Chef: Education Requirements for Becoming a Chef

Published Sep 06, 2009

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With continued expansion of the food services industry, opportunities for Chefs are plentiful. Chefs can complete their education through associate's degree, professional and 4-year programs. The following article provides information on Chef careers and the education required to become a Chef.

Education Requirements for Becoming a Chef

Chef Career Summary

Chefs work in restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, hospitals, personal residents and education institutions providing meal preparation and planning. They plan meals, develop recipes, purchase ingredients, order supplies, direct the cooking staff and prepare food. A head Chef, or executive Chef, is responsible for the overall operations of the kitchen or restaurant. A sous Chef assists the head Chef and does much of the food preparation. Specialty Chefs, such as pastry Chefs, are responsible for a specific area.

Education Required to Become a Chef

Most employers prefer to hire Chefs with some formal training. Training programs may take the form of an associate's degree through a community college or a program offered by a professional culinary institute. An associate's program generally lasts two years. Professional programs last two to four years. Some universities offer 4-year degree programs as well. Shorter programs focus on basic techniques, including food handling, sanitation procedures, nutrition, knife skills and basic cooking methods. Longer programs and professional programs continue with menu planning, advanced techniques, purchasing, inventory methods and food service management.

Job Training and Certifications Required to Become a Chef

Many educational programs include an internship or other opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the kitchen. Even after completing a formal educational program, many Chefs begin additional training under experienced Chefs. Other Chefs participate in apprenticeship programs, such as those sponsored by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), www.acfchefs.org. The ACF also offers professional certification with 14 different designations. To become certified, Chefs must meet the education and experience requirements and pass both written and practical exams.

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