There are many paths to become a chef. Some people start by having an interest in cooking which they mainly explore at home, and others have long training in restaurants under the guidance of other chefs. Another route is to attend a culinary school, usually one recognized in your country by the culinary profession. These can help people learn everything from the basics of cooking to running a restaurant.
No matter which route you take, if you want to become a chef, you should be practicing cooking every chance you get. If you’ve developed this interest prior to finishing high school, take opportunities to cook at home and use some of the great programs on networks like The Food Channel, to give you ideas as to how to expand your cooking repertoire. Read cookbooks of famous chefs too, and also books that focus on cooking technique.
If you’re lucky some high schools have culinary arts departments, where you can learn even more about how to become a chef. Where this is unavailable, look for cooking classes in your community or try to get work in a restaurant. If you’re a good worker and express interest in becoming a chef, it’s likely plenty of your workmates will give you advice and opportunities to practice some of the skills you’ll need. It can also be helpful to work in a restaurant after leaving high school, especially if you need to save money to attend a culinary school.
Some colleges have culinary programs, but most culinary schools are private and costly. You also don’t usually exit a program and automatically take over a restaurant. You’ll still have to put in time as a line cook, sous chef or one of many chefs at a restaurant before you operate a full kitchen on your own. This work can be important for when you become the top chef of a restaurant, because it helps you understand the perspective of the people you will employ.
Some chefs own their own restaurants and others operate the back end or other aspects of food production in a restaurant. If you are looking toward someday having your own restaurant when you become a chef, it can be very helpful to understand the business, especially restaurant management. If your culinary school doesn’t offer such classes, most junior colleges do, and this is an excellent way to prepare to become a chef. Learning about how to successfully run a business and all the aspects of running a restaurant may give you greater chance of success in a highly competitive field.
Once you are a chef, continuing education is also fantastic. Food trends change, and many excellent chefs take time to study a particular cuisine that interest them or new food trends. Still, in most restaurants, having basic cookery technique is the vital first step when you want to become a chef. Start by learning the basics and then work up to specializing in special types of food you particularly enjoy preparing.