The joy of seeing a restaurant full of people enjoying your food. Having people coming back time and time again to sample a menu that you put together with love and painstaking care. The camaraderie that comes from pulling off a flawless, peak time service to the highest possible standard. Maybe just the simple love of cooking.
These are just a few of the reasons that it is such a popular career choice, but how long does it take to be a chef?
The short answer is 4 years, but there is more to it than that.
Here at Shoes For Crews (Europe) Ltd, we have put together a breakdown of how long you can expect it to take, as well as a little about what qualifications you need to be a chef to give you an idea of what it takes to become a true professional; from commis chef to a famous chefs de cuisine.
Work Experience - ongoing
First of all, you have probably been in the kitchen at home since an early age, you may have been working waiting on whilst at school, but you are going to need some experience in a professional kitchen.
This is due to three reasons. You need relevant work experience on your C.V. and the sooner you can start the better. You also need to establish contacts within the industry so you can start earning a reputation. Finally, you also will find that there is often no substitute for real life, hands on experience, especially when it comes to learning such a prestigious skill.
If you can find the right kitchen, you can begin work as a trainee (commis) chef with relatively no experience. Once this happens, you will benefit from attending some form of cookery school.
Colleges and Universities - 1 - 5 years
Entry Level Certificates
Up to 3 Levels available
1 Year per course of study, part-time
There are a range of qualifications available for people with no formal cooking qualifications or experience at all. Many colleges offer Entry Level City & Guild Certificates in Food Studies and Hospitality.
If you are still at school, this kind of content will be covered on a GCSE course and can be covered via work experience. They are not wholly necessary.
Courses are free if you are aged 16 - 18 but there is typically a fee of up to £500 if you are 19 or above.
Up to 3 Levels available, offering access to Degree level
1 Year per course of study, part-time
These courses are aimed at those with some industry experience or relevant GCSE qualifications. Either of these will allow you to enter at Level 2, therefore reducing your time of study to a couple of years.
Studying a couple of days a week (typically), you will also be expected to work in a kitchen. Especially if you are aged 19 or above and would need to cover the £1500+ tuition fees for Level 2.
From September 2016, a Level 3 NVQ for “Professional Chefs” and in “Professional Cookery” are being made available. Level 3 is the equivalent of A Level and would open up the possibility of University.
BA and BSc with Honours
Between 1 - 4 years, depending on the course and university, full-time study with placements
A large collection of universities offer Culinary Arts and other associated degree courses, all across the country. You will learn about working in the kitchen as well as management responsibilities.
To be qualified to this level should take a minimum of 4 years.
Cookery Schools - ongoing
So, how long it takes become a "chef" depends on yourself. Whether you want to be section chef (chefs de partie), a head chef (chefs de cuisine) of your own small kitchen or a second chef (sous chef) at a large, fine dining establishment, it's up to you.
The truth is, if you want to be a renknowned chefs de partie, the process is never ending.
From the prestigous Leiths School of Food and Wine or Le Cordon Bleu, to workshops with Michelin star or celebrity chefs, continuous development of your skills, tastes and menus will be a must if you want to remain a chef.
Interested in becoming a chef?
We've created a guide that details every single chef job in the industry, from commis chef to head chef, you can see what responsibilities each chef has, salary expectations and more. It's excellent for people wanting to become chefs or chefs who are trying to plan their future career. Download your free copy: