Culinary Careers: Courses, Colleges, Training and Career Path of a Chef
Do you like being in the kitchen and helping your parents out with cooking? Do you take charge of the kitchen on Sundays to try out a new dish for your family? Do you often think to become a chef when you watch the Master Chef series? If the answer is yes to all those questions, you should definitely read this post on culinary careers and career as a chef.
Career as Chef – Top Courses, Best Colleges, Required Training & Skills, Jobs, and Salaries
Being a chef is awesome. At present, cooking is more than just being confined to a traditional kitchen. It’s a high flying career with a lot of challenges and rewarding opportunities. But, it also takes years of hard work. Additionally, you should also possess a bucket of few essential skills and training. So, let’s have a look how to become a chef and the career path of a chef.
Required Education & Training to Become a Chef
Required Qualifications to Become a Chef
Well, formal education is not mandatory to become a chef. After all, you can get into cooking by reading recipes online or watching videos on YouTube.
But, if you want to achieve great heights in your career as a chef (a high-end chef), then a relevant degree or diploma (in addition to training or apprenticeship) will help you in several ways. You can do a diploma course in culinary arts or hotel & hospitality management after your high school to get into the culinary world. However, a formal Bachelor degree is always advantageous.
What can you study to become a chef?
- Associate Degree or Diploma in Culinary Arts, Food Production, Catering Technology
- Diploma in Food and Beverage Science
- Diploma in Hotel or Hospitality Management
- Bachelors in Culinary Arts (or Bachelors in Catering and Culinary Arts)
- Bachelors in Hotel or Hospitality Management
- Bachelors in Home Science
- Postgraduate Diploma in Culinary Arts
How to make it big in the culinary field?
As a starter, I will recommend a Bachelor in Hotel or Hospitality Management followed by a Diploma in Culinary Arts.
Don’t confuse hospitality management with culinary arts!
A hospitality management degree will lead you to a career in Food and Beverage Service, Accommodation Operations, Travel & Tourism and Front Office. But, if you really want to become a chef, then ideally you should take up Professional Food Production courses such as culinary courses.
Why should you do a bachelor in hotel or hospitality management followed by a professional culinary arts program?
As I mentioned before, there is no hard and fixed path to become a chef. But, a bachelor in hotel or hospitality management followed by culinary arts program will really help you in the long-term; especially if you want to become a high-end chef or Michelin starred chefs like Sanjeev Kapoor, Gordon Ramsay or Vikas Khanna.
This career path will expose you to a variety of cuisines from around the world. Additionally, you will learn about the business aspects of running a food or restaurant business. A hospitality management course will train you in all the four basic aspects of hospitality management. After all, people visit restaurants, cafes, bars not to just have good food. They also expect excellent customer service, a nice atmosphere, and memorable experience. Hence, it’s very critical that you learn to market your food preparations for your customers’ five senses. A professional culinary program (say a post-graduate diploma) will help you to specialize in the arts & business of professional cooking.
Who is a Michelin Starred Chef?
A Michelin Star is the most coveted award that any chef aspires for. It’s kind of a milestone in the career path of a chef. For a chef, gaining a Michelin star can make a career, paving the way for further investment in their restaurant and brand.
In reality, there is no such thing as a Michelin-starred chef. The Michelin star is actually awarded to a restaurant. But, the credit, of course, goes to the chef in charge of the kitchen. Emphasis is given to the food. Michelin awards a maximum of three stars to the best hotels, restaurants, and food establishments.
- A single star means the food served at the restaurant is of excellent quality in its category.
- Two stars denote the food is good enough to take a detour for.
- Three stars mean the restaurant serves such excellent food that it deserves a special visit.
Michelin (a French company) reviews every the property 18 months (as per their claims) unless they receive a specific complaint about a place, in which case they will form an emergency review strike team. Meet the world’s most decorated Michelin star chefs.
Top Institutes to Study Culinary Arts & Hotel Management
Where can you study in Culinary Arts or Hotel Management in India?
If you want to study the 3-year course, you could consider the institutes registered under the National Council of Hotel Management. The private institutes generally offer 4-year degree programs.
List of Central Govt. Institutes of Hotel Management (IHMs)
- Institute of Hotel Management, Bengaluru
- Institute of Hotel Management, Bhopal
- Institute of Hotel Management, Bhubaneshwar
- Institute of Hotel Management, Chennai
- Ambedkar Institute of Hotel Management, Chandigarh
- Institute of Hotel Management, New Delhi
- Institute of Hotel Management, Gandhinagar
- Institute of Hotel Management, Bardez (Goa)
- Institute of Hotel Management, Gurdaspur
- Institute of Hotel Management, Guwahati
- Institute of Hotel Management, Gwalior
- Institute of Hotel Management, Hajipur
- Institute of Hotel Management, Hyderabad
- Institute of Hotel Management, Jaipur
- Institute of Hotel Management, Kolkata
- Institute of Hotel Management, Lucknow
- Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai
- Institute of Hotel Management, Shillong
- Institute of Hotel Management, Kufri (Shimla)
- Institute of Hotel Management, Rajbagh (Srinagar)
List of State Government Institutes of Hotel Management
- Chandigarh Institute of Hotel Management
- Delhi Institute of Hotel Management
- Institute of Hotel Management, Dehradun
- Institute of Hotel Management, Faridabad
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Gangtok
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Jodhpur
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Kozhikode
- Institute of Hotel Management, Kurukshetra
- Institute of Hotel Management, Bathinda
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Hamirpur
- Institute of Hotel Management, Karad (Silvassa)
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Thuvakudi (Trichirapalli)
- Institute of Hotel Management, Rohtak
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Pondicherry
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Panipat
- NITHM Hyderabad
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Indore
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Tirupati
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Yamuna Nagar
- Telangana State Institute of Hotel Management
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Durgapur
- State Institute of Hotel Management, Ranchi
- Ashok Institute of Hotel Management, New Delhi
Top Private Institutes for Hotel & Hospitality Management in India
- Indian Institute of Hotel Management (Taj Group), Aurangabad
- Welcomgroup Graduate School of Hotel Administration, Manipal
- Oriental School of Hotel Management, Kozhikode
- Merit Swiss Asian School of Hotel Management, Ooty
- Le Cordon Bleu School of Hospitality, GD Goenka University
- Army Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Bengaluru
- RN Shetty College of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Hubli
- Kadandala Krishna Rao Memorial College of Hotel Management, Bengaluru
- Chandigarh College of Hotel Management, Mohali
- Chitkara School of Hospitality, Patiala
- Deshbhagat Institute of Hotel Management, Mandi Gobindgarh
- K C College of Hotel Management, Jalandhar
- Institute of Hotel Management, Meerut
- Oriental School of Hotel Management, Wayanad (Kerala)
- Ranjita Institute of Hotel Management, Bhubaneshwar
- Institute of Hotel Management- Shri Shakti, Hyderabad
- SRM Institute of Hotel Management, Kancheepuram
- Munnar Catering College, Munnar
- C T Institute of Hotel Management, Jalandhar
- St.Soldier Institute of Hotel Management, Jalandhar
- The Lalit Suri Hospitality School, Faridabad
- Gurunanak Institute of Hotel Management, Kolkata
Apart from these, there are institutes run by reputed hotel chains and some private institutes with foreign affiliations and approvals from the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE).
The courses run by reputed hotel chains (e.g. The Taj Group, Oberoi, Welcomgroup etc.) are can be very helpful because of the infrastructure, the faculty they provide and the future prospects they offer.
They enable the students to imbibe the exacting levels of service. Students may also be absorbed by the parent company post the training.
Top Schools for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management Abroad
- Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne (EHL)
- Culinary Institute of America (Hyde Park)
- Institute of Culinary Education (ICE)
- Le Cordon Bleu London
- Culinary Institute of America (Greystone)
- Le Cordon Bleu College
- Westminster Kingsway College
- Cornell School of Hotel Administration (Cornell University)
- Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
- The Academy of Culinary Arts – London
- New England Culinary Institute
- William F. Harrah College of Hotel Administration (University of Nevada)
- Les Roches International School of Hotel Management
- Rosen College of Hospitality Management (University of Central Florida)
- Kendall College School of Culinary Arts
- Hotelschool The Hague
- Oxford School of Hospitality Management (Oxford Brookes University)
- Glion Institute of Higher Education
- Eli Broad College of Business, School of Hospitality Business (Michigan State)
- Pamplin College of Business, Dept. of Hospitality & Tourism Management (Virginia Tech)
How to choose a Culinary Program?
Check out if the institute provides both academic and hands-on experience (internships and apprenticeships). Culinary Arts, much like any other area of the arts and sciences requires that you get “down and dirty” and actually try the techniques you are learning about in the classroom. A good school atmosphere is equally important.
Check out the faculty members; you have to work with great chefs to become a successful chef. Additionally, focus on the reputation of the School, portfolio of the recruiters, and success record of the alumni.
Culinary Career Path, Skills, Jobs, and Salaries
How is the career path after education to be a Chef?
After your education, you need to work as an intern for apprenticeship. After joining the food & restaurant industry, you have to work your way up the career ladder – Commi Chefs (Commi 3, Commi 2, Commi 1) – also known as Assistant Chef or Cook.
You will then move on to become a junior and then senior Chef de Partie. Then comes the position of the Sous Chef. A Sous Chef is the kitchen in-charge. The highest title one can get is that of Chief Chef, Executive Chef or Head Chef. It’s all about rising through the ranks.
It is also possible to bypass the formal education part (if you have got really good skills and some kind of portfolio), and start your apprenticeship under a good chef. But, more often than not, a good chef always prefers a degree or diploma holder as an intern.
How long does it take to become a Chef?
It usually takes around 2 years to become a chef after apprenticeship (or training). It then takes another 4 – 5 years to become a Sous Chef.
In about 10-12 years, a chef can reach the position of executive chef. An executive or head chef is kind of manager. As the executive chef, you will be responsible for all food and kitchen related decisions, including shopping list, deciding the menu, and innovating new recipes and dishes.
Where can Chefs Work?
- Cruise Lines
- Country Clubs
- Private Businesses
- Community Centers
- Healthcare Facilities
- Fast Food Restaurants
- Grocery Stores
- Private Homes
- Convention Centers
- Corporate Kitchens
- Royal Kitchens
- Government Institutions
How much does a Chef Earn?
At the starting phase, you can earn something between Rs. 7,000 to 10,000 per month as an intern. A Commis Chef earns something between Rs. 14,000 and Rs. 18,000 monthly (Glassdoor). If you end up at brands like Novotel or Marriot, you can expect Rs. 20,000 per month.
If you are innovative and competent at your job, you can expect to draw close to Rs 60,000 per month as Sous Chef – after 5 to 8 years post-training. As an executive chef, you can earn Rs 70K to 1 Lac per month at reputed hotel properties or banquets.
In addition to the salary, there are good opportunities for perks and incentives as well. After working a few years as Sous or Executive chef, you can also open up your restaurant or food joint.
Outside India, the average salary is $24,000 per annum at the starting level. Within 4 – 6 years, you can earn something between $46,000 and $72,000 per year. The median hourly wage of a chef in the US is $10.44 (2013 data). Below is the table of annual salaries of chefs in India as per PayScale.
Required Skills to become a Chef
- Culinary Skills (Cooking)
- Attention to Details
- Business Sense
- Team player
- Fast-Paced Decision Making
Pros and Cons of being a Chef
- Creatively satisfying
- Out of the box thinking
- Good remuneration
- Fame; good chance of glitz and glamour
- Long, undecided late hours
- Lots of stamina require
- Constantly challenged
- No room for mistakes
The job of a chef is very fast-paced and can be stressful. It also involves standing for long periods of time which can be physically grueling. Injuries are common and usually involve cuts, burns, slips, and falls.
One of the most challenging natures of this career would be that you will be under more pressure during the festive seasons and holidays. You could rarely spend time with family and friends during the festivals. Besides, shifts are like 12 hours a day. So, you really need motivation, sincerity, and stamina to be successful in this career.
Alternative Career Paths
Related Article: Choosing a Chef’s Life as an Alternative Career Option
Author: Tanmoy Ray
I am a Career Adviser & MS Admission Consultant. Additionally, I also manage online marketing at Stoodnt. I did my Masters from the UK (Aston University) and have worked at the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), University of New South Wales (Australia) and MeetUniversity (India).
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