Chef Career Information
What a Chef does
As a chef you will be leading a platoon of sous chefs in a glamorous, stainless steel kitchen and presenting fabulous meals to hundreds of people. But it is not half as glamorous as it sounds.
You will be lifting heavy pots, being on your feet for eight hours, stirring vats of sauces, rolling pounds of dough. So you see it's a lot of hard work.
Many chefs specialise in a certain type of cuisine. A chef should be able to relate well to guests and cater to their specific tastes. So as a chef you are expected to be armed with extensive knowledge about different cultures, cuisine and related information.
A would-be chef is trained in preparing food, pre-preparation of ingredients, usage of utensils, knowledge of various ingredients, food science, changes the food undergoes while heating, safety, like at what temperature you need to hold and serve the food, sanitation aspects, communication, nutrition, food science and more.
As a chef you can find jobs in:
As a chef you could start your career as a trainee in a hotel and learn the ropes. Most star rated hotels recruit trainees in all departments. As a chef you could approach them with your CV.
Alternatively as a chef you could also start your own catering unit or a fast food joint if you have the financial backing. However, a small stint in a large hotel would widen your horizon a lot.
In a large hotel as a chef you will start as an apprentice cook and then work your way up to a certified cook, demi-chef, chef-de-partie, sous chef, executive sous chef, executive chef, and finally a corporate chef or food director. However, the names of the designations may differ from hotel to hotel.
It has to be mentioned that it might take as long as 15 years to reach the top - the position of an executive chef. If you hit it big time you could even be called to do television shows. Such shows can bring a good mix of income and fame.
Take Tarla Dalal and Sanjeev Kapoor. Established chefs can also publish cookbooks. This has also proved to be a runaway success.
Conducting cookery classes is another option that can be pursued either full time or part time.
You can become restaurateurs or enter some related food-industry position. A few chefs move into catering. As a chef, you could even try your luck working at a hotel or a cruise liner abroad. Apart from a fat pay cheque you also get to see the world, stay in the best hotels and eat the best food.
One thing's for sure - you won't go hungry!
Abilities & Traits Required
As a chef you require to be:
When people dine out they expect the food to not just taste good but also look appetising. Looks count because it makes a customer psychologically more receptive to the food.
It's the chef's responsibility to not only tingle the taste buds but also the eyes. Making a dish look fabulous is an art, which needs to be perfected.
As a chef you will work in tandem with other chefs to make sure that the dishes reach the table on time, according to the specifications of the guest and looking breathtaking.
Innovation is the word for a Chef. You can't keep serving the same dishes for long as guests need variety. So you will be expected to cook up new dishes.
Customers can be finicky, and so as a chef you got to be very sensitive and patient. Another important aspect of a chef's life is the long and unusual work hours, making it difficult for them to socialise.
To become a chef one can go in for courses in food processing, catering technology and any other relevant course. This is one field where skills of a person who has not had any formal training in the area may be superior to that of a trained chef. The proof of the pudding, so to say, is in the eating.
During the trainee period, you get paid a stipend of Rs 1000 that does not even cover your to and fro travel cost but you learn the tricks of the trade. If you do well, you may be offered a job -- at Rs 25000-45000 per month! With 2-3 years of experience you will be drawing around Rs 25000-55000.
Chefs with 10 years of experience earn between Rs 25000-50000. After a stint as a chef abroad in a hotel or on a cruise liner you could easily make about Rs 40000-60000 a month.