Becoming a Chef: Clothing, Qualifications and Skill Sets
For many people, becoming a chef is a dream career move. Whether you fell in love with cooking from a young age or you’ve recently discovered you have a talent for combining flavours and creating delicious recipes, starting a career as a chef is something anyone can do at any stage of their life.
Chefs are in high demand all across the globe. Every single year, the hospitality industry continues to grow and flourish. From casual eateries and cafes to fine dining establishments, there are endless dining experiences around the world to tuck into - and as a chef, the catering world is your oyster.
When you begin your career as a chef, you can be the master of your career direction. Whether you want to work in a bustling independent restaurant in the countryside or you’ve got your heart set on a high-end chain in the city, chefs are not limited to one type of cuisine or establishment.
However, one thing remains consistent across the board: all chefs need to have a certain skill set, along with the appropriate clothing and qualifications. Below, we take a look at what it takes to become a top chef.
What qualifications do I need to become a chef?
If you’re just starting out, it’s essential you get some experience down on your CV. This will help you to stand out and ensure you catch the eye of your employers. Working in a kitchen will help you gain experience, whether you’re helping out with washing up or you’re a kitchen assistant.
Simply being in a commercial kitchen and learning how they are run is a great place to start. When applying for a senior chef position, establishments will want to see evidence you have worked in kitchens.
If you want to be a top chef, it’s also extremely beneficial to obtain some qualifications. There are a few different ways you can do this:
Apprenticeships typically begin at an intermediate or advanced level. To complete an apprenticeship, you usually need five GCSEs including Maths and English.
You can take a professional cooking class at college. Again, you’ll need at least five GCSEs to access a Level 3 course.
Many universities offer a foundation degree which is two years long. You can learn lots of different skills in a foundation degree, and then complete a ‘top up’ course to convert this into a BA degree.
Some people choose to go to cooking school. There are lots of schools across the country you can attend to obtain a qualification. Many top chefs attend culinary schools to learn top cooking techhniques, along with how to use the latest cooking equipment and methods - taught by culinary masters.
What skills do I need to become a chef?
It takes a range of both hard and soft skills to become a talented and respected chef who can effectively and efficiently run a kitchen. Below, we take a look at a few of the skills required.
The most important skill a chef needs is the ability to cook. However, you don’t just need to know how to cook basic recipes - to truly excel in your career as a chef, you should be an expert. Know your flavours, know your dishes, know your seasonings, know your different cuisines and, above all, know your kitchen. As a chef, you should be able to cook efficiently and precisely to meet the demands of customers.
It’s true what they say: practice really does make perfect. Experiment with different cuisines and dishes and work out where your true talents lie. Don’t be afraid to get creative in the kitchen; creating unique dishes will only make you stand out as a chef and ensure your restaurant has something different to offer.
As a chef, you should have experience with food preparation, ingredient selection, cooking, grilling and presentation. In addition, chefs often have experience with knife control, knife cuts, knife skills, baking, pastry and more.
Attention to detail
Cooking is a form of art. It’s also a science - each ingredient, each pinch of seasoning, each spice and each measurement must be exact and precise. Therefore, it’s essential that a chef has excellent attention to detail, including an eye for portion sizing, heat control and measuring.
The process is not finished once the recipe has been completed; it’s all about presentation too. A chef will pay attention to how each and every dish looks on a plate, ensuring it both looks and tastes appealing.
Ability to multitask
It’s no secret that, during busy hours, chefs are rushed off their feet. There are many elements of food that make up one simple dish - and that’s not taking into consideration starters, desserts, sides and other dishes on the table too. And that’s just one table! To be a successful chef, you must master the art of skilful multitasking.
If you want to become a Head Chef, you’ll need to have an eye on just about everything in the restaurant: what each section of the kitchen is working on, what the front of house team are doing at any point during service, what the customers are experiencing and more. You should be able to manage your time effectively and - above all else - work efficiently with your team to meet customer demands and deliver excellent service.
What kitchen uniform do I need to wear?
Next, let’s take a quick look at the chef's uniform. Of course, all professional chefs should look tidy, presentable and professional in the kitchen, no matter what type of establishment they work in.
White chef’s jacket
A chef’s jacket ensures the chef looks professional in the kitchen. It’s essential the correct chef’s jacket is chosen. Fabric and breathability are important factors to consider; make sure the jacket allows your skin to breathe easily and comfortably. You can choose from a double or single breasted jacket. Many chefs prefer double breasted jackets as they provide extra protection from splashes in the kitchen and allow you to quickly flip over the dirty side of the jacket to the clean side.
Chef’s trousers allow chefs to easily, comfortably and freely move around the kitchen. They should be practical and breathable, and protect the clothing worn underneath.
Many chefs choose to wear an apron over their jacket, or sometimes instead of a jacket. A chef’s apron should be durable and practical; they also need to be washed often, so it’s important that they wash well. There are lots of different apron styles to choose from, including pinafore, waist and mid length styles.
Excellent hygiene standards must be practised in every kitchen, and this means keeping long hair out of the way. There are lots of different types of headwear available to prevent hair from contaminating food, including mob cabs, trilby hats and chef’s hats and toques.
Johnsons Stalbridge Linen Services: high-quality kitchen linen for your establishment
At Johnsons Stalbridge Linen Services, we have been providing chef whites and kitchen uniforms for restaurants across the UK since 1975. We are proud of our excellent reputation amongst our customers and our range of premium products.
Whether you’re in need of white chef jackets, black chef jackets, aprons, trousers or any other types of chef’s wear, we can provide you with the kitchen linen you require. Our extensive experience providing linen products for restaurants places us as the go-to company for quality chef’s wear. Our product range includes both traditional and contemporary styles and service methods to suit all different types of customers.
The team at Johnsons Stalbridge Linen Services understand just how important appearances and first impressions are for your restaurant, which is why we provide top quality chef clothing. We’re committed to being environmentally friendly and practising reliable business conduct.
For more information about our linen services, visit our website today. We also provide linen for hire and industrial laundry services for caterers, hotels and restaurants.