The success or failure of a hotel or restaurant depends largely on the chef or team of chefs. Celebrity chefs around the world have made cooking a glamorous career option. To gain international recognition and make a successful business in the culinary arts, its vital that you find your niche and get trained to become the best in your field.
The key skills required to become a great chef are:
• Passion for food
• Desire to experiment and innovate
• Attention to detail
• Willingness to work hard
A professional qualification in the culinary arts along with work experience is required to gain a good foothold in the hospitality industry as a chef. Usually chefs work at several restaurants and gain experience under different mentors before they choose a specialty.
The life of a chef isn't quite as glamorous as it has been portrayed by the media. It takes a lot of hard work to get to the top.
Roles and responsibilities of a chef largely depend on the type of restaurant you might work at or the hierarchy present at your workplace. Most often, a chef is responsible for:
• Creating recipes and preparing meals
• Organizing the kitchen
• Directing staff and planning the meals to be served
• Determining serving sizes and planning menus
• Ordering supplies for food and supervising kitchen operations
It is essential to have knowledge of making a wide variety of food that include appetizers, salads, soups, main dishes, and desserts.
Those who have completed a professional course in the culinary arts can find opportunities in a number of areas to work in, such as hotels, resorts, specialty restaurants, cruise ships, or as a caterer or private chef.
The general hierarchy found in a well-established restaurant kitchen is:
Chef: Post training, it usually takes two years of working in the field to become a chef. Salaries could start at Rs. 15000 a month.
Sous Chef: A sous chef is the assistant to the executive chef. As a sous chef, you ill often shares some duties with the executive chef, such as menu planning, costing and ordering. A sous chef could get paid up to Rs 60,000 per month.
Executive Chef: It takes a couple of years of hard work to reach the position of executive chef. Cooking is a small part of what an executive chef does. Other core responsibilities kitchen management, scheduling, menu planning, food ordering, and the hiring and training of staff. The successful and reputed restaurant chains pay up to Rs 70,000- Rs 1,00,000 per month to their executive chefs.
What to study
There are basically two types of culinary schools you could go to- vocational cooking schools which offer certifications and diplomas, or universities which offer college degrees.
A vocational school programme typically lasts less than a year and involves a lot of hands-on experience. A good example of a culinary-only institution is the renowned Culinary Institute of America (CIA). CIA offers plenty of hands-on experience, with over 1,300 kitchen hours completed by graduation. The curriculum at four-year culinary schools and universities varies, and consists of a good amount of classroom work including cooking theory.
The advantage of studying in an international culinary school is the multicultural exposure you will gain, and the opportunity to get trained at some of the world’s best luxury hotels and specialty restaurants.
Courses you could study include:
Culinary Management – These programmes, offered at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, provide you with practical experience in the kitchen, and a sound knowledge of cost control, nutrition, sanitation and safety, menu management, and kitchen management.
Baking & Pastry programmes – If this is an area you want to specialise in, you get to learn the basics of pastry and bread-baking techniques, in addition to desserts, pastry art, and cake decoration.
Candidates applying to culinary arts, chef management or related courses should have finished 10 years of schooling and the 12th class or equivalent.