Should you become a chef?

Maybe you've been working in the hospitality trade as a member of waiting staff and have been inspired to try and get into a more highly-skilled position in the sector. Maybe you adore watching programmes like MasterChef.

Whatever the reason, every year people make the decision that they want to become a chef – a career path that could see them end up getting some of the most highly skilled jobs in the catering sector.

But before you even make the first moves into training for this sort of job, or getting a kitchen role that allows you to do training on the job, consider your personal attributes, and whether they fit those needed by chefs.

Food is your passion

Much more so than people working as waiting staff, for example, a head chef especially needs to be a creative force who is genuinely and deeply interested in food. So it really is a good starting point, before your career kicks off, if you enjoy watching programmes like MasterChef and fancy a piece of the action, for example.

Watching from afar is not enough, however, because it's practical skills that count when you're in the kitchen. You might not need to be able to create dishes as fancy as those seen in the best restaurants to get a chef job, or train as a chef, but you certainly will have to be able to cook, or prove you have what it takes to gain cooking skills.

Being imaginative, and having the ability to create recipes of your own, not just work from other peoples', will also be important to a chef – though this might be something you develop through your career and training.

Stamina

We've all seen how pressured kitchens can become on TV. It's true that, when things get busy, you'll be working under the pressure of knowing that a customer is waiting for the food you're creating for them, and that mistakes could be costly.

You ideally should be the sort of person who can work calmly when things get pressured, and be able to follow instructions from senior chefs without breaking a sweat! If not, you should consider whether you're willing or able to learn these attributes. Though we all have different base-level abilities as the beginning of a career, it's usually possible to hone your skills – with the right work!

Perfectionism

When you make a meal for the family, are you happy with a burnt chicken breast, or do you want everything to be perfect? If it's the latter, you may well be better suited to being a chef, where making food for paying customers means mistakes are something that need to be avoided. Again, it could be that you develop your attention to detail over the course of training, but the potential to take your work seriously and strive for the best results must be there.

Being willing to put the hours in

Becoming a good chef doesn't happen overnight. Chances are you won't simply step into a kitchen and be able to create good work. Training of whatever kind will be required first, and if you want to climb the career ladder to head chef, you'll have to keep improving and improving at your work. If you're expecting that you'll be able to take the fast-track to being a good chef, you may well have the wrong attitude. By its very nature, preparing food is a skilled task.

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