There are different types of positions under the blanket term “Chef”. Truity.com gives a nice break down on the different types of chefs:
“Executive chefs, head cooks, and chefs de cuisine are primarily responsible for overseeing the operation of a kitchen. They coordinate the work of sous chefs and other cooks, who prepare most of the meals. Executive chefs also have many duties beyond the kitchen. They design the menu, review food and beverage purchases, and often train cooks and other food preparation workers. Some executive chefs primarily handle administrative tasks and may spend less time in the kitchen.
Sous chefs are a kitchen’s second-in-command. They supervise the restaurant’s cooks, prepare meals, and report results to the head chefs. In the absence of the head chef, sous chefs run the kitchen.
Private household chefs typically work full time for one client, such as a corporate executive, university president, or diplomat, who regularly entertains as part of his or her official duties.”
In this case I guess my research is based mostly on the job of a cook, but I still believe they deserve to be called “Chefs”.
Whether you become the head or are a supervised chef, the tasks involved are similar (the only difference is that the head does a lot more supervising and coordinating of kitchen activities as a whole):
Regarding food, they must make sure stock is fresh, develop recipes, determine how to present the food in the best way possible, plan menus and ensure uniform serving sizes and quality of meals. They also have to inspect supplies, equipment, and work areas for cleanliness (there is a standard that has to be kept) and functionality.
But not to worry, majority of the time is spend doing food preparation.
I just got you motivated to read further didn’t I. 😉
Personality and skills required for this position:
To put it briefly, business skills (if also running the restaurant themselves), good communication and time management skills and ability to remain focused under pressure (one has to work efficiently and effectively communicate their orders to other chefs even during the busiest hours), creativity, good dexterity (proper cooking techniques are required to produce high class dishes). A good sense of taste or smell are other requirements and just like the previous career, a passion for food!
How to get into this career:
Usually one has to enroll in a 4 year course at either a community college, vocational school or culinary school. From here one can apply to kitchens looking for entry level chefs. In order to get a higher position, one often has to spend many years working in kitchens as a cook (lower ranking chef) before learning enough to get promoted to chef or head cook positions.
The working hours:
Chefs usually have one of the 8 hour shifts rotating from morning to evening. Usually at the beginning of a month they schedule which 8 hour slots they will fill. Many higher ranking chefs work 12 hour shifts as they have to oversee food delivery and prepare menus for the day ahead of time.
In the USA the average annual amount a lower ranking chef receives is $54,628 and for a head chef, $77,622. South Africa brings the worrying average of R 69,000 for cooks and R 146,783 for head chefs.
-It is a very fast paced and changing career, menus always change. You are always learning new techniques and recipes.
-Your co-workers often become like family. All kitchen staff are united under the job.
-You get to travel all over the world and sample new foods (if you make it to a very highly ranked position).
-Being a chef allows you to express your creativity.
-Salary can be very attractive as far as working in high end restaurants and hotels go.
-It can be a very physically and mentally draining career especially during rush hours- one complaint could turn your production process upside down make you want to go curl up in a corner.
-The hours can seem long and demanding. And as above, one bad experience and your whole day could easily be ruined.
-Customers are often very picky and ungrateful. Meal complaints that you have to address to come every single day.
-Job growth projection for this career is lower than average
-You are working in a hazardous environment (fires, smoke, knives etc.).
My conclusion and rating on this career:
To anyone who becomes a chef I have utmost respect and admiration. It is such a giving job-preparing delicious food for people to enjoy-anyone doing it has to feel mighty good about themselves as a person. I also like to idea that chefs get to express themselves through their food. Personally I don’t see myself becoming a chef as I get drained after working around food for too long and worry about wanting to strangle ungrateful customers. But I’ll go on to give this career a solid 7/10.