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