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What are the requirements for becoming a chef ?

So you are interested in the possibility of launching a career in the culinary arts? You more than likely have questions and want to make certain that a career as a chef is the right path for you. You may think that in order to become a chef, all you need is an education from a top culinary arts school. What you really need is much more than a piece of paper. This article will provide you with information on how to get ready to become a chef.

So what traits, requirements or characteristics should a successful chef possess?

Endurance is having the strength and power to stick it out when the going gets rough and never give up. Do you think you have what it takes?

A career as a chef is not like many jobs you are used to. It's nothing like an office job where you sit at a desk all day and stare at a computer screen playing solitaire when it gets slow, calling up your buddies or surfing the Internet. Sure there are points in any job where things can get busy and stressful, but nothing can really compare to the stress of a busy restaurant environment.

You will have to learn to do things on the job that others are not willing to do, and with a smile on you face. You will have to work weekends and holidays. You will get filthy and sweaty. Your back and feet will hurt. You will get cut, burned and bruised. You will want to sit down and take a break, but you can't because you have 20 more orders to complete before the lunch rush is over.

A busy day at the restaurant can take its toll on your mind and body, so it is very important that you are prepared. Just like a marathon runner spends hours running and preparing him or herself mentally and physically for the big race, so should a chef prepare him or herself for the physical and mental demands of the job. So if you are not already practicing a healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet, exercise and adequate sleep, then you should begin today. It will make life as a chef easier.

The bottom line in any successful restaurant is pleasing the customer. And what exactly pleases a customer more than a delicious meal? It's getting their food in a timely manner. People are impatient and hate waiting too long for their dinner to come out, so a chef needs to work fast. Not only do you have to work fast, but you have to work smart as well. Everything needs to be done right or you will inevitably receive complaints from the customers. While we can't please everyone, too many complaints will ultimately hurt your career.

So how does a chef make certain that everything runs smoothly and is done quickly during a busy rush? One answer is intelligent preparation. Otherwise known as "Mise en place" in Culinary Terminology.

Mise en place, when translated from French, literally means "setting in place." So before the actual cooking process begins, the chef will prepare all the necessary ingredients and cookware. This usually includes measuring out all of the ingredients and placing them into individual bowls. All of your necessary cooking equipment like knives, spatulas, blenders and cutting boards are made available and the ovens are preheated. Once you begin cooking, you will realize how important preparation is. The cooking process becomes much easier because you don't have to stop during the cooking process to prepare anything, and in a busy restaurant every second counts.

As a chef, you will need to develop a lot of patience.

Everything is not going to go your way in the beginning. There is the chance that you will never reach the level that you originally set out for, but that is simply the reality of this profession. Not every chef makes it to the top as a head chef or a star on Food Network. This doesn't mean you shouldn't try and become a chef and strive to be the best you can be, you just need to keep things in perspective.

Don't let anything on the job discourage you or keep you from reaching your goals as a chef. You may not always get noticed for all the hard work that you do. You may not get that raise you were hoping for. Your co workers may dislike you and talk behind your back. These are just normal situations of any profession really and you have to live with it and shrug it off. Sooner or later you will get your break and get noticed so hang in there.

There is absolutely no reason why you need to wait until you get accepted into Culinary School, or get your first job, before you start learning how to become a chef. There are a myriad of cooking books, articles, TV shows and cooking videos available to the aspiring chef, and you should take advantage of this wealth of information and training starting today. So turn on the Food Network, grab a few good books and start cooking! Live and breathe cooking. Cook for your friends and family. Practice with your "Mise en place". Learn about all the different tools and equipment that a professional chef uses. Learn the different types of cooking methods like braising, parboiling, saut?ing and simmering. Learn how to slice, dice and chop. The more you learn now, the more experience you will have, and the easier it will be to learn in school or on the job.

Written by Ralph Serpe
A passionate cook and writer for www.chef-ability.com
Article reproduced with permission by Ralph Serpe

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