12 Things You Must Know to Be a Professional Chef

professional chef

The glamour we see nowadays around a professional chef hasn’t always been like this. The creativity of chefs was utterly disregarded for years — not giving enough recognition to the culinary arts. But thanks to television shows and charismatic celebrity chefs, it has garnered a lot of attention recently as a profession. The likes of Gordon Ramsay and Anthony Bourdain have become idols for people aspiring to take cooking up as their profession. The interest in this industry keeps growing among the youth of this day & age. 

As with any other line of work, As with any other line of work, a chef must develop certain knowledge and skills. How can you jump into a profession without knowing its ins and outs, right? That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 12 Things You Must Know Before Becoming a Professional Chef. You may ask why 12? Why not 20, or 15? Well, among the countless facts/tips about cooking as a profession, we looked for the ones essential for you to know beforehand. 

Mind you; these tips aim to give you an overview and help you make a decision. If you are determined to be a chef by now, then check out this professional online training to get started.

As for the eager-to-learn souls out there with a dream of being a pro chef, here’s the list of 12 things you should understand right away!

The Ultimate Checklist to be a Professional Chef

  1. Be the Best Cook in the World!

  2. The Fundamentals of Kitchen Hierarchy

  3. Back to School?

  4. Be More Organised and Systematic

  5. Practice Makes a Professional Chef Perfect!

  6. Fluent in the Language of Cooking!

  7. Don’t Forget a Healthy Meal!

  8. Collaborate More!

  9. Food Safety and Hygiene

  10. Remember the Numbers

  11. Be Quick & Precise

  12. Utilise Critiques to Improve Yourself

Be the Best Cook in the World!

It’s a no brainer that knowing how to cook is the first step towards being a chef. But something more important than this is the true passion behind professional cookery. Sure, you can master chef skills or any other skill for that matter from home — thanks to the online education platforms. But to be a professional chef, you have to have a passion for it.

You can’t expect to be a pro in culinary arts against your will. You have to believe deep inside that you are on a path to become the best cook in the world. No matter what anybody says, don’t lose hope and belief in yourself.

The Fundamentals of Kitchen Hierarchy

Okay, first things first. There’s a chain of command in any professional kitchen with chefs assigned with their designated chores. Let’s go through them one by one.

  • Executive Chef is the head honcho of a kitchen. This role is actually exclusively seen in large establishments like restaurants and hotels with multiple outlets and such. Being an executive chef is all about managing and taking care of the business side of the hotel/restaurant. So, this role is all about less cooking and more supervising. You can check this online course if you want an in-depth understanding of the managerial role:
  • Head Chef or Chef de Cuisine is the most common role seen in every kitchen around the world. Head chefs manage the entire kitchen by controlling everything ranging from creating menus and regulating supply costs to supervising kitchen staff. Basically, this is the person actually running the whole show in a kitchen.
  • Sous Chef or the second chef is the second-in-command working behind the head chef. A sous chef has more involvement in the kitchen than his superiors while also taking part in some managerial activities. Small establishments often leave out the sous chef position, but they are the bridge between the workforce and the administrative personnel in a kitchen.
  • Line Chef or the Chef de Partie is often referred to as the station chef. Multiple line chefs depend on the size of the kitchen, and they have separate sections to run. They usually help create the chain or orders and increase the productivity of the kitchen. Popular line chef roles include butcher chef, grill chef, fry chef, sauté chef, pastry chef etc. Their responsibilities can easily be guessed with the name of their positions.
  • Commis Chefs are kind of like the interns of a kitchen. They are generally aspiring chefs who have completed or still undergoing training or cooking classes. A commis chef works under a line chef by helping him/her and learning at the same time.
  • Kitchen Porters or Kitchen Assistants are the helping hands of a kitchen working who doesn’t necessarily need formal culinary training. Their primary duties include cutting, peeling and chopping vegetables, basic food preparation etc. while also cleaning the kitchen.
  • Dishwashers have a pretty straightforward set of duties — washing cutlery and dishes. They help with keeping the flow of clean cutleries and plates for food preparation.

Depending upon your work experience, skills and expertise, you can start at any level mentioned above and work your way to the top.

Back to School?

Before we begin, let’s clear something up first. Institutionalised education from culinary schools always helps in being a professional chef, but they are not mandatory. Formal education is there to help you out with basic ideas and recognition. Still, they are not the substitute for the hustle and bustle of a busy kitchen!

To sum up, you have to cook to be a cook. As for recognition, you always go for online courses and training. That way you’ll learn all there is to know in your own time and start practising in your kitchen right away. The professional certification will also come in handy to get a work placement at a kitchen along with your extensive knowledge of cookery. You can check out the following online training for a professional diploma:

Online Professional Chef Course

Be More Organised and Systematic

No matter how you have lived your life up until now, it doesn’t matter now. The moment you decide on being a professional chef is the moment your way of life changes. A chef has to be organised and systematic in everything he/she does. Otherwise, the whole system and chain-of-command of a kitchen will fail. Plan thoroughly before taking any action, however small it may be.

