In the United States, food service is among the most diverse and most prominent industries. It is also among one of the fastest-growing industries.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the restaurant industry will grow by 17% from 2020 to 2030.

Careers in the foodservice industry have multiple unique benefits, making them quite appealing to prospective employees.

Some of the benefits are: being able to creatively express yourself at work and getting a chance to travel globally and find a job anywhere in the world.

So, if you consider kick-starting your career in the foodservice industry as a chef but have no idea where to start, you’ve come to the right place.

Let us go through the requirements for becoming a chef and the possible paths for you once you have become a chef.

Chef setting plates for the customers
There are multiple requirements for becoming a chef, and even though being able to cook mouthwatering dishes is essential, there are other factors to keep in mind. Your presentation and creative skills also matter a lot when you aim for careers in foodservice. (Source: Unsplash)
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Chef Education Requirements

The professional chefs you see today on television, YouTube, or in the restaurants typically started their path as lower-level workers or line cooks.

However, with experience, they progressed to higher positions and eventually gained the title of ‘chef.

Even though education is not a requirement for becoming a chef, many chefs combine their experience with academic training to gain the upper hand.

Here is a list of some of the educational programs available for people aspiring to be a chef:

Formal Training Programs

If you are aspiring to be a chef, then you have the option to pursue formal training via culinary programs by universities, community colleges, and culinary institutes.

Some people for a complete certificate program which lasts a few months; whereas, others pursue a two-year associate or a four-year bachelor’s degree.

Typically, the focus of culinary programs is on in-class instruction and hands-on training in the kitchen. Courses usually include sanitation and safety, food preparation, nutrition, baking, and cooking techniques.

Depending on the program you choose, you might be required to complete an internship program.

Apprenticeship Program

On the other hand, potential chefs can also gain culinary knowledge via formal apprenticeships, combining hands-on training with classroom education.

Food-industry organizations and culinary schools, like the American Culinary Federation (ACF), sponsor various apprenticeships.

Opportunities for an apprenticeship might also be available for you through unions affiliated with the US Department of Labor.

Voluntary Certification

This educational requirement is only for professional chefs. However, many professional chefs can show their culinary skills and increase their opportunities for advancement by gaining voluntary certification.

Organizations such as ACF provide around 14 different certification titles for culinary professionals.

The eligibility requirements differ by the certification level, but they usually entail minimal post-secondary education and work experience.

The qualified candidates have to pass both a practical and written exam. In addition, once the chef has become certified, they have to renew their certification every five years by carrying out a minimum of 80 continuing education hours.

Specialties Available For You To Become A Chef

The work environment that interests you the most is a defining factor for becoming a chef.

Just like nurses have various specialties; similarly, chefs can also focus on specific areas.

These requirements depend on the kind of chef you want to become. Here are some of the chef specialties that you can strive for in your career in foodservice:

A chef preparing food on the working station
Careers in the foodservice industry entail various chef jobs, including garde managers, commis chef, executive chef, sous chef, pastry chef, and saucier. Find the right specialty and interest for yourself, and then work on achieving the requirements for that specialty. (Source: Unsplash)

Commis Chef

They are apprentices that work in various areas of the kitchen for a specified duration. Working in this position adds significant value to your learning experience since commis work directly under specialty chefs.

Executive Chef

They are the top brass and are responsible for coordinating with staff, hiring, and preparing food.

Professionals who work in this capacity have a lot riding on them since they plan almost everything required to run a professional kitchen.

Garde Managers

They are cooks that specialize in the preparation and presentation of all cold foods, including cold dressings, canapés, sauces, and salads, to name a few.

Personal Chefs

These chefs prepare meals for the private households, and depending on the employer, they might also be responsible for purchasing kitchen supplies and groceries.

Pastry Chefs

As the name suggests, they specialize in desserts, confections, and baked goods. Their job duties also entail ordering the ingredients for recipes.

Saucier

They are experts in making sauces.

Sous Chefs

They work directly under the executive chef and supervise staff, plan activities, and prepare food.

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Some Other Requirements To Become A Chef

Apart from educational requirements, there are also specific qualifications for chefs necessary for careers in foodservice:

Training And Education

Typically, the formal training to become a chef occurs in various post-secondary institutions; however, many students start their classes in high school, followed by on-job experience.

You also have an alternative to getting a two to a four-year degree in hospitality or culinary arts. The educational facilities that cater to these degrees include:

  • Independent cooking schools
  • Universities or colleges
  • Armed forces
  • Culinary arts school
  • Community college
  • Technical school

Educational programs might need their students to complete apprenticeships or internships. Some hotels and restaurants also provide training and job placement for employees interested in becoming chefs.

