There is no greater security than the food business, since everyone has to eat. Restaurants manage to survive in even the most depressed areas because, although we all have to eat, not everybody likes to cook.
It’s a challenging job. A cook may have to frequently enter a walk-in freezer to return to a steaming kitchen. The kitchen floor will often be wet and splattered with grease. Cooks must wear special, non-slip, water resistant shoes, which wear out quickly. Prep cooks chop vegetables, prepare foods for cooking, and measure ingredients.
The line cook does the actual cooking, working alongside the sous chef, who is second in command to the main chef. In large restaurants, a line cook will be responsible for a particular station, such as meats, sauces, pastas, or soups. In smaller restaurants, they may have to be able to prepare a variety of dishes.
Chef Description and Explanation
The chef is the boss. He or she manages the kitchen. Typically, the chef doesn’t do a lot of the preparation except for specialty dishes. The main job is to organize the team, supervise the preparations, make sure the kitchen meets health and safety standards, and maintain good customer relations.
The chef also manages the menu and is in charge of contacting vendors for food products. In some restaurants, the menu changes according to the foods that are in season or with special offers from the vendors. In chain restaurants, the menu is often set, with food product shipments handled through the supply chain.
Eye appeal is one of the qualities of a good chef. The chef must not only have a very good sense of taste and smell, but sensitivity to the pleasant arrangement of a served dish. Even simple dishes are more appetizing when arranged in an eye-appealing manner.
How to Get Hired
If you are serious about becoming a chef, resign yourself to the fact that you have to attend culinary school. Many restaurants will hire employees that haven’t completed high school yet, but in order to move into management roles, you will have to take courses. Restaurants will often send their most promising line cooks through a culinary arts course, preparing them for the rigors of a full-time chef.
Chefs need to know how to prepare and serve a large variety of dishes, but they also must study the shelf life of food products, balanced nutrition, correct cooking time for maximum safety and flavor, and budgeting, so the restaurant isn’t ordering over or under the necessary perishable foods. They must be willing to experiment with recipes. Many gain their reputation by adding “secret ingredients” that mark their particular menu item as the best in town.
The advantage of being a chef is that there is always a demand for them, no matter where you go. As a chef, you might work in a specialty restaurant serving International cuisine, sea food, or vegetarian fare. Your specialty might be as a banquet chef serving large gourmet meals to conventions, wedding parties, and other public functions.
Your greatest specialty, however, will be in organizing the team, so each course is served in a timely manner, supervising the preparations, tasting the different items for flavor, and adding appropriate spices and ingredients as needed.
The chef is the cooking expert, the budget manager, the safety oversight, and the public relations department of the kitchen. The chef’s job is to make sure the employees are working to the best of their abilities, showing interest in their jobs, and are performing the duties assigned to their position.
The chef makes sure the customers are satisfied with their orders and are comfortable in their environment. A restaurant caters to appetite, and the most satisfying feeling is leaving a restaurant feeling well-fed and ready to come back the next time a particular platter is tickling the taste buds.