How to Become a Chef in 5 Simple Steps

0

What is a Chef?

The word chef comes from the French phrase “chef de cuisine”, that means “head” or “chief” of the kitchen. Continue reading and learn how to become a chef.

A chef is a trained professional who has to prepare, cook and present a wide variety of dishes always according to the industry standards.

The daily duties of a chef include:

  • Preparing the food
  • Training cooking stuff
  • Creating a menu
  • Inspecting the quality of the food
  • Ordering food supplies
  • Managing cooking staff
  • Putting prices on the dishes
  • Making sure food is ready on time

Aspiring chefs need to have the ability to multitask as they will be doing different works at the same time, like cooking more than two different foods at once.

They also need to be able to work under a lot of pressure as they have to prepare dishes in a really small timeframe after the client orders something.

Chefs work mostly at restaurants and hotels but they can also work as private chefs at houses and cruise boats.

Chefs’ schedules at restaurants and hotels is pretty demanding. They are working long hours early in the morning and late evenings when people go to breakfast and dinner. They also work weekends and holidays as these are the days that most people go to the restaurants.

Chefs’ ranking system

Commis Chef

This is the first rank for a chef at larger kitchens. They are mostly interns or chefs that recently graduated a culinary school. They work under the chef de partie and they learn the station’s basic operations and responsibilities.

Chef de Partie

Also known as “line cook” or “station cook” are responsible for a single station (area of production). In larger kitchens they have several comis chefs under them.

Sous Chef

The Sous-chef de cuisine is the second in hierarchy in a kitchen under the head chef.

They have a lot of responsibilities like: having the kitchen organized and clean and train and manage the entire stuff.

They also carry the chef’s directives by inspecting the stations and making sure everything is working fine. When the head chef is absent sous chefs are responsible for the normal function of the kitchen.

Head Chef

Chef de cuisine is the no1 in the hierarchy ladder and has more organizational duties. Their job is to create a menu order inventories and food supplies, manage kitchen stuff and design the plating.
Find a School
What is a Chef

Becoming a Chef

Step 1: High School Preparation

High School Courses for Chefs

Cooking and food preparation

If your high school offers cooking classes make sure to take them.

You will learn basic cooking techniques like boiling, grilling and barbeque food, and how to avoid to overcook or undercook your food.

You will also learn basic kitchen sanity and how to handle meat and vegetables in the same kitchen.

Chemistry and biology

Biology will help you a lot to your work. As a chef as you will learn about viruses and gems and how to avoid them in the kitchen.

Chemistry will be really helpful as you will learn about the substances of foods and how they react with each other. If you plan following molecular gastronomy make sure to take chemistry classes.

Business administration

Even if you don’t plan to open your own restaurant you should consider taking this class. As a head chef you will have to organize kitchen staff, order the necessary food and equipment and put prices on the dishes. Basic business administration knowledge will make your life easier for sure.

Step 2: Get Professional Culinary Training

Culinary Arts Certificate Program 1 year

Culinary arts certificate program is a 30- 40 semester credit hours program that can be mostly completed on-campus as there are a lot of practical courses.

It is relatively easy to get accepted to a program like that as you will only need a high school diploma or a GED.

Curriculum

  • Culinary Fundamentals
  • Ingredients and Techniques of Fabrication
  • Introduction to À la Carte Cooking
  • Contemporary Topics in Culinary Arts
  • Cuisines and Cultures of Asia
  • Cuisines and Cultures of the Mediterranean
  • Baking and Pastry Skill Development
  • Cuisines and Cultures of the Americas
  • Garde Manger
  • Safety and Sanitation
  • Purchasing
  • Professional Cooking I
  • Professional Healthy Cooking
  • Professional Cooking II
  • Professional Cooking III

The cost of a culinary arts certificate program is relatively low and ranges from $3,500 to $32,000.

When deciding which college or university to attend, we strongly recommend contacting them for further information and details.

Click the button below to get free info about accredited culinary certificate programs near you.
Find a School

Culinary Arts Associate’s Degree Program 2 years

These are 62 to 95 semester credit hours programs that can be completed mostly on campus.

It is relatively easy to get accepted to a program like that as you will only need only a high school diploma or a GED.

