The culinary industry is a very dynamic and exciting career opportunity. Being a chef is not just about tossing the wok the whole day. All the chefs you can find at reputed hotels and restaurants are trained professionals who have graduated from culinary schools, just like an engineer has to graduate from a university. An engineer may need to do computer networking assignments or machine learning homework help them propel themselves in the professional world. However, chefs need to go through gruelling internships before identifying as professional chefs.
If you are creative and have a learning attitude, the culinary world can be an exciting and rewarding career. On that note, here are the top 13 reasons to choose a career as a chef.
You Get to Travel
The F&B industry is a major employment sector all over the world. There are lots of fancy dining establishments in many countries, and they always are on the hunt for a good chef. So, if you love to cook and dream of visiting new countries, you can take up a job anywhere you like.
Moreover, many famous restaurants and delis like McDonald’s, Taco Bell, or Nusr-Et have operations on multiple continents. So, you can start working for any such brands and get transferred to their other locations. In addition, many fancy cruises hire chefs to work aboard. These cruises are always on the go, and you can visit different countries and immerse yourself in the diverse culinary cultures around the world.
Experiment with Various Cuisines
Usually, chefs start their careers by specialising in specific cuisines like Italian, Chinese, Mediterranean, etc. While some chefs prefer to focus on their area of specialisation and become masters of their trade, others may want to explore other cuisines.
They always strive to expand their culinary knowledge, making them some of the most innovative chefs in the world. For example, Joël Robuchon, who has the record for the most number of Michelin stars, rose to fame through relentless innovation in his trade. Once you start experimenting with various dishes and cuisines, you will gradually develop your own cooking style and techniques that make you a desirable candidate for the top-rated restaurants in the world
Explore Both Science & Art
Cooking is part science and part art. You will need a strong sense of aesthetics to plate a dish, garnish it beautifully and make it look appetising before the guests. Similarly, chefs often resort to science to develop new cooking techniques. Understanding the Maillard reaction or Sous Vide while making a steak or molecular gastronomy heavily involves scientific concepts and equipment. Mastering these techniques needs a great deal of knowledge and practical experience to succeed.
Many restaurants use chemicals like liquid nitrogen, carrageenan, monosodium glutamate, guar gum, and sodium nitrite in their special dishes. To ensure the perfect cook, they also need to measure everything from flour to spices with measuring cups, scales, and thermometers. These are extremely technical things and allow you to explore your artistic and scientific sides.
The Drive to Do Better
As a professional chef, you must work on your skills daily. You acquire skills that help you become a better chef through continuous practice. You can implement this trait in your personal life too. You strive to be a perfectionist in every aspect of life. This helps you become a successful person in your personal and professional life.
The Window to Creativity
Being a chef gives you unlimited freedom to be creative. You can make your own recipes or develop other traditional recipes to suit the pallet of a targeted audience. Many customers love to get surprises on their plates. You can tweak the recipes or garnish them creatively with faux caviars, sugar decorations, or edible flowers to delight them with stunning visual presentations.
It may happen that during the peak hours of the day, chefs find themselves short of ingredients or inconsistent ration supplies. They can use their creative flair to manage such situations and make substitutions where required. Chefs enjoy when they need to push their creativity, and that excitement keeps them driving.
Enjoy Flexible Working Hours
If you like non-traditional working hours, the culinary field may be the one for you. For example, some restaurants specialise or have special brunch hours. If you are a chef in one of these places, you may have to work for an unconventional 9 am-1 pm time slot.
Many highly paid chefs have short working hours. They work for a couple of hours, go home early and get enough time to spend time with their families. Some restaurants operate on late nights. If you are a chef at any such place, you can have the whole day to yourself and work only at night. On the other hand, many restaurants operate 24/7, such as drive-throughs, and you may need to work various shifts according to the rosters.
No Dull Moment at Work
If you work as a chef, you must be physically fit and active throughout your shift. The work of a chef can get physically demanding, and you will never face a dull moment in the kitchen. Chefs need to spend most of the time standing and running throughout the kitchen to monitor the different workstations.
If you are an executive or sous chef, you may need to train new employees and manage the logistics and rosters daily. They also need to make sudden decisions within a moment throughout the day to ensure smooth operations in the kitchen. This keeps them physically active throughout the day.
Explore Self-Employment Opportunities
After gaining considerable experience as a chef, you can consider starting your fast food joint or a restaurant. Since you already have experience with a commercial kitchen, you can easily manage the various aspects of a new business.
You can easily identify and hire the best talents, curate your own menu, and decide on the best working hours to generate maximum profit. In addition, starting your own venture can give you personal satisfaction and the power to run an establishment the way you want.
Engage in Meaningful Work
The chefs’ work is often undermined, whereas, in reality, they do a lot of meaningful work. For example, chefs get trained to know the individual palates of customers. So, they can ask the right questions to identify a guest’s palate and customise the food accordingly. Similarly, they can also help customers to discover new flavour profiles and taste combinations, thereby expanding their palate.
Customers come to chefs with various demands all the time. Many people have less heat tolerance, some can be lactose intolerant, and others may prefer eating Keto or gluten-free meals. Chefs can attend to such special requirements and help their guests to achieve their personal preferences or fitness goals.
Better Career Progression
If you already have a knack for cooking, then becoming a chef can be your next step. While the concept of a cook and a chef often gets diluted, there is a difference between the two. The biggest difference will be that a cook always follows existing recipes and uses techniques widely used in the culinary field.
However, chefs use their experiences to develop new recipes or try to improve existing ones. They will always look to invent and experiment with familiar concepts and try to create something new out of the ordinary. So, when you start your journey as a chef, you get the opportunity to progress in your career rather than stagnate as a cook.
Learn New Skills
There are abundant learning opportunities as a chef every day. If you are new to the culinary world, you can apply for an internship and learn from an expert. A good mentor can help you learn all the tips and tricks exclusive to a professional chef. You can also learn new cooking techniques and methods and how to substitute ingredients if one runs out.
Although formal education isn’t mandatory to become a good chef, it is certainly beneficial if you have a formal degree. Most top-tier hotels and restaurants prefer their candidates to have some kind of bachelor’s degree in culinary arts. You can earn a certificate from a culinary school and then focus on getting practical experience if you wish to work only in lavish five-star properties.
Meet New People
A chef needs to be responsible for the actions of his team members. So, they continuously need to communicate with the commies, line cooks, fellow chefs, and even the servers and dishwashers. A kitchen cannot run smoothly unless the chef can create a clear chain of command with the entire floor members.
So, being a chef allows you to socialise and communicate with a lot of people daily. Not to mention, when you are working in a premium property, you can meet influential people and celebrities frequently. You may also need to cook for your favourite actors or sports personalities if you are lucky.
Opportunity for Extra Income
Many eminent chefs have their own blogs and YouTube Channels. They post content on these mediums daily or weekly, and this can be a source of additional income besides your job as a chef. You can also start your own YouTube channel, give the audience an insight into a real commercial kitchen, share tips on your videos, and gradually monetise your channel once the viewership increases.
The culinary world is diverse, and there is no one-size-fits-all option to enter the professional world. You may want to set up your own bakery or compete in Masterchef; the options lie with you. But no matter what you choose, you can be assured that your journey will be much more dynamic, exciting and rewarding once you become a professional chef.