Knowledge Base

One of the key requirements to become a chef includes an extensive knowledge base covering much more than food preparation.

Practicing your cooking skills is a significant part of training, but students also have to learn:

  • Food Storage
  • Kitchen equipment care and use
  • Management
  • Health regulations
  • Cutting techniques
  • Menu planning
  • Computer Accounting and inventory
  • Nutrition
  • Purchasing
  • Portion control
  • Sanitation
  • Waste control
  • Spatial and Visual skills
A chef cutting roasted zucchini
Becoming a personal chef entails various duties, including waking up too early in the morning to make breakfast and staying up late to clean the dishes. You will also need to shop for kitchen groceries and equipment, depending on your client. If you want to kick-start your foodservice career, becoming a personal chef will be a perfect option. (Source: Unsplash)

Job Skills

Skills needed to become a professional chef include excellent leadership and communication skills, especially in advanced positions like an executive chef. Other attributes which contribute also include:

  • Organization
  • Ability to stand for long hours
  • Discerning sense of taste and smell
  • Ability to multitask
  • Creativity
  • Good memory
  • Stress management
  • Presentational skills
  • Work well with a team
  • Sense of timing

The ability to cook well is no doubt a significant aspect of working as an expert chef. Still, it is also essential to handle the stress that comes with simultaneously working on multiple recipes.

Most chefs work longer hours than average, and the advanced positions demand the ability to order ingredients, manage staff members, keep inventory, and evaluate food quality.

Therefore, as a chef, you must have a sharp mind coupled with your quick-acting ability.

Various successful chefs have learned the most valuable lesson of their career on the job, and the higher position in this field might require years of experience.

If you prefer to work independently and at a much slower pace, then a personal chef position is ideal for you.

Chef Careers In Foodservice

After covering almost every other requirement for becoming a chef, we finally come to the requirements for various specializations in your career as a chef.

There are multiple career paths you can follow in the foodservice industry based on your strengths and interests.

If you have a knack for meticulous and detailed work, you can pursue your career as a pastry chef or open your bakery.

If you are more interested in traveling to different places and creating unique menus, you can work as a caterer.

Here are some of the most common careers in the foodservice industry and the route you will have to take to reach them:

Becoming An Executive Chef

Executive chefs are in charge of the kitchen. They supervise all the kitchen stations and are typically responsible for designing the restaurant’s menu.

For many striving to become chefs, this position is the holy grail. But how do you become an executive chef?

Simply put, to reach this position, you need multiple years of working experience in the kitchen.

Furthermore, suppose you are going to be responsible for designing the menu and creating new recipes.

In that case, you might also have to prove your mantle by showing the owners you can create mouthwatering dishes which complement the establishment’s style and brand.

Finally, executive chefs must also have excellent administrative, time management, and managerial skills. That is why they are one of the highest-paid within the foodservice industry.

Becoming A Personal Chef

Private chefs bring in the excitement and experience of going out to eat at someone else house.

Getting a career in this specialty is excellent for you if you are an aspiring chef and have tremendous networking abilities and versatile cooking skills.

The first step to becoming a private chef is to form a personal business for tax purposes.

Then, you are on your way to becoming one by marketing yourself through word-of-mouth or going online to search for clients.

If you are not sure if becoming a personal chef is the right choice for you, here are specific skills that you have to utilize to succeed:

Have Great People Skills

To succeed as a personal chef, you must connect with clients and form an inviting and warm atmosphere.

Master Multiple Cooking Styles

As a private chef, you will need to create various dishes, so cooking multiple types of food is essential.

Ability To Handle Longer Hours

When you work as a personal chef, you must wake up early to prepare breakfast and stay up late until all the dishes are clean.

Becoming A Pastry Chef

To become a pastry chef requires a good deal of experience and specialized training.

Therefore, if you consider choosing baking or pastry chef as your career path, it is best to attend a culinary school that offers a pastry program.

There are also other ways to enter the pastry and baking industry as well. Another alternative that is an exciting option for individuals looking to get in the foodservice industry is via opening a home bakery.

Become A Renowned Chef!

Getting into the food service is a gratifying career path that helps you express your creativity while also providing freedom to enhance your career in the particular direction you desire.

There are multiple ways through which you can approach your career as a chef.

Whether through work experience or culinary school, you can search for the path that individually works best for you.

Still on edge on where to start your career in foodservice, why not head to Superprof and get in touch with experienced culinary tutors to begin your journey towards becoming a specialized chef.

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