In most kitchens a chef is an extremely skilled tradesman and trained professional cook who are highly skilled in all facets of cooking, most often concentrating on a certain cuisine. The word ‘chef’ is actually derived from the word chef de cuisine which, at one time, meant the head or director of a large kitchen. Today it is used to describe a number of different people who specialise in a number of different areas, ranging from baking, preparing meals for restaurants, catering for private parties and social gatherings, and so on. There are also chefs who are responsible for the management of various commercial kitchens and catering services.
The main role of the chef is to prepare a specific dish which has been made for a particular occasion. These usually include some of the most sought after delicacies such as chocolate desserts, Italian restaurants, Chinese cuisines and so on. Some chefs also specialize in one or two types of cuisine; for example, if a chef is very skilled in Greek food then they may well specialise in Greek cooking, or French chefs who specialise in French cuisine.
Culinary arts are very popular with both professionals and amateurs. Many chefs have degrees in either cooking arts or hospitality management. They may specialise in cooking courses and so forth, depending on the extent of their knowledge, experience and skills.
A person wishing to become a chef can complete a formal culinary training program, which will allow them to work towards certification, and may even provide a specific training program for chefs. This can often take several years and is often very intensive, and therefore requires a commitment to a full-time course as well as a regular, daily job.
For those wishing to follow a culinary arts career there are two main routes. One is by becoming a hotel, restaurant or catering business consultant, and the other is through the establishment of your own individual chef’s services. Hotel and catering businesses generally use staff to provide services, but can also employ their own chefs to train in a culinary arts degree program. On the other hand, many individuals will set up their own personal chef’s service, and in this case you will need to train in many different aspects of the field in order to become a successful entrepreneur.
As with all careers in the chef’s industry, there are a few risks associated with being a chef. Many will require you to be self-employed and therefore may not provide employment security and job security, while others will be run by a franchise system, meaning you work for a particular company for a certain period of time, and then become their employee of the company. You may find that this is the most stable and rewarding career, particularly if you are talented and are passionate about your career and like to share what you know.
The food industry has always been a major global market, and is growing rapidly. You could potentially set up your own food franchise or a successful restaurant, with the potential for it to expand to cater for international markets.
If you are thinking about a career in the culinary arts then there are a few things you should bear in mind before taking the plunge. First, find out what qualifications you may need and how much experience you may need. Secondly, learn to deal with customer service, as this is an area where a lot of stress is involved. Thirdly, find out how the industry works and what type of training is required, and then choose a company that best suits your interests.