Practice Makes a Professional Chef Perfect!

There is no end to learning something, especially when it comes to cooking! Learning more on cooking means practising and experimenting more. You can’t stop even if you are a Chef de Cuisine. There is always a new dish or a new cooking technique to try for you to improve yourself. So, if you are working in a kitchen as a professional chef or just aspiring to be one, keep cooking and trying harder at home.

If you are working as a commis chef, then you have to learn from your line chef. If you’ve worked your way up to be a sous chef, then learn from the head chef. That is what every professional chef do around the world.

Fluent in the Language of Cooking!

Have you ever noticed with all the different languages in different regions and cultures? So do their food and cuisines, right? Well, before calling yourself a professional chef, you better get acquainted with as many as possible!

In your professional cooking career, you will stumble upon opportunities to work in so many different kitchens offering different cuisines to the customers. So, being accustomed to the popular cuisines and foreign dishes will definitely give you an upper hand to boost your career.

Don’t Forget a Healthy Meal!

Here’s something chefs tend not to give proper attention which is not a good practice — nutrition of the food. The food you prepare as a chef has to be nutritious on top of being delicious. Complete disregard of this may result in a bad impression among the conscious customer base.

Let’s face it — you don’t have time to be a nutritionist just to prepare some food. But you can always learn what’s necessary with online resources and crash courses. If you want certification with your learning on the health & nutrition of food, then you can check this out:

Online Course on Health & Nutrition

Collaborate More!

Teamwork is crucial for kitchen people, as all of them depend on one another for a systemic cooking process. One tiny flaw in collaboration and coordination may hamper the entire system and significantly decrease productivity.
When you are in a kitchen full of chefs and workers, try to make a connection with them for a better output. Try to listen more and collaborate with your superiors as well as your subordinates in the kitchen. When everyone gets to give their opinion on everything from a change in the recipe to editing the menu, that’s when the real magic happens! Being a professional chef, you have to consider everyone’s opinion and innovative ideas to improve yourself.

Food Safety and Hygiene

Hygiene and sanitation is part of what makes a kitchen a professional one. Famous restaurants and hotels have to keep the kitchen environment healthy so that food safety laws are maintained, and customers remain satisfied. So a professional chef, no matter what his/her role is in the hierarchy, should know how to keep the kitchen clean and up to hygiene standards

As an aspiring chef, you should know about common safety hazards of a kitchen and preparing a dish. Moreover, disinfecting your workstation keeps you, your co-workers and the food you prepare safe and secure.

To get a detailed understanding of the topics mentioned above, you can check out the comprehensive online training below:

 

Online Training on Food Hygiene & Safety - Level 1

Remember the Numbers

As a responsible chef of the kitchen, you have to know the prices of every ingredient in your kitchen. Additionally, you must learn how to calculate the cost behind any plate/dish of food in a jiffy. It will help you to put a price tag on your menu easily. You will then make tweaks on the ingredients or items of food, keeping the price in mind.

This skill also comes in handy to standardise the calories on a plate with enough nutrition and adjusting the price accordingly. The labour cost behind your food as well the inventory management will be more clear to you if you know the numbers by your heart. The more equipped you are with these numbers, the more professional you can be as a chef.

Be Quick & Precise

So, you can cook well, and that’s marvellous. But can you take hours preparing a dish and expect to be a professional chef? How precise you are with your cooking techniques is also crucial as the quality of food relies on it. So it’s clear why this combination of speed and accuracy is needed in your cookery.
No matter how good you are with your knowledge and skills, your time-efficiency and accuracy will determine how far you can go in the profession. Nothing says a professional chef like a skilled culinary artist who prepares food quickly and precisely. It further allows him/her to serve both the needs of the kitchen and the customer.

Utilise Critiques to Improve Yourself

Here’s an important lesson to be a full-fledged professional chef (and a life lesson too!). Never lose hope or get irritated by the comments and critiques of your food. Instead, take it as constructive remarks and try to utilise them in your future works. If you believe that there’s no end to improving yourself, you’ll start to love your critics and their comments.

Coming to the end of this list s, you must have learned what it takes to be a professional chef. You can start chasing the dream right away by following the above steps. If you want a guided path toward being a professionally certified chef, you can get started with this online training right away: 
No matter how good you are with your knowledge and skills, your time-efficiency and accuracy will determine how far you can go in the profession. Nothing says a professional chef like a
skilled culinary artist who prepares food quickly and precisely. It further allows him/her to serve both the needs of the kitchen and the customer.


Coming to the end of this list s, you must have learned what it takes to be a professional chef. You can start chasing the dream right away by following the above steps. If you want a guided path toward being a professionally certified chef, you can get started with this online training right away:

Here’s to your journey to be a professional chef!

Diploma in Professional Chef

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