A typical curriculum of a culinary arts associate’s degree program will look like:

General Education Requirements (38 credits)

  • English Composition
  • Nutrition
  • College Mathematics
  • General Psychology
  • Public Speaking
  • Art History I
  • Art History II
  • S. History I
  • S. History II
  • World Civilizations I
  • World Civilizations II
  • College Writing
  • Introduction to Integrative Studies
  • Principles of Computer Applications
  • Quantitative Literacy or Statistics I
  • Effective Communication Skills
  • Spanish

Core Courses (59 credits)

  • Fundamentals of Classical Techniques
  • Concepts and Theories of Culinary Techniques
  • Management by Menu
  • Sustainable Purchasing and Controlling Costs
  • American Regional Cuisine
  • Latin Cuisine
  • Garde Manger
  • Management, Supervision and Career Development
  • Asian Cuisine
  • Introduction to Pastry Techniques and Baking
  • Food and Beverage Operations Management
  • À La Carte Kitchen
  • Art Culinaire
  • Classical European Cuisines
  • World Cuisine
  • Nutrition
  • Product Knowledge
  • Meat Identification, Fabrication, and Utilization
  • Introduction to Management
  • Modern Banquet Cookery
  • Seafood Identification and Fabrication
  • Non-Commercial Foodservice and High-Volume Production
  • Introduction to À la Carte Cooking
  • College Writing or College Writing for ELLs
  • Controlling Costs and Purchasing Food
  • Cuisines and Cultures of the Americas
  • Cuisines and Cultures of Asia
  • Cuisines and Cultures of the Mediterranean
  • Introduction to Catering: Hospitality and Service Management
  • Menu Development
  • Contemporary Restaurant Cooking
  • Contemporary Hospitality and Service Management
  • Formal Restaurant Cooking
  • Costing Examination

The cost of a culinary arts associate’s degree program ranges from $32,500 to $80,000.

When deciding which college or university to attend, we strongly recommend contacting them for further information and details.

Click the button below to get free info about accredited culinary arts associate’s degree programs near you.
Find a School

Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts Degree Program 4 years

Bachelors in culinary arts degree programs are 60 to 180 semester credit hours programs that can be completed mostly on-campus.

It is fairly easy to get accepted to a program like that as you will probably need only a high school diploma. Some universities maybe require you to pass an in house exam in order to get accepted.

A typical curriculum of a Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts degree program will look like this:

General Education Requirements (38 credits)

  • Principles of Ethics
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Current Topics in Humanities I
  • Mathematics
  • Fundamentals of Mathematics
  • College Algebra
  • Current Topics in Mathematics
  • Science
  • General Science
  • Microbiology
  • Current Topics in Science
  • Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Current Topics in Psychology
  • College Composition
  • Current Topics in English
  • English Literature or Composition
  • General Psychology
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biology
  • Introductory Nutrition1
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Speech Communication or Public Speaking

Core Courses (65 Credits)

  • First Year Experience
  • Foundations of Professional Cooking
  • Nutrition Application
  • Purchasing
  • Sanitation
  • Information, Technology, and Society
  • Careers in Hospitality
  • Menu Planning and Cost Control
  • Professional Service
  • Introductory Baking
  • Foundations of Food Production and Preparation
  • Hospitality Beverage Management Service and Controls
  • Principles of Management
  • Facilities Planning
  • Garde Manger (Advanced)
  • American Cuisine (Regional)
  • Catering
  • Classical Cuisines
  • Technical and Professional Communication
  • Diet Application and Therapy
  • Legal Applications and Issues in Hospitality
  • Hospitality Systems Management
  • Training in Culinary Leadership
  • International Field Experience Elective
  • First Aid, Responding to Emergencies
  • Culinary Arts & Systems Internship
  • Wines of the World
  • Meat and Seafood Fabrication
  • Historical Culinary Perspectives
  • Baking and Pastry Applications for Culinary Lecture
  • Baking and Pastry Applications for Culinary Lab
  • Culinary Competition and Skills Assessment
  • Culinary Senior Project

Electives

  • Cakes and Decorations
  • Principles of Chocolate Works
  • Sugar Art
  • Introduction to the Modernist Kitchen
  • Exploring the World of Cheese
  • Advanced Breads
  • Introduction to Lagers and Ales
  • Artistic Buffet Decoration
  • Accommodation Operations
  • Convention & Banquet Sales
  • Entertainment Management

The cost of a culinary arts bachelor’s degree ranges from $62,000 to $120,000.

