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Executive Chef Jobs - How To Become An Executive Chef

Updated on March 22, 2012

There is an increasing demand for executive chefs, who have the right combination of skill, and education.

JOB SUMMARY

This is a demanding and stressful job. Executive chefs are responsible for every dish that leaves the kitchen, its taste, appearance, portion size, freshness, and conformity. Executive chefs vary menus to adapt to ingredient availability, changing trends, seasons, diets, and budgetary limitations. They create new dishes, train staff, supervise the preparation of food, interact with vendors, inspect shipments, and oversee all aspects of kitchen cleanliness, order, activity, and organization. Chefs also interact with their customers, to ensure satisfaction, gauge reactions to menu changes, and resolve problems.

Executive chefs must work long hours, during the week, on weekends, and on holidays. Their work environment may be hot, noisy, and seemingly chaotic, with a non-stop pace, but executive chefs love this life and all it entails. Executive chefs may find employment in a variety of locations, including restaurants, hotels, the armed forces, and all manner of holiday resorts.

To become successful, executive chefs must be dedicated, imaginative, well-organized, hard-working, and physically fit. They need to have good manual dexterity and steady hands. They need to have a superior sense of taste and smell, as well as a creative flair, as the food they present must be appealing in both appearance and taste. Executive chefs must be even tempered, and good team leaders. They must have excellent communication skills and be able to perform under stress, with both patience, and tact.

EDUCATION AND OTHER REQUIREMENTS

It takes a great deal of experience to become an executive chef, so start early. Get any job you can working in the food industry. If you are too young for a paying job, volunteer in a hospital or nursing home kitchen. All jobs, no matter how menial, can be learning experiences. Even if you are only washing pots and pans or busing tables, if you listen and watch, you will learn. Work hard and try to move up in the chain until you are actually taking part in food preparation.

While in high school, take courses in English, mathematics, computers, art, science, and any related to business or the food industry.

In the past, some individuals have started as line cooks, and then, with in-house training, have eventually advanced to become executive chefs.

A better, and probably easier, alternative would be to start off by taking formal culinary training. Culinary training programs are available from culinary schools, as well as some technical and vocational schools.

Many culinary courses are available, but you must make sure the one you choose is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. These are the courses that will best equip you to become certified. The American Culinary Federation publishes lists of accredited programs offered throughout the United States.

Once you have completed your training, you will be eligible to seek work as a chef. To become a renowned executive chef takes many years of training and experience. It is only in very small restaurants, that you may be hired immediately as executive chef. In larger more prestigious establishments, you will need some experience as a lower level chef before proving your skills, and advancing to the post of executive chef.

It would be wise to get your certification as soon as you get your first job, even though it may not be required. Certification is proof of both your knowledge and your skill.

The American Culinary Federation also provide information concerning available apprenticeships. Apprentices are able to work as chefs-in-training, under the supervision of knowledgeable, experienced, professional chefs. Apprenticeships pay a small salary, and are for a set period of time, after which the apprentice may be hired permanently, or else will be required to seek work elsewhere.

The American Culinary Federation offers a wealth of information for anyone who is interested in a career as an executive chef. Their web site is: http://www.acfchefs.org/


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    • billips profile imageAUTHOR

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Hi Sheila - thanks for reading and commenting - I simply don't have the skill to be a chef, but I am fascinated watching them and do admire the work they do - B.

    • sheilanewton profile image

      sheilanewton 

      6 years ago from North Shields, UK

      Don't want to be a chef - nevertheless I found this an interesting article. Thanks, bilips.

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Hi Daisynicolas - you are right about the hard work - I love watching professionals cook - their creativity and knowledge are truly admirable - not to mention their knife skills - thanks for reading and commenting - B.

    • daisynicolas profile image

      daisynicolas 

      6 years ago from Alaska

      You've covered the major requirements of the job. It's not glamorous like it's shown on TV. It's hard physical labor.

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Nice to hear from you teaches 12345 - you're right - a restaurant's success depends largely on having a great chef - B.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      6 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading through your hub. I have known a few restaurants that lost their executive chef and suffered great loss of clients. They are unique to their industry and are priceless when it comes to creating food dishes that keep people coming back for more.

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Thank you for commenting -Chef Franson must be one of those specially gifted chefs - anyone can gain knowledge, but that special skill is innate - B.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I write SEO articles for a restaurant in Fort Worth called Chef Point Cafe. Interesting story with Chef Franson, one of the owners. Nigerian born, no formal culinary training and now quite well known in culinary circles. Interesting hub with some great information.

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