How to Become a Chef

Some people were just born to cook. In the culinary world, chefs are the big cheese. Chefs not only cook, they design recipes, write menus, order food and hire kitchen staff. The chef ultimately rules all aspects of the kitchen. If you think you have what it takes to be a chef, follow this general guide to achieving a successful career in the field.

  1. Learn about the culinary industry A lot goes on in a restaurant kitchen. There are numerous positions and hierarchies for cooking staff. A chef or executive chef is in charge of the entire kitchen. To become a chef, you need to start in a lower position and work your way up [source: Chef's Blade].
  2. Get an education Most chefs have some postsecondary education. Independent cooking schools, professional culinary institutes and some colleges offer formal training programs [source: BLS]. Being a chef requires knowledge of business, cultural studies, mathematics, natural sciences, human relations, art and even foreign languages [source: Chef's Blade].
  3. Work in restaurant kitchens The main way chefs develop the skills they need to run the entire kitchen is by working from the bottom up. Start with a job as an apprentice or line cook and absorb everything you can learn from the more experienced staff around you [source: Education-portal].
  4. Get certified The American Culinary Federation (ACF) offers certification for pastry professionals and various levels of chefs [source: BLS]. ACF certification proves that your skills have reached a minimal standard of culinary expertise, that you are knowledgeable in nutrition and food safety, and that you understand the responsibilities of culinary supervisory management. This will be invaluable when applying for the coveted executive chef position you've been dreaming about [source: ACF].