What does a Culinary Chef do?

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What is a Culinary Chef?

A culinary chef is someone who is in the profession of preparing, cooking and presenting food. A chef can also be very innovative with food, creating new dishes, deciding what the specials of the day will be, and putting together an exciting menu. Some examples of a culinary chef would include caterers, restaurant and hotel chefs, and bakery and pastry chefs.

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What does a Culinary Chef do?

Most chefs have some specialty or preferred area of work, though it may take time for a chef to settle into a particular niche. Frequently, the chefs that are in the highest demand are the ones that are skilled in a great many areas of preparation, with many skill sets that help to coordinate a kitchen.

A restaurant chef, or "station chef" might work at any of the stations, ranging from preparing cold foods ("pantry chef"), making soup and hot hors d'oeuvres ("entremetier"), fry chef, grill chef, and saute chef ("saucier"). The saucier is oftentimes a semi-managerial position, with seniority over other line chefs. The sous chef, ("under-chef") has seniority over the saucier and other line chefs, and the head chef ("chef de cuisine") has seniority and authority over all of the kitchen workers.

This career is a good choice for the very motivated person who enjoys a challenge and an active workplace, day in and day out. Long hours are almost a given for the average chef, and working late hours is very common as well. Many restaurants may close at 10:00PM, but their kitchens are not cleaned and prepped for the next day until 2:00AM.

Attention to detail is important as well, for following recipes and keeping track of cooking supplies, stock levels, and managerial duties are often expected of a restaurant chef. Being in good physical shape and maintaining excellent personal hygiene are also important for a position where one can expect to be on their feet at least eight hours a day, lifting heavy pots and kitchen equipment on a constant basis.

How to become a Culinary Chef

Entry level positions will be open to people willing to work hard, perform well, and move up the ladder. However, to bypass some rungs or to jumpstart a culinary career, formal education will certainly help.

A wide variety of formal culinary training exists, ranging from a few months to four years. There are associates degrees that can be earned in two years, and bachelors degrees that take four years. All programs have hands-on training, where the students will be in a kitchen and learn cooking and baking techniques, nutrition, preparation, as well as safety and sanitation procedures. Internships may also be required depending on the program.

There are over 550 cooking schools in the United States alone, and more and more employers are expecting academic success from their prospective employees. Of these, just under 70 schools have been accredited by the American Culinary Federation.

Nearly all graduates start their careers as an apprentice to a higher-level chef and work their way up, regardless of education.

What is the workplace of a Culinary Chef like?

The culinary chef's workplace can be very diverse, ranging from high end restaurant and hotel kitchens to private kitchens, hospital kitchens, retirement centres, cruise ships or even providing food for movie sets.

External Reading

  • How Many Hours A Day Do Chefs Work? eggbeater.typepad.com

    It's no secret that cooks/chefs do not work 8 hours a day, 40 hours a week over a consecutive 5 day period. This example, in fact, would be called Part Time by most in the industry.

  • What Is A Chef's Responsibility? eggbeater.typepad.com

    What does Chef mean? People get out of their cushy culinary schools and are told by those establishments, (not all of them, thank god) that they are chefs.

  • Chefs Weigh In: Is Culinary School Worth It? eater.com

    People who attend culinary school are probably broke and woefully unprepared for their jobs. After they graduate, students can look forward to being sexually harassed and totally without a social life. Despite this, enrollment for culinary schools keeps going up with every passing year. Which begs the question: is it really worth it?

  • How To Be A Chef www.huffingtonpost.com

    One thing I get asked a lot is how to become a chef, so I figured that I'd save everyone (and me!) time by putting my advice up here for the world to see.

  • 10 Life Skills We Could All Learn From Professional Chefs www.huffingtonpost.com

    If I had my druthers, everyone would know what it's like to work in a commercial kitchen. Here are the top 10 invaluable skills they would learn.

  • Seven Personality Traits Of A Culinary Professional www.chefs.com

    While you decide which culinary school best matches your career goals, you might also want to consider that it takes more to make a great chef than passion and training. The perfect recipe for success as a chef also includes some intangible personality traits.

  • Types of Chefs recipes.howstuffworks.com

    While you're in culinary school or working in a restaurant you may find that you're either really good at one element of cooking or that you love one aspect enough to do only that.

  • So You Want To Be A Chef www.reluctantgourmet.com

    A Must Read If You are Thinking of Going To Culinary School