Job description: What does a chefs and cooks do?
By TV chefs such as James Beard, Gordon Ramsay, or Matt Basile has Job Profile Cook gained popularity. Especially the “young and wild” among the celebrity chefs provide varied entertainment with unusual shows and unusual recipes.
There is not that much entertainment in the training to become a chef. As a budding chef, you are not only responsible for the production of dishes, but you are also responsible for the calculation and organization of menu sequences, drinks such as wine, and menus. Manual skills and knowledge of kitchen technology form the basis for the job.
You have to work at unusual times – usually in the evenings until late at night and not infrequently on public holidays and weekends. Also, the tone in the kitchen is relatively rough. Only those who can get involved in shifts that are at “inappropriate times” for other people and have a thick skin should decide on the job description.
The good news: The job prospects are comparatively good. On the one hand, because the increasing number of cooking shows on TV and even cooking comedy on USA stages have made the job profile popular again. On the other hand, the messages from celebrity chefs have ensured that many consumers have changed their eating habits: slow food instead of fast food. This went hand in hand with an upswing in gastronomy.
Education: How do you become a chef?
The path to becoming a chef leads through state-recognized training . The training to become a chef extends over three years and is completed in a training company and parallel to this in the vocational school. Classes in the vocational school usually take place once or twice a week.
After completing their training, a chef must be fit in the following areas:
- Health and safety at work
- Dealing with guests
- Use of equipment and machines
- Work planning
- Kitchen area
- Service area
- Office organization and communication
- Merchandise management
- Applying work and kitchen techniques
- Preparation of plant-based foods
- Manufacture of soups and sauces
- Preparation of fish, shellfish, and crustaceans
- Processing of meat and offal
- Processing of game and poultry
- Production of starters and serving of cold plates
- Preparation of dairy products and eggs
- Manufacture and processing of doughs and masses
- Manufacture of desserts
The job profile includes a large number of activities that go far beyond the preparation of food. After the first year of training, take their intermediate examination. This is a practical exam that lasts up to three hours. During this time, budding chefs demonstrate whether and how well they can plan work steps, apply work techniques, and present products.
The final exam consists of a practical and a written part.
- The practical part lasts up to six hours. During this time, the apprentice prepares a three-course menu for six people from a given shopping cart.
- In the meantime, the written exam asks application-related questions on the topics of technology, inventory management, and economics, and social studies. It takes up to four hours.
Employer: Who is looking for cooks
Chefs can be found wherever there is cooking: in restaurants, hotels, canteens, and catering services. Other chefs conquer the oceans on cruise ships, but here too they spend most of the day standing below deck in a kitchen without a window.
Well, and then of course a career in television that mean the world is still open. But this is – as in other areas – reserved for only a few. Further application options for applicants with the job profile of a chef arise in:
- Youth hostels
- Holiday homes
- Public houses
- Retirement homes
- Daycare centers
- Private households
Salary: How much does a chef make?
The earnings depend on the state. As with other job profiles, income after training depends on factors such as the region and company size.
Map of chef salaries
The darker areas on the map show where chefs earn the highest salaries across all 50 states.
- Median Annual Salary: $48,460 ($23.30/hour)
- Top 10% Annual Salary: $81,150 ($39.01/hour)
- Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $26,320 ($12.65/hour)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
In a star restaurant, earnings are many times higher than in a small catering establishment or in a company canteen, whereby aspiring chefs in posh restaurants have to reckon with a higher workload than in the canteen kitchen.
But there is still room for improvement. For example, many chefs are involved in the turnover of a restaurant: the better the business runs, the greater the amount that ultimately flows into the account. As experience increases, so does earnings.
Entry opportunities: The prospects for chefs
While the prospects for chefs were not so rosy up until about ten years ago, the job market has been giving the all-clear for some time now: the gastronomy sector is feeling the trend towards an increasingly environmentally conscious and healthy diet.
Not only the food is subject to new requirements, but the ambiance must also be pleasing: the trend is towards adventure gastronomy. Good opportunities for creative minds – sometimes even career changers can convince if they have the necessary skill and know-how.
Application: How do chefs score
Which soft and hard skills should budding chefs bring with them? As far as academic knowledge is concerned, good grades in mathematics and chemistry are not bad – for calculation and food chemistry. These should also be highlighted accordingly in the résumé and cover letter.
Other qualities and skills that cooks don’t look bad at include:
- Joy of cooking
- Knowledge of wine
- Interest in nutrition issues
- Coordination skills
Career: Development opportunities as a chef
There are numerous training opportunities for chefs, which are offered as qualification courses or advanced training seminars. Here some examples:
- Diet kitchen
- Whole food and vegetarian diet
- Wine seminars
- Business management training
Also, there are so-called advancement courses in the following areas:
- Kitchen master
And last but not least, many chefs strive to become self-employed at some point and become their boss in their restaurant.