How to Start a Career as a Professional Chef

By on May 25, 2013

Is your dream to become a professional chef? While there are chefs that worked their way up through dish washing, and have no formal education, you’ll have a much better chance of reaching your goal with a solid education and experience. That means attending culinary school and earning your dues.

Attend Culinary School

Many colleges and universities across America have culinary programs. If you’re truly passionate about becoming a professional chef, it’s in your best interest to attend a culinary school. Culinary schools are set up to offer the best equipment so that you can learn a number of important skills. Like any other professional field, some schools will be harder to get into than others and some will have long waiting lists. Apply as early as possible and be prepared to wait.

Intern in Professional Kitchens

A good culinary school will also help you find internships with major restaurants in the area. These internships can help you learn invaluable information that will help you form a strong foundation as you work to become a professional chef. These internships will not be glamorous and you will more than likely be doing prep work, but you’ll still be able to learn important skills.

Gain Experience Through World Travel

Some of the top chefs in America have worked in kitchens around the world. A great example is Mario Batali who apprenticed in Italy. Though apprenticing in foreign countries isn’t mandatory, it can help you learn cooking styles from the experts. It also looks good on your resume.

Work Your Way Up the Ladder

By no means will you start out working as a head chef. It doesn’t matter which school you attended. This is how the culinary field operates. Your first job will more than likely be as a prep chef or line cook. It will take time to work your way up and prove that you’re cut out for culinary work. Some head chefs like to test new employees to see if they can withstand a barrage of hard work, screaming, and insults. In other words, you must prove yourself.

Open Your Own Restaurant

Last, but not least, once you’ve worked as a head chef at several restaurants, you may want to open your own restaurant. Opening your own restaurant allows for ultimate freedom in menu creation and much more. It’s not without risk though. Most new restaurants fail because of poor planning, lack of experience, or an unprofessional staff. You can, of course, make sure your staff always looks great by outfitting them with professional gear from chefworks.com and similar, industry-specific places.

To become a professional chef you need a solid education and years of experience. It’s one of the hardest careers to obtain, but with hard work you can turn your dream into a reality.

About Nicole Keller