8 useful tips for wannabe chefs

Thinking of entering the tourism / hospitality industry? It’s one of the fastest growing industries in our country, so there may be many chef jobs available, but you have to look around for them.

If you have a passion for food and for recipes and you love creating interesting combinations with ingredients more than anything else, then you should think of becoming a chef. The traditional career path to become one in South Africa is to enroll in a two year course in a culinary school. Once you’ve completed the course, you should have the skills you need to become a chef. Besides this you also need to be aware of a few other things, so here are 8 useful tips for all you wannabe chefs out there:

South African Chef1. No one cares about your CV: Most restaurants are not interested in experience you’ve had scrubbing the floor or cutting up vegetables. Wannabe chefs should be aware that restaurants want people who have cooking experience at bars / restaurants. If you’re good at making gourmet hamburgers and it’s on your resume, they want proof that you’re good at it, so they’ll shadow you as you’re working in their establishment to see if you can do the job they’re offering.

2. Don’t worry about what you get paid: If you are expecting a high salary with limited or no experience, you may be disappointed. Go to places where you want to work and wait for an opportunity to open up. They may pay you peanuts but they are your cooking school and they’ll mold you into the chef you will ultimately become one day. Put in extra hours, learn skills that you don’t know and get the experience and knowledge that you need to grow.

3. It’s all about work ethic and attitude: If you have a negative attitude and bad work ethic you won’t climb the chef career ladder quickly. Do what you do well and with passion and you’ll work better with your team at the restaurant. You don’t want to end up being a line chef for the rest of your life, right?

4. Learn and master the basics: Learn how to blanch a carrot, cook meat at a correct temperature, clarify a broth, etc. before you want to start making exotic dishes that require advanced culinary skills. Mastering your basic skills will make you a better chef in the long run.

5. Learn from Everyone: Learn from the staff you work with and let them learn from you. Don’t look down on the dishwasher because he/she knows how to do something better. Learning new things is part of being a chef.

6. If you want to be a chef because you want to be on TV, don’t become a chef: Successful chefs who are on TV are still professional chefs, not people looking to get famous. These chefs would still be in their kitchens if they weren’t on TV. They’re passionate, have spent years learning their craft, working hard and they’ve studied a lot to get where they are. In order to make it, loving to cook needs to be your life passion. You also need to be prepared to make sacrifices, so don’t consider a career in professional cooking if you’re chasing fame.

7. Don’t get involved in kitchen drama: There is and will always be talk in the kitchen where you’re working. Servers make more than you, cooks who are not as talented as you make more than you and people will mess things up and you will notice. Instead of getting sucked into confrontation, practice good work ethic, look beyond it and see the bigger picture. Help others, come in early, leave late and be the person that the chef can rely on instead.

8. Develop your own style: You can learn from many people, but great chefs create dishes that inspire them with the knowledge they’ve learned. Get inspired by other chefs and other restaurant and let it be a catalyst for you. Be creative and let your authentic self and personality come through in your food.

Well, there you have it, 8 useful tips for wannabe chefs. We trust that you find this information useful.

Looking for work in the tourism / hospitality industry? Check out the latest chef jobs on Job Mail.

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Henno Kruger

Digital Marketing Channel Co-ordinator / Blogger at Job Mail

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1 Response

  1. Busisiwe Sigasa says:

    Thank you very much with this useful Information. I’m very much Interested in Hospitality Course, but I wish to Start where a Chef star @ Culinary School. Please Assist in Helping me with Learnership or where they need Student with Passion in Cooking. Thank you

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