Although it is possible to become a chef by training on the job and not attending any formal culinary courses, it is a very long drawn out process. You have to join the trade at the bottom of the ladder as a kitchen assistant, possibly washing dishes and work your way up. It is therefore always advisable to get formal training, attend reputed culinary courses and learn the basic theory and tricks of the trade.
There are various types of culinary courses available all over the world, both short term and more comprehensive long duration. Professional chefs can work in many different places, including hotels, restaurants, resorts, casinos, hospitals, schools and colleges, corporate office canteens, yachts, food trucks and street stalls and even private homes.There are many culinary courses to prepare you for each path.
There are various areas of operations in the hospitality trade. If you wish to become a chef, depending on your area of interest, you should opt for a certificate, diploma or degree that gears you up for your vision.
No matter which position in the hospitality workforce you aim for you will find a culinary course custom tailored for it.
The fundamental techniques of food production form the foundation of all culinary courses. Apart from learning how to hold a knife, slice, chop and dice, the other things all courses teach are:
- Pastry making
- Menu planning
- Menu costing
- Kitchen hygiene and safety
- Business operations
There are basically three types of culinary courses available for an aspiring chef:
- The Associate degree: This two year course is meant for individuals who want to expand their skills without spending too much time at college. The course teaches the basics of cooking and baking. It will help you to understand food, how to use the equipment in a professional kitchen, how to handle and manage staff, how to plan menus and work out their costing and all about kitchen safety and hygiene. An Associate degree will add value to your resume and help you increase your pay.
- The Bachelor's degree: A four year course that is ideal for students interested in entry level jobs in the hospitality management segment. The course includes accounting and business principles and students are also taught ‘people-skills’. Budgeting and cost analysis are very important aspects of this curriculum. A graduate of the Bachelor’s degree can get a job as a manager in any hospitality property, be it in the kitchen, dining room or the front desk. A chef’s mobility up the ladder is greatly enhanced if they hold a Bachelor’s degree.
- The Master’s degree: This is a more specialized culinary course and meant for the kitchen professionals. It is focused training either in business and management or different disciplines of cuisine. This is the ideal course for those who aspire for the top of the ladder, be it Hotel General Managers or Food and Beverage Directors.
Besides the above degree courses there are many short duration diploma and certificate courses that specialize in different streams of the culinary arts.