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Helping you find a career as a Chef

A chef is responsible for preparing a variety of high-quality foods and dishes for restaurants and bars, and doing so under a variety of pressures including time and heat, all whilst constantly maintaining a high quality of service. Chefs work at different levels - commis chef, chef de partie, sous chef, and head chef.


What does a Chef do?
Chefs have a variety of roles and responsibilities, some of which include:

- Preparation, cooking, and service of quality food on time
- Coordination of sections of a kitchen, such as sauces or fish
- Being responsible for the consistent quality of the dishes
- Assisting other chefs in the development of new dishes and menus
- Overseeing the daily running of the kitchen, both in terms of budgets and production
- Ensuring hygiene regulations are adhered to
What skills and interests should an Chef have?
A chef will need a variety of skills and interests. The most obvious interest is, of course, a love of food, which encompasses a great depth of knowledge about varieties of food as well as skill in its preparation.

Additionally, a chef will need to have a good understanding of kitchen procedures, such as hygiene and safety regulations. They will need to be able to work under pressure on their own as well as being part of a tight-knit team, and be willing to take instructions as well as give them. Language skills will also be beneficial, particularly in French or Spanish.
What hours does a Chef typically do?
Working hours can vary greatly depending on your role and setting. You may be required to work unsociable and lengthy hours at weekends, evenings or public holidays. The standard working hours of a chef is 40 hours a week.
What environment is a Chef based in?
Chefs are based in kitchens, but these can be in a variety of places - in restaurants, pubs, hotels, cruise ships, armed forces or in contract catering, for example.
How much does a Chef travel?
Although many chefs are based in a restaurant or bar, some may be employed by cruise operators or be on catering contracts, which means they may be required to travel around countries or internationally in order to work. The option of travel opportunities is highly dependent on your employer - some chefs may spend their lives travelling, others may never at all.
How much does a Chef get paid?
Depending on what type of chef you are, your experience, and where you are based, salaries can range very greatly. A typical starting salary for a commis chef is between £12,000 and £16,000. More experienced chefs can earn between £20,000 and £30,000, whereas head chefs can expect salaries of £55,000.
Perks & benefits
As a kitchen is run in a hierarchical manner, opportunities for promotion to the head and executive levels are always on the table. Years of experience may bring you strong job prospects, industry recognition, and even fame.
What qualifications does a Chef need?
There is no direct route to becoming a chef, although HNDs and degrees related to the sector will be beneficial in your application. Placements in kitchens can give you valuable experience. Some restaurants may recruit those on placements due to the close hand experience they have accumulated.

Aside from a love and understanding of food, work experience in a bar or restaurant will be helpful for your employment opportunities and for gaining experience and understanding of the day-to-day pressures a chef faces. Experience in some areas of the sector may prove challenging to come by, so you may want to consider an apprenticeship.
Useful subjects to study at school & university
Many graduate schemes will consider applications with a good standard degree (usually a 2:1 or higher) in a range of subjects from professional cookery to culinary arts, and as mentioned above, languages.
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