Most people think that a chef is simply a person who cooks in restaurant kitchens. However, this isn’t quite the case. Chefs do everything from coming up with new recipes to coming up with new cooking methodologies to enhance existing recipes.
Whether you just like cooking or are someone who likes to innovate and experiment with new and unforeseen recipes, learning to be a chef is an important life decision.
How to become a Chef?
By and large, there are two pathways towards becoming a successful chef – you can either learn it in the classroom or out in a kitchen. If you choose the former, then the primary degree that a chef has to acquire is a Degree in Hotel Management.
There are several top institutions offering hotel management courses in the nation, and while entry into them is not always simple, three years in one of them is bound to transform you from an enthusiast to an intermediate chef.
After your Bachelor’s you can get several culinary courses offered around the nation to specialize in a specific genre of cooking.
After you graduate, you have to enter a restaurant or a hotel as a trainee chef, following which you’ll be given the title of a chef. This is, of course, only the beginning of your journey, as several years into your experience as a chef, you’ll be promoted to the status of a Sous chef, and then finally to an Executive Chef, the highest cadre for chefs.
Needless to say, this takes several years and a lot of hard work. Other alternatives you can try out are to remain at chef school after you graduate and pursue research and development in food technology instead of working. If you have the knack for it, you could also open your own restaurant or chain.
Eligibility criteria to become a Chef
+2: No restrictions. Students from either streams (Science, Commerce, Arts) are eligible.
Bachelor’s Degree: Bachelors of Hotel Management
Master’s Degree: Master of Hotel Management (optional)
A day in the life of a Chef
Hello, I’m Rajendra. I’m a chef working at a five-star hotel in India. After schooling, I pursued a degree in culinary arts and sciences from a top Indian institution.
Since then, I have worked at six major hotels and restaurant chains before reaching my present workplace. Come along into the kitchen and I’ll show you what it’s like.
6:00 AM: This may be an ungodly hour for most people to work at, but in my kitchen, and most hotel kitchens, chefs are already halfway through their job. I am in charge of today’s breakfast and have an entire army of chefs working on it since five.
7:00 AM: Because hotels such as these are popular choices for large firms when it comes to tours or business meets, a lot of our customers ask for breakfast as early as seven.
For some, breakfast merely constitutes a cup of coffee and a bowl of porridge, or what they would normally eat on a working day. Others, however, have their own tastes and discretion that as a chef, I gladly follow.
8:00 AM: This is the equivalent for “rush hour” in a chef’s kitchen. My staff is running a bit late on the Indian menu. We are going with the traditional ‘Chhole Bhature’, and one of the most intriguing parts of it is to boil chickpeas.
You’ll be surprised to know that until as late as 2006, there was no universally agreed-upon technique of effectively boiling chickpeas in the culinary world. You see, chickpeas tend to be so dense, that even several hours of intense boiling fails to bring them to a state where their outsides are firm even as the insides are cooked and juicy.
Fortunately, food technologists came up with a simple technique – adding baking powder in the boiling water, along with a tea bag. The sodium bicarbonate helps to loosen the fabric of the chickpeas, while the tea bag simply provides the acidity needed to neutralize the bitter taste of baking powder from the final product. Cool, isn’t it? Ah, I see that they’re finished.
10:00 AM: The majority of our customers have finished their breakfast by now, and I’m in the process of supervising the inventory update – after each meal, we have to update the stocks and requirements of the kitchen to ensure that we don’t run out. Soon, a second chef is going to come and handle the lunch menu.
12:00 PM: This time of the day is when I deal with the official aspects of being a chef. I’m talking to one of my interns in a few minutes – he’s required to submit a report of his training at our institute and I’m required to be his immediate supervisor.
After this is done, I am going to have to pay a quick visit to the produce section to analyze and approve of today’s purchase of fresh produce. You see, one of us has to do this every time something is bought to keep up quality standards.
3:00 PM: Because Indian restaurants still keep up with British traditions, high-end hotels such as this one serve cream tea at four in the evening. I’m back in the kitchen supervising the baking of scones as I keep myself busy preparing the apricot jam that we’ll be serving the scones with.
5:00 PM: The hotel starts serving its evening menu from five in the afternoon sharp and given the majority of Indian customers, we get a lot of orders for Indian evening snacks such as Upma and Samosas, aside of the now-staple Burgers, Sandwiches, and Chips, and we’re usually ready for anything.
I’ve asked the trainee I was talking earlier to prepare a morsel of French-style scrambled eggs. He seems to be doing a satisfactory job.
7:00 PM: Evening teas are sporadic compared to the breakfast – we have orders as early as half three in the afternoon and as late as nine in the evening for coffee and snacks.
It seems to be done with now, for the day, and I’m going to keep a junior chef on duty in case more orders turn up. In a few minutes, the chef who’ll be in charge of the dinner menu will turn up, and I’ll be off for the day.
A fascinating life, isn’t it? Do you want to become like me? We hope this article has answered all your queries related to this profession. Have your say in the comment box below. Enjoy Reading!