Looking to start your career as a chef? While it might be your automatic reaction to start applying to culinary schools, wait a moment. Have you considered applying for a chef apprenticeship? Apprenticeships are becoming more and more popular for chefs starting their career because it gives them first-hand experience. They get to work in a real-working kitchen and have the opportunity to watch their trained colleagues in action. There are many benefits of being a chef apprentice.
The benefits of starting your career as a chef apprentice rather than going to culinary school
1) Gives you industry experience
As an apprentice, you get the opportunity to work in the kitchen and see how different chefs work together. Cooking one meal course requires communication and teamwork from all chefs involved.
For example, the Meat Cook prepares and cooks the steak, the Saucier Chef oversees the sauce and a Vegetable Cook makes sure the vegetables are ready to be served.
Working in a kitchen with other chefs, lets you see how the process works. You can see how the Sous Chefs manage the teams and work with the Head Chef to make sure all the meals get out on time.
During your apprenticeship, you will learn how the industry works and this knowledge will be key in carving your career.
2) Learn from other chefs
What's one of the best ways to learn to be a chef? Learning from the masters themselves. As an apprentice, you'll be working beside other chefs. Some of them will probably have been an apprentice chef before. Working next to other chefs gives you the opportunity to watch, learn and ask questions. These chefs will be able to give you insider tips on cooking techniques, career advice and valuable skills.
Working shadowing these chefs will show you what it's really like as a line of work.
While working as an apprentice chef, you could be working under one chef most of the time or work in different work stations throughout your apprenticeship. Cooking with different chefs will help you decide which career path you want to take. If you want to become a specialist chef, you can complete a specialist culinary course in the future.
3) Real taster of what it's like to be a chef
Along with industry experience, you can get a real taste of what it's like to be a chef as an apprentice.
It gives you the chance to determine whether this is the job for you. It takes years of commitment and training to be a chef, you wouldn't want to pay thousands to go to culinary school and discover you don't actually want to be a chef.
4) Earn and work
One of the benefits of a chef apprenticeship is the fact you can work and earn at the same time. True, the pay is lower than a skilled chef but it's better than going to culinary school without an income.
If you have an expensive commute to get to work or want to pay for cooking courses in the future, your apprenticeship will help cover the cost.
Working as an apprentice chef puts you in the kitchen where you can talk and get to know all the chefs in the restaurant. Showing you're a hard worker and eager to learn, will increase your odds of being hired as a trained chef after your apprenticeship ends.
Networking with other chefs and building good relationships will also open career opportunities in the future.
Being a chef means being part of a close-knit community. If your colleagues have good things to say about you, this could be heard by an employer who is looking for a chef with skills and experience like yours.
6) Valuable work experience
Overall, apprentice chefs receive valuable work experience and that's what employers are looking for.
If you've only been to culinary school but you don't have any experience of working in a restaurant kitchen, your job application won't stand out from the crowd. Employers want new chefs to have some experience of working in a kitchen before they start.
As a chef apprentice, you will have a good understanding of how the kitchen works, you will be able to follow recipes and know the important health and safety regulations in a kitchen. Safety is crucial when working in a busy kitchen that has plenty of potential hazards.
Want to be an apprentice chef?
In the UK, there are schemes and guidance available to help you get a culinary apprenticeship.
The Correct Chef Uniform
As a chef apprentice, you'll be expected to dress the part. Here is the chef uniform guide and don't forget your slip-resistant chef shoes. Visit our shop to see the styles of shoes we have for chefs:
Ready to start your career as a chef? Here is the Complete Guide To Chef Jobs
There are many chef jobs available but they all require certain skills and experiences. Our guide details everything you need to know about each chef role and what salary expectations they have. This is the essential book for your career and it's free: