Who's a Chef?
Do you enjoy food – especially experimenting with it? Do you like to throw in a bunch of ingredients and try to whip up something new? Does the idea of people eating the food you cook and enjoy themselves make you sizzle with excitement? If yes, consider becoming a chef!
As a chef, you’re going to have a lot of responsibilities on your plate, depending on where you work. Of course, a kitchen is your main workspace, but it could be a tiny commercial kitchen or a giant one capable of cooking up meals for thousands! Your day-to-day work would include cooking various dishes from your menu and working on new recipes to keep the excitement growing.
What will you do?
Planning the menu
You would be responsible for curating the menu of a restaurant. This would include introducing new food concepts and recipes that would help the restaurant create a niche in the industry.
Example: If you’ve learnt how to prepare some international cuisines, you could either create a menu for those dishes, or you could also create a menu with international dishes with an Indian twist to them.
Preparing delicious meals.
As the chef, you will have to cook or oversee the cooking of the various recipes from your menu. You would also have to add new items or twists to your menu to ensure your visitors keep coming back for more and don’t get bored.
Example: You could keep your menu flexible and add new dishes depending on different special occasions like Christmas or Diwali or plan your menu with daily breakfast specials.
Managing the kitchen
Chefs determine schedules and staff requirements to ensure timely delivery of services. It is their job to estimate the amounts and cost required for the supply of food and ingredients. They also instruct cooks in preparation, cooking, garnishing, and presentation of food.
Example: You would make sure that the ingredients – vegetables, spices, meat – your restaurant needs on a daily basis are delivered on time and that the vessels needed are cleaned and kept ready for use.
Training junior chefs.
You would have to train, develop and motivate junior chefs to meet and exceed food preparation standards. You would be training them to prepare dishes as per the defined recipes and set performance standards.
Example: Other than making sure that the food prepared is up to the mark, you would also train junior chefs to better their presentation skills.
Conducting quality checks
From the supplies you need to prepare the food, to the final meal being served, you must ensure that everything is of the highest quality and up to your restaurant’s standards.
Example: When your supplier brings in the bread in the mornings, you will have to ensure that you’re provided with the best quality of bread. And when it comes to checking prepared meals, you will have to ensure uniformity in portions.
Analysing recipes to assign prices
You will have to determine the cost you set for each meal. This would be based on more than just ingredient costs but also preparation and overhead costs such as electricity, maintenance, rent, etc.
Example: If your restaurant does not offer seating arrangement, your food prices would be based on the ingredients used, the labour that went into preparing it and probably costs for packing the food up.
Ensuring the best sanitation practices
You must ensure that your kitchen adheres to the best safety regulations and standards. Your kitchen should follow all the standard rules and regulations for safety, hygiene and sanitation.
Example: You would ensure that your restaurant has fire extinguishers installed at several points across the restaurant especially near the kitchen.
Engaging with customers
You need to know whether your food is being well-received or not. For this, you must interact with your customers and take feedback from them. Not just about meals, you must also talk to your customers about whether they found the ambience pleasing, and if they were satisfied with the service.
Example: If you have tried out a new recipe, you must make it a point to check in with customers who have tried it to understand what they thought of it. taking their feedback.
Take the Mentoria career assessment test, to find out how well-suited you are as a Chef.
Where will you work?
Most chefs work at a restaurant. Depending on the restaurant management’s protocol, you would have to follow a strict dress code, or you can show up at work in casuals. You may work in shifts, but sometimes during festivals or any celebration at the restaurant, you would have to extend your work hours.
If you own a catering service, you would most probably work from a place where you’ve set up your kitchen - work station. You may have to complete big orders from time to time so you would be working along with a couple of chefs here.
As a consultant chef, you would work from home or work out of a restaurant you are consulting. Being a consultant chef, you would be training the staff, curating the menu, analyse food cost, labour cost, etc. With your large experience in the field, you would mostly be assisting newly set up restaurants or hotels.
How do you get there?
What skills would you need?
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Attention to Detail
Working with eggs and embryos is a very tedious task. Every little detail matters when you are observing them. If you are good at giving attention to detail, then your job at the laboratory will be made much easier.build this skill
Patients will be coming to you with different issues with fertility. You must be able to assess their problem, analyse the reason and work on coming up with a solution.build this skill
You will be working on a lot of cool projects and will be meeting a lot of potential clients and customers on the job. And so, a big part of your job will involve interacting with these people. You could be great at coming up with ideas, but that is only one part of your job. You will need to talk and meet people, build a rapport with them, to establish your credibility. Especially if you’re a freelancer, you will need to have certain social skills.build this skill
How do you make it to the top ranks?
Pursuing your career locally VS overseas
The food industry all over the globe is growing and this can be seen in India as well. The trend of eating out has become quite popular and has resulted in many chefs starting their own restaurants or food delivery services. If you study culinary in India, it becomes easier for you to build a network and understand the market here. With a lot of new restaurants setting up, there is a huge demand for chefs in India. Additionally, studying culinary in India would help you understand the likes and dislikes of people here and would help you set up your own restaurant.
You can opt to do a course in culinary arts from top Indian colleges such as Culinary Academy of India, International Institute of Culinary Arts, College of Hospitality and Tourism (New Delhi), etc. Opt to do a Bachelor’s in the field from top hotel management institutes in India. Studying culinary in India would cost you an average of INR 75,000-INR 5,00,000 depending on the institute you opt for. The duration of these courses mostly ranges from three to four years. Alternatively, you can also join culinary classes in your vicinity.
If you wish to do a culinary course outside the country, then you can always look for job opportunities in the country you are studying in. There are many culinary schools abroad that offer you specialisations in different cuisines. Studying culinary abroad introduces you to global cuisines and gives you a chance to build a good network with people from all over the world. These courses also offer you advanced training and education that help you excel in the field. However, you must note that most culinary programmes abroad require you to have a certain amount of experience before you enrol with them. A culinary course abroad would cost you anywhere between INR 5,00,000-25,00,000 depending on the university you want to get into. The duration of the culinary course abroad is usually one to four years.
How much would you get paid?
The exact number will depend on where you’re working, your education, skill-set and internship experience. But we can give you a general idea.
What are your career options?
A bartender is an individual who prepares drinks for customers and manages the bar. You would try out different mixes and recipes to come up with new drinks or seasonal offerings for your customers. You would typically work at a bar, restaurant or any licensed establishment where you would serve alcoholic or non-alcoholic mixes to the customers. To create a buzz around the bar, you could also pick up on some tricks like juggling and flipping bottles to entertain the audiences.
A food writer is someone who is highly aware of different types of cuisines and ingredients. With many food-based app services and startups setting up, food writers are in huge demand. You would typically write for publications such as newspapers, magazines or digital websites. Your job would revolve around writing about various cooking concepts, recipes, interviewing food experts, reviewing restaurants and dishes, etc. A degree in English Literature or Mass Communication would come in handy here.
Bakers perform the same task as that of a chef in the kitchen. Except, your work would mostly require the use of ovens for cooking. You would mostly work at a bakery, cafe or a restaurant, whipping up delicious cakes, pastries, macaroons, brownies, etc. With the rise in healthy eating habits among the masses, the demand for baked products is increasing and you could specialise in the preparation of baked and wholesome meals. It would also benefit you to learn different styles of icing and decorating the products you’ve baked.
Instead of just taking over the role of managing the kitchen, food service managers manage the whole restaurant. Right from hiring the staff to looking after customer requirements, complaints. managing the budget preparing the menu, food service manager does it all. You would act as the face of the restaurant and be responsible for the business. One of your primary jobs would be to ensuring the food being prepared is following the safety regulations and that the meals are being prepared and served in a timely manner.
A food scientist studies the microbiological, physical and chemical properties of food to ensure that its ingredients and chemical properties are safe to consume. You would evaluate the nutritional value, colour and flavour of the food. And be responsible to ensure that the food manufacturing process conforms to the set standards by the government. Your job would also involve exploring alternative manufacturing methods. You would need to have a degree in food science to get into this field. One such degree is Bachelor of Science in Food Sciences.
A certified culinary individual can take up the job of a culinary teacher. You would work in an educational institute or run an online or offline programme to guide aspiring chefs with regards to the nuances of the culinary field. You would mainly help students with kitchen settings, station positioning, food styles and more.
A food blogger is an individual possessing good knowledge of food writing and photography. Food bloggers operate a blog that gives people insights into all the latest food trends, restaurants, food concepts, etc. As a food blogger, you would conduct restaurant reviews and cover food launch events. This field is in high demand, especially in today’s influencer-driven culture. So, make sure you have a decent following on social media platforms, and regularly publish relevant content. A diploma in food photography and mass communication would come in handy for this field.
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