Chef

BY:Shari Ladd

What does it take to be a chef?

In addition to years of training and professional experience, chefs must exhibit strong interpersonal and leadership skills. They are responsible for managing and inspiring an entire kitchen staff and motivating them to work efficiently without sacrificing quality. Chefs also undergo training in operating a business, maintaining an inventory of a kitchen, buying kitchen supplies and managing accounts.

Chef's requirments

Required training for chef jobs varies depending on position. Executive chefs, head chefs, chef managers and chef de cuisines, are generally the most skilled cooks in the restaurant or dining establishment. These roles are responsible for developing new recipes as well as for directing kitchen staff, preparing cost estimates for food and supplies, inventory management and setting schedules. Most Chefs have extensive prior experience in food service or the hospitality industry. The majority also have postsecondary training in culinary arts. However, line cooks, prep cooks and sous chefs may work their way up to higher level chef positions over time. Many often get their start as an apprentice chef or trainee chef through an official apprenticeship program.

A head chef or head cook is the kitchen boss. He or she not only has to be able to cook food and lead a team of kitchen workers but also has to figure out how much food will be needed for the week and order food and supplies. Yes, that means there will be math involved. At some restaurants, head chefs create the restaurant's menu and adjust it depending on the seasonality or availability of food - so being able to cook amazing dishes from scratch is a must.

As fun as that might sound, being a chef is not all glitz and glamour. Chefs and cooks work in a potentially dangerous environment and spend most of their time covered from head to toe in whatever food they happen to be cooking. That means if you end up at a seafood restaurant, you'd better get used to smelling like old shrimp. You'll also be doing more than just cooking - you'll be cleaning and disinfecting many of the items you work with, including grills, fryers and counter surfaces. It's messy work, but someone has to do it.

The hours can be brutal as well. As a chef, you'll be working weekends, early mornings, late evenings and holidays. Almost 33 percent of chefs and cooks work part time.