Do you have what it takes to become a successful chef?
Have you ever envisioned yourself as a glamorous executive chef who goes to “Iron Chef” and cooks everybody else's bum to another planet? You are not the only one.
Becoming a chef can be a good career move only if you have the right personality, and it is definitely not as glorious as it seems on TV.
Working under constant pressure to deliver the food fast without sacrificing the quality in the process, standing on your feet for long hours, enduring cuts and burns, heavy lifting, noise, heat, smokes and fumes, working on evenings, weekends and holidays and almost anytime when the rest of the people are not working are just a few of the things you must go through before you can become a successful chef. Then, when you become a chef you might not have to do the heavy lifting, but you responsibilities will increase significantly.
Executive chefs or Head chefs are in charge of coordinating the work of the kitchen staff, control food cost, determine serving sizes, plan menus, order supplies, ensure quality and presentation of food is correct, schedule staff, train the cooks in Public Health regulations and how to store all products in order to control wastage.
However, becoming a chef has many advantages over a 9-to-5 job. For one, you'll never be bored. There is always something going on in a kitchen. All the fun and jokes aside, you will always be trying to outdo yourself and cook the most memorable meal in the life of everyone of your patrons. Add to this a dash of the good comments of your customers, the satisfaction of the job well done at the end of the night, the camaraderie and team work in the kitchen, the possibility to apply your creativity on a daily basis, the lifelong learning and the prospects of advancement, and you have all the ingredients for a successful and satisfying chef career.
Not everyone who steps into a kitchen is destined to become a chef, let alone a successful chef. Many people choose this line of work only to support themselves while they go through college or university, and I have no problem with that. The service industry is growing fast and always need workers. However only if you become a real chef you will get to feel the beautiful feeling of creating art, experience, love, madness and pleasure all in one dish. Of course not every chef have the gift to do it, but at least everybody can try. It is possible to paint even if you are not a Picasso.
There are many ways to become a chef, but I think that the best way is to work in a good restaurant for 2 years, learn everything you can and then go to college or start travelling the world and grow in the ranks. There are many opportunities for chefs around the world. The cruise lines are booming, Dubai, resorts in Europe, the Caribbean and so on. Also, the number of job openings for cooks and chefs in North America are expected to grow with 11% in the next decade.
I have done both - gone to college and travelled the world. I have been to so many places because of work that I have to still pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming. It has been always fun and very rewording experience. I am still learning new things and having fun, and if I could turn the time twenty years back I would still do the same thing all over again.
I wish you success and happy cooking.