When deciding which college or university to attend, we strongly recommend contacting them for further information and details.

Click the button below to get free info about accredited culinary arts bachelor’s degree programs near you.
Find a School

Step 3: Get a graduate’s degree (Optional)

Master of food science degree program 1 – 2 years

The master of food science degree programs are 40 to 45 semester credit hours programs that can be completed either on- campus or online.

These programs offer an in depth understanding of the food examining the chemical substances of foods and how they react with each other.

In order to get accepted to a master of food science program you will need a bachelorette degree related to chemistry, biology or physics.

This master’s degree is mostly addressed to those who want to pursue an academic career.

A typical curriculum of a master’s of food science degree will look like:

Required Courses (19 credits)

  • Contemporary Issues in Food Studies
  • Food Systems
  • Food Policy and Politics
  • Food and Agricultural Policy
  • Food and Culture
  • Nutrition in Food Studies
  • Global Food Cultures
  • Current Research in Food Studies
  • Research Applications

Electives (21 Credits)

Policy & Advocacy

  • Food and Agricultural Policy
  • Food Legislation, Regulations & Enforcement
  • Food Advocacy
  • Advanced Topics in Food Systems
  • Economics of Food I: Consumer Behavior
  • Economics of Food II: Strategic Firm Behaviors 3
  • Basic Statistics
  • Writing Grants and Fund Proposals
  • Water, Waste, and the Urban Environment
  • Sustainability on the East End
  • Global Food Culture: New Orleans or Puerto Rico
  • International Food Regulation
  • Global Food Culture: Puebla, Mexico or Paris
  • Hunger and Food Security in a Global Perspective: Accra, Ghana

Business & Social Entrepreneurship

  • Food Entrepreneurship
  • Economics of Food I: Consumer Behaviors
  • Economics of Food II: Strategic Firm Behaviors
  • Food and Finance
  • Foundations of Social Entrepreneurship
  • Business Start-Up Practicum
  • New Product Development
  • Marketing

Media & Cultural Analysis

  • Food History
  • Comparative Cuisines
  • Food Writing
  • Theoretical Perspectives in Food Culture
  • Food and Media
  • Global Food Cultures
  • Field Trips in Food
  • Food Photography
  • Food and Culture: New Orleans
  • Anthropology of Food
  • Food and Gender

Additional Electives

  • Food History
  • Field Trips in Foods
  • Beverages
  • Urban Agriculture Planning and Implementation
  • Techniques of Regional Cuisine
  • Independent Study (requires permission and approval)
  • Advanced Topics in Food Studies
  • Global Food Cultures: Hong Kong, Puebla Mexico, Paris, Puerto Rico
  • Food and Agricultural Policy
  • Contemporary Issues
  • Culinary Physics
  • Advanced Topics in Food Systems
  • Food and Gender

The cost of a master’s of food science degree ranges from $15,000 to $38,000.

When deciding which college or university to attend, we strongly recommend contacting them for further information and details.

Click the button below to get free info about accredited master’s of food science degree programs near you.
Find a School

Step 4: Complete an apprenticeship or internship

Studying in an accredited culinary school is a big part of your journey when becoming a chef but the most important one is getting working experience.

It is really important when deciding which culinary school you will attend to ask if they have internship or apprenticeship programs available.

If you did the mistake and joined a culinary school that doesn’t offer an internship or apprenticeship program don’t get desperate.

The American Culinary Federation offers apprenticeship programs that last 2-3 years and you will have the chance to get plenty of experience.

Step 5: Become Certified

While getting certified is not obligatory in the US it will give you an advantage when job hunting.

The most prestigious organization offering certification is (ACF) American Culinary Federation that offers more than 14 different certifications in 5 areas:

Cooking Professionals

(CC®) — Certified Culinarian®

Requirements

2 years of working experience as a culinarian in the last 10 years.

High school diploma/GED

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test.

Pass a two and a half hour practice test

Cost: $75 (members) $110 (non-members)

(CSC®) — Certified Sous Chef®

Requirements

5 years of working experience as a culinarian in the last 10 years.

High school diploma/GED

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

50 hours of continuing education.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 ½ hours.

Pass a two hours practice test

Cost: $145 (members) $245 (non-members)

(CCC®) — Certified Chef de Cuisine®

Requirements

3 years of working experience as a sous chef or chef de partie in the last 10 years.

