent portion sizes
- Make sure food is served on time, even when working under pressure
- Maintain hygiene at all times
- Adhere to health, safety and licensing rules
As you progress in your profession, these responsibilities will increase and change accordingly.
Career Path and Progression of a Chef
Along with job satisfaction, being a chef offers great career advancement opportunities, from commis chef to demi chef, chef de partie, sous chef, chef de cuisine and finally executive chef.
After gaining some experience, you can progress to section chef or station chef and look after a particular area like desserts or appetisers. Here’s a Pastry Chef Training course to get you ready for an amazing career.
The next step is – sous chef, which will mean running an entire kitchen when the head chef is busy. Finally, as a head chef or chef de cuisine, you’ll run the whole kitchen, create menus, and handle the budget.
Moreover, you could move into the business side of this industry by taking a foundation degree or degree in hospitality management. Many large establishments have executive chefs, who are usually in charge of multiple outlets. It’s a management role, which means very little cooking.
You could also train as a chef teacher or instructor working for a college or training provider.
How to Become a Cuisine Chef?
A chef de cuisine or an executive chef is the main chef in any restaurant. And the chef de cuisine is in charge of all the other functional chefs in a particular kitchen. This position is also known as a grand chef, head chef, chef manager, or master chef.
An executive chef will coordinate kitchen staff and decide how the kitchen will be run. Becoming an executive chef requires working up the kitchen and restaurant hierarchy.
How to Become a Chef Teacher in the UK?
After spending a certain amount of time as a chef, you may want to share your experience and knowledge with others. If that’s the case, you can become a chef instructor or teacher.
As a chef instructor, you can train aspiring chefs in high school vocational programs, vocational schools, and colleges. You will give lectures and demonstrations, assign homework, and guide skill labs. You will also need to develop lesson plans, interact and collaborate with fellow teachers, assess students’ skills through exams and demonstrations of abilities, meet with and advise individual students, stay informed about the latest trends in the field etc.
Aside from being a chef instructor, you can continue to work as a chef.
To teach, you will need Initial Teacher Education or Training (ITET) based at a university, school or college in the UK. Including this, there are a total of three ways you can become a chef teacher in the UK.
1. Take a Teacher Training course or complete PGCE or Postgraduate Certificate in Education that awards either a Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) or TQ qualification.
2. Contact your local independent schools and look for a suitable vacancy.
3. Follow the Teach First Program.
Culinary instructors hold at least an associate’s degree at the postsecondary level and have several years of experience in professional cooking and kitchen management. They also carry professional certification. To teach at the high school level, chef instructors need a bachelor’s degree and a state teacher’s licence, although they can obtain their teaching credentials through an alternative program.
Here are some helpful resources for you to improve your skills
Enjoy your training and learn as much as you can!
How Long Does It Take to Become a Chef in the UK?
How long it takes to become a chef varies, depending on a lot of factors.
Your training period might range from a few months to many years. It also depends on your educational path and what you want to do as a chef.
Generally, cooking schools or university training have a set start and end date. But learning on the job or as an apprentice can go on for years. And even those who go to school won’t land a top chef position as soon as they finish. So, the bottom line is you’ll have to get some on the job experience.
Moreover, you should ask yourself, “What kind of chef do I want to be?” And “Where do I ultimately want to end up as a chef?”
For example, our Cooking and Chef Bundle Course will provide you with a solid foundation that will help you work in your own home.
Or, you can start working today in a kitchen washing dishes and spend the next several years learning from other chefs. You may start as a commis chef and then work up to being the head chef over the years.
In other words, how long it takes for you to become a head chef varies spending on what method you choose. So choose wisely!
What does a Chef Earn in the UK?
Typically, the starting salary of a chef and the salary of an experienced chef will vary. Below are some salary ranges for different chef positions to give you an idea of what to expect.
|Chef Position||Salary Range|
|Commis chefs||Between £12,000 and £16,000|
|Sous chefs||Between £20,000 and £30,000|
|Head chefs||£25,000 to £55,000+|
Please note that income figures are intended as a guide only.
Salaries also vary significantly depending on the type and location of the establishment one works in. For example, a sous chef in a 5 Michelin-starred restaurant might earn more than someone in an equivalent position in a contract catering business. Similarly, a chef in a fast-food restaurant chain will most likely have a lower salary than one in a fine dining restaurant.
Top Tips for Becoming a Chef With No Experience
Here are some tips to get you started on the path to becoming a chef without any experience.
1. Start from the Bottom
Starting from the bottom of the kitchen, for example – a commis chef job is a great way to get yourself into your very first kitchen.
Also, it is easy to find a kitchen porters job (wash up). You can contact the establishments where you wish to take a commis chef’s job and ask if they have any kitchen porter jobs.
You will find a job quickly because kitchen porters are very in demand. Show them your enthusiasm or interest in cooking and wanting to become a chef. You will also get to watch experienced chefs and learn how they work.
And with great performance, dedication, it may take about 3 – 6 months for you to get noticed as a future commis chef.
2. Continuous Networking
Networking can be a powerful tool to become a chef. If anybody within your friend circle or family are working within the industry, ask them if they’ve heard about any vacancies.
Social media is also a useful tool. Build connections and follow pages relevant to the hospitality industry. Also, keep an eye out for any information about recruiting new staff in your preferred establishments.
3. Build Your CV
A CV contains a summary of your career and education. It is a vital document because it demonstrates the skills and experience you have gathered.
A well-written CV is extremely crucial to get your first commis chef job. The following are some essential points to remember when you’re preparing your CV –
- It must be concise, well-written and readable
- It should be tailored to each job description
- Include relevant experiences
- Add two suitable references.
4. Get an Apprenticeship
You will find many Chef Apprentice Programme near you. For example, you can take an apprenticeship at the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Chefs’ Apprenticeship. Usually, as an apprentice, you will work towards a cooking qualification. And you may have to spend one day a week at college. The rest of the week, you will be getting practical training on the job from industry-experienced staff. And you will get an apprenticeship wage.
5. Make a Cooking Portfolio
A cooking portfolio is one of the most important things you need to get a job in any high-end restaurant. The employment market has changed a lot; chefs who are looking for work nowadays need more to ‘wow’ the restaurant owners. A portfolio is a great way to show potential employers what you have to offer in the kitchen.
How to make a chef portfolio or a cooking portfolio?
Whether it’s an online portfolio or hardcopy, follow these some common steps to build a solid cooking portfolio –
- Take photos of yourself and your delicious dishes
- Gather all the recipes you’ve created
- Share intriguing details about you
- Highlight your services
- Add your contact details
Find a Job as a Chef
After you are qualified enough, you might want to look for a job as a chef. Here’s a link to help you find a job.
Here you can search for ‘what kind of job you are looking for,’ and you can specify ‘where’ too.
Good Luck, Chef!
Becoming a chef is definitely not for the faint-hearted! There will be many unsocial hours, including late nights, evenings, weekends or maybe even on Christmas Day.
The first ten years are considered the hardest. During this time, you must demonstrate your ability and willingness to learn. In addition, you will be continuously working in hot kitchens, often situated in a basement. Despite all this, many people love this work!
Start acquiring the necessary cooking skills to become a chef by practising at home. Get a job in a diner or restaurant, and ask for feedback from others. And remember that getting necessary training is crucial. Besides, you can never be too prepared.
If you believe you have what it takes to become a chef, embark on a tasty journey with this Cooking and Chef Bundle Course.
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