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Requirements to Become a Chef

Loveleena Rajeev
A chef is a highly skilled cook, who is capable of bringing an aesthetic sense into the most ordinary of meals. To know more about what it requires to become a chef who can present delicious food in a splendid manner, read on...
A chef is someone who enjoys experimenting with edible ingredients, and creates food that is soulful. Food that satisfies the mind, soul, and the stomach is known as complete food.
This is what a chef aspires to do with his culinary skills. For some cooking is an inborn talent, for some it's acquired. Either way, there are a few requirements one needs to adhere to be recognized as a culinary master.

Basic Requirements

Passion and Culinary Sense

The skills needed to become a chef include a keen sense of taste and smell, and a passion for food and cooking. This keen sense is required to recognize subtle nuances in flavors and innovate with combinations. Chefs also need to have an efficient memory to remember all the ingredients and the quantities required to prepare a meal for two or more.

Leadership and Team Skills

A chefs job involves long hours of work, and a very alert mind. They have to spend most evenings and weekends on their feet. The kitchens are fast-paced and people are generally working under stress.
A good chef not only has to balance long hours, but has to keep the creativity flowing for everyone involved in all aspects of cooking. This would only be possible with efficient teamwork. It is impossible to make a splendid meal in an inharmonious kitchen. Chefs have to manage workers, delegate responsibility and direct the whole meal's preparation process.


Desire for perfection and hunger for learning more drives a chef. Creativity in cooking food as well as presentation sets a skilled chef apart from an ordinary one. Experimentation is also an important trait. Planning and organizing a kitchen is also necessary.

Educational Requirements

Attending Culinary Schools

There are many culinary schools that offer two or four-year college programs. Here one gets trained in the various aspects of a kitchen. One not only learns about cooking, but also about purchasing, store-keeping, and inventory, and kitchen and restaurant management, etc.
Some hotels and restaurants have their own training programs where they generally absorb the best into their own apprenticeships. Culinary schools offer hands-on experience and formal training. Most restaurants want chefs with a culinary college degree and hands-on work experience.

Working as Support Staff In Professional Kitchens

The other way to become a chef is to start out as support staff in the kitchen, with a special task to perform, such as preparing vegetables, soups, or be a part of the baking division.
However, one needs to have some developed culinary skills to do so. Many young chefs work for several years under different mentors to acquire experience and the right skill, before running a kitchen as head chefs, or starting out their own restaurants.
Age requirements for becoming a chef vary from place to place. Generally, one needs to be at least 16 years and above to become a chef. While one can become a chef at any age above 16, it is advisable to start young, preferably in a college or school dedicated to this training.

Types of Chefs

Chefs undergo years of training before deciding on a specialty. Here are the many different types of chefs one can aspire to be.

Executive Chef:

Executive chefs are very hands-on in cooking, planning, and directing food preparation. They plan for everything required to run the kitchen and it their main responsibility to ensure food meets quality standards. They also have to recruit and hire staff.

Sous Chef:

The sous chef is the executive chef's immediate junior, and is responsible for the preparation of the dishes served. The sous chef plans and supervises activities of all others chefs and kitchen workers. They report directly to the executive chefs.


The saucier makes all the sauces required to cook the dish in. They are highly demanded in French restaurant kitchens, as French cuisine relies mainly on the sauces the food is cooked in.

Pastry Chef:

Specialized chefs that make all kinds of baked goods and confections and desserts are called pastry chefs. They need to be highly creative in their presentation. They keep track of all bakery associated costs and are in charge of ordering all ingredients.

Garde Manger:

Garde Manger is a specialized cook, responsible for all cold food preparation and presentation. Cold foods include salads, pates, canap├ęs, etc. They prepare all cold sauces and dressings.

Commis Chef:

Commis chef is a junior or apprentice and is assigned to different sections of the kitchen for a specific duration. The commis chef works under specialty cooks and learns about food preparation and plating. The experience is invaluable, as it helps them to learn and handle the pace, pressure, and demands of a kitchen.
Most Head Chefs earn approximately USD 21,010 to USD 58,730 per year depending on training, experience and talent. Becoming a chef is a good career option and high in demand with a large number of hotels and restaurants being opened each year. This profession not only offers a highly skilled and exciting lifestyle, but also a lucrative one!