Question & Answer: Pursuing Career as a Chef
My daughter is in the 9th grade studying the CBSE curriculum. She is passionate about food and cooking and aspires to become a chef. Could you please guide us as to what stream is best suited for her to pursue this and the best colleges that offer degree programs in India and abroad. She would also like to do a course in health/nutrition to further supplement and widen her scope in this profession. We look forward to your valuable advise.
Being a Chef is not just about being innovative in the kitchen and cooking a great meal. It is also about being a great manager. You have to be able to efficiently manage goods, equipment, resources and people. Having said that, I am delighted to read about your daughter’s passion and your intention to help her follow it.
For all this you should pursue culinary studies and earn a degree or diploma. This training will provide you with a lifelong basis for understanding quality raw ingredients, and appreciating the art of cooking, preparation and presentation. In addition to the love for cooking, creativity is a necessary attribute you need to possess. A meal is made all the more interesting by the way it is presented on the plate. Along with classroom studies you would need to gain practical experience on the kitchen floor. Even while you keep learning on the job, the culinary school gives you a base of knowledge to test and compare new trends, new ingredients and your own creativity.
Even while chef, caterer, pastry chef and restaurant cook are the most familiar four options, there are other jobs in the food industry which include positions in management as executive chef or in sales as catering director or in administration as food and beverage manager. You could also explore developing specialty products – a line of sauces or dressings or become a restaurant consultant to entrepreneurs or even run your own restaurant. You could teach at professional cooking schools or be a food critic. The options are endless.
An accredited qualification would require completing a Hotel Management Course. This usually takes 3-4 years. In India some of the better recognized institutes are schools managed by the hotel chains – Taj Group Ahmadabad; Oberoi School, Delhi; Welcome Group, Manipal.In addition some of the private institutes that offer courses in catering and hotel management would include:
- Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Goa and New Delhi.
- Oriental School of Hotel Management, Kozhikode
- Merit Swiss Asian School of Hotel Management, Ooty
Whatever path you choose, it is necessary to decide on the area of specialization and try to get some work experience while completing the course. This could be in the form of an internship at a hotel, restaurant, cruise liner etc.
In the UK, professional training to become a chef is usually for 2 years followed by further two years as a commis. Only after completion of a total of four years of training can you apply for the role of station chef.
Some of the better known schools outside India would include:
- Hotel and Tourism School, Les Roches
- Le Cordon Bleu Schools ( all over the world)
- Swiss Hotel Management School, Switzerland
- Leeds College of Technology, UK
- Cornell University School of Hotel Management and Administration, Ithaca, USA
- The Culinary Institute of America.
As campus placements tend to be easier from the more reputed colleges it is best to enrol in these institutions.
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