How To Become A Chef

You can become a chef by attending a culinary school and/or working as an apprentice for a chef in a restaurant. Chefs often work at several restaurants getting experience under different mentors before they choose a specialty.


You can get training in school vocational programs, two year colleges or four year college programs. Chefs and cooks also may be trained in apprenticeship programs offered by professional culinary institutes, industry associations, and trade unions. Some large hotels and restaurants operate their own training programs.

People who have taken courses in commercial food preparation may be able to start in a cook or chef job without having to spend time in a lower-skilled kitchen job.

School and curriculum varies, but students usually spend most of their time learning to prepare food through practice. They learn to bake, broil, and prepare food. They also learn to use and care for kitchen equipment. There are courses in menu planning, determination of portion size, food cost control, purchasing food supplies in quantity, selection and storage of food, and how to use of leftover food to minimize waste. Restaurant sanitation and public health rules for handling food are also taught.

A head chef will direct a kitchen staff, in addition to preparing meals, or start his/her own restaurant. If a chef is able to withstand the high stress and pressure of the job, they will most likely become a head chef within 10 years.

An executive chefs will often partner with financial restaurateurs to open their own restaurants. These top chefs spend more time with patrons and investors than in the kitchen.

Job Descriptions

Chefs and dinner cooks prepare, season, and cook food. Chefs spend time on their feet, cooking, chopping, and stirring. They need to be able to lift heavy pots and boxes of food.

The responsibilities of chefs and cooks are determined by a number of factors, including the type of restaurant in which they work.

Job Description May include:

  • Create, plan and price menus
  • Prepare and cook the food according to customer's order
  • Arrange and garnish the food for serving
  • Supervise other kitchen staff
  • Maintain cleanliness in the work place
  • Supervise cleaning and dishwashing
  • Buy food supplies and cooking equipment
  • Keep records of supplies.

Executive chef - The executive chef is in charge of everything related to the kitchen, including menu creation, personnel management and business aspects. The executive chef can also be referred to as the "head chef" or "chef".

Chef de cuisine - The chef de cuisine's placement within the kitchen can vary depending on the individual restaurant's hierarchy. Generally, it is either equivalent to an executive chef position, a position overseeing numerous establishments in a group of restaurants in charge of several executive chefs or a position equivalent to a sous chef, under the command of an executive sous chef.

Sous chef - The sous chef (pronounced "soo-shef" -- French for "under chef") is the direct assistant of the executive chef. The Sous Chef often shares some duties with the executive chef, such as menu planning, costing and ordering. Larger kitchens often have more than one sous chef, with each covering a certain shift or having his or her own area of responsibility, such as the banquet sous chef, in charge of all banquets, or the executive sous chef, in charge of all other sous chefs.

Generally done by the sous chef, the expeditor serves as the liaison between the customers in the dining room and the line cooks. With the help of proper coordination and timing, they make sure that the food gets to the wait staff in a timely fashion, so that everyone sitting at a particular table is served simultaneously.

Chef de partie - A chef de partie, also known as a "station chef" or "line cook", is in charge of a particular area of production. In large kitchens, each station chef might have several cooks and/or assistants. In most kitchens however, the station chef is the only worker in that department. Line cooks are often divided into a hierarchy of their own, starting with "First Cook", then "Second Cook", and so on as needed. Station chef titles can include:

Sauce chef or saucier - prepares sauces, stews, and hot hors d'oeuvres, and sautes foods to order. This is usually the highest position of all the stations.

Fish cook or poissonier - Prepares fish dishes (this station may be handled by the saucier in some kitchens).

Vegetable cook or entremetier - Prepares vegetables, soups, starches, and eggs. Large kitchens may divide these duties among the vegetable cook, the fry cook, and the soup cook.

Roast cook or rotisseur - Prepares roasted and braised meats and their gravies, and broils meats and other items to order. A large kitchen may have a separate broiler cook or grillardin (gree-ar-dan) to handle the broiled items. The broiler cook may also prepare deep-fried meats and fish.

The pantry chef or garde manger - is responsible for cold foods, including salads and dressings, pâtés, cold hors d'oeuvres, and buffet items.

Pastry chef or pâtissier [pa.ti.sje] - prepares pastries and desserts.

The relief cook, swing cook, or tournant - replaces other station heads.

Cooks and assistants
In larger kitchens, each station chef would have cooks and assistants (commis) that help with the particular duties that are assigned to that area. With experience, assistants may be promoted to station cooks and then to station chefs.

Source: - document license

Freeware -Menu item pricing tool, cost of goods calculator, food cost budget tool and lots more!