High school diploma/GED

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

100 hours of continuing education.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 hour.

Pass a three hours practice test

Cost: $165 (members) $265 (non-members)

 (CEC®) — Certified Executive Chef®

Requirements

3 years of working experience as a Chef de Cuisine or an Executive Sous Chef in the last 10 years.

High school diploma/GED

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

150 hours of continuing education.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 ½ hour.

Pass a three hours practice test

Cost: $235 (members) $335 (non-members)

 (CMC®) — Certified Master Chef®

Requirements

Be already certified as a Culinary Educator or an Executive Chef

2 letters of recommendation from 2 Certified Master Chefs

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 ½ hour.

Pass a three hours practice test

Cost: $3,800

 

 Personal Cooking Professionals

(PCC™) — Personal Certified Chef™

Requirements

3 years of working experience as a as a culinarian and one year as a private chef in the last 10 years.

High school diploma/GED

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

50 hours of continuing education.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 hour.

Pass a three hours practice test

Cost: $145 (members) $245 (non-members)

(PCEC™) — Personal Certified Executive Chef™

Requirements

3 years of working experience as a as a Personal Chef in the last 10 years.

High school diploma/GED

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

150 hours of continuing education.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 hour.

Pass a four hours practice test

Cost: $235 (members) $335 (non-members)

 

Baking and Pastry Professionals

(CPC®) — Certified Pastry Culinarian®

Requirements

2 years of working experience as a as a pastry culinarianin the last 10 years.

High school diploma/GED

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 hour.

Pass a three hours practice test

Cost: $75 (members) $110 (non-members)

(CWPC®) — Certified Working Pastry Chef®

Requirements

5 years of working experience as a as a pastry culinarian in the last 10 years.

High school diploma/GED

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

50 hours of continuing education.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 hour.

Pass a four hours practice test

Cost: $145 (members) $245 (non-members)

(CEPC®) — Certified Executive Pastry Chef®

Requirements

3 years of working experience as a as a Pastry Chef in the last 10 years.

High school diploma/GED

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

150 hours of continuing education.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 ½ hours.

Pass a four hours practice test

Cost: $235 (members) $335 (non-members)

 (CMPC®) — Certified Master Pastry Chef®

Requirements

Be already certified as a Culinary Educator or an Executive Pastry Chef

2 letters of recommendation from 2 Certified Master Pastry Chefs

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 ½ hours.

Pass a four hours practice test

Cost: $ $3,300.

 

Culinary Administrators

(CCA®) — Certified Culinary Administrator®

Requirements

3 years of working experience as a as an Executive Chef in the last 10 years.

Be already certified as an Executive Chef or an Executive Pastry Chef

High school diploma/GED

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

150 hours of continuing education.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 ½ hours.

Cost: $275 (members) $375 (non-members)

 

Culinary Educators

(CSCE®) — Certified Secondary Culinary Educator®

Requirements

1200 hours of working experience as a secondary teacher in the last 10 years.

Bachelor’s degree +120 hours in education development

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 ½ hours.

Pass a four hours practical test

Cost: $165 (members) $265 (non-members)

(CCE®) — Certified Culinary Educator®

Requirements

3 years of working experience as a as Chef de Cuisine in the last 10 years

Bachelor’s degree +120 hours in education development

Complete three thirty hours courses in Nutrition, in Supervisory Management, and in Food Safety and Sanitation.

Examination

Pass a 100 multiple question written test in 1 ½ hours.

Pass a three hours practical test

Cost: $235 (members) $335 (non-members)

How Long Does it take to Become a Chef and How Much  does it Cost?

Option 1: Certificate

Degree Time Cost
Certificate 1 year$3,500- $32,000
Certification 1 month$75 - $245
Total 1 year$3,575 - $32,245

Option 2: Associate’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Associates Degree2 years$32,500 - $80,000
Certification 1 month$75 - $245
Total 2 years & 1 month $32,575 - $80,245

Option 3: Bachelor’s Degree

Degree Time Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$62,000 - $120,000
Certification 1 month $75 - $245
Total 4 years & 1 month$62,075 - $120,245

Option 4: Master’s Degree

DegreeTime Cost
Bachelor’s 4 years$62,000 to $120,000
Master's2 years$15,000 - $38,000
Certification1 month $75 - $245
Total6 years $77, 075 - $158, 245

Chef Training Video

Find a School


Share.

Leave A Reply