Are you looking for more information on how to become a top Chef? Is a Chef School in your future?
Culinary schools offer aspiring chefs the best shot at making it to the ”big time”, especially those Schools that are accredited by the American Culinary Federation(ACF). Many of the better restaurants base their hiring practices on length of education as well as where that education was obtained. Tuition runs from relatively inexpensive courses offered by local community colleges to the Culinary Institute of America’s $40,000 price tag. And the price usually covers only the tuition; everything from uniforms, textbooks, cutlery, and other necessary kitchen equipment costs extra.
It is important to note that course curriculum differs somewhat from school to school, but most of the student’s time is spent learning the fundamentals of cooking by actually doing it under close supervision. Participants not only prepare food, but also learn how to plan menus, minimize food costs, buy food and supplies in quantities, and how to choose and store food. Learning proper hygiene and local public health rules, along with understanding different types of chef uniforms also play a large part in a student’s education.
Most classes are offered for a full 8 hour day, while at some schools, classes are broken into morning and afternoon sessions. There are usually lectures, and then demonstrations followed by hands-on practice time with students applying the techniques demonstrated earlier. Some schools even offer part-time professional classes to accommodate working cooks wanting to increase their formal education. So many of you can learn as you wear your chef hats!
The following is a list of some scholarship opportunities and the number offered:
The American Academy of Chefs Chair’s Scholarship – Ten $1,000 scholarships awarded each year
The American Academy of Chefs Chaine des Rotisseurs Scholarship – Twenty $1,000 scholarships awarded annually
National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) – Three yearly $2,000 scholarships for high school seniors and undergraduate students
To reach the level of executive chef in most well-paying restaurants takes years of training. Students that are serious about this profession have usually begun their training in high school through vocational programs, then go on to a two- or four-year college or university. Apprenticeship programs offer more training afterward, and are given by a personal mentor in a restaurant or from professional institutions and associations such as the AFC.
A three year apprenticeship is normal and is most often known as the years of “grunt work” – doing all the chopping, grating, peeling, slicing, and washing necessary to prepare the ingredients for the chefs. Even cleaning appliances, sweeping and mopping floors, and other seemingly unaffiliated work gets done by the apprentice as part of his or her learning experience. Often this “trial-by-fire” period separates the truly dedicated chefs-to-be from those who are merely good cooks.
Becoming an Executive Chef without formal education is possible, but in today’s world, most well-known hotels and finer restaurants will require some type of certification.
And by the way – Just because you do have some formal training, and can tout a degree, does not mean you are the next “Top Chef”; but it does go a long way in showing that you have made a strong commitment to your craft. So go out there and make it happen. You are only limited by the desire inside you!
To see a full line of Chef Uniforms, please visit ChefUniforms.com.