Being a chef is an exciting and highly challenging profession. Do you enjoy cooking, and think you would like to make a career of it in the state of Pennsylvania? If so, read on. This article is what you have been looking for.
What Does a Chef Do?
Chefs carry out a variety of different tasks. The specific tasks that a chef will be responsible for depends on what type of chef he or she is. Examples of different chef job titles include head or executive chef (or chef de cuisine), who is at the very top of the kitchen hierarchy; sous chef, the chef working directly below the head chef; private household chef; chef de partie, a chef in charge of one station or specific area in the kitchen; commis, most often an inexperienced chef who may have just finished culinary school and who works under the supervision of a chef de partie; pastry chef; and saucier, a chef who specializes in sautéing food, and making appetizers, stews, and sauces (when a kitchen has a saucier, he or she is often given a rank only beneath the head chef and sous chefs).
If you want to be a chef, you probably hope to one day reach the level of head or executive chef. The head or executive chef is in charge of the entire kitchen and all staff working within it, and has many different duties. He or she is responsible for ensuring that all ingredients and food used in the kitchen are fresh, as well as create and develop recipes. It is up to the head chef to determine how dishes will be presented, and design and plan the menus of the establishment. The chef is responsible for making sure that the meals being produced are of good quality, and he or she must supervise cooks and other food preparation workers in the kitchen, coordinating their activities and tasks. The head chef is the person who selects and trains all of the kitchen’s cooks and food preparation workers, and who makes sure that the kitchen satisfies all proper safety and hygiene standards. He or she must also carry out inspections of the kitchen’s work areas, equipment, and supplies in order to ensure that everything is functional and clean. The head chef is also responsible for the food and supplies inventory, ensuring that information on the inventory is up to date and that necessary orders are made. You might need to use special purchasing and scheduling software in order to carry out any administrative tasks that might be required. As you can easily gather here, being a head chef is a very responsible job requiring high levels of knowledge and skill in the culinary arts and business.
All chefs must be able to successfully use many different kinds of cooking and kitchen equipment, such as grinders, meat slicers, step-in coolers, and knives of the best quality.
As a chef, you must be ready to work long hours. Additionally, you will likely often have to work late in the evening, early in the morning, on holidays, and on weekends. This is just one reason why dedication is a critically important factor in a successful career as a chef. No matter how technically proficient you might become in cooking, if you are not fully dedicated to your profession you will find it very difficult to achieve long-lasting success. In the culinary arts, you really have to truly enjoy and love what you do.
What Qualities and Characteristics Do I Need to Be a Successful Chef?
Being a chef is a wonderfully fulfilling job for someone who truly loves practicing the culinary arts at a professional level, but it is also a very high pressure career. If you want to be successful as a chef, you will need many specific personal qualities, including:
• A sharp sense of taste and smell: It is impossible to succeed as a chef without a well-developed and sophisticated sense of taste and smell. This is essential for you to be able to competently inspect the quality of the food the kitchen is producing, as well as design meals.
• Creativity: The successful chef needs a high level of creativity. This is necessary in order to successfully create and execute intriguing and delicious recipes. You need to be able to “think outside the box,” while always ensuring that your vast array of culinary knowledge is always brought into play.
• The ability to lead: As the person in charge of the entire kitchen, strong leadership skills are absolutely crucial for the head chef. The other people working in the kitchen must see you as the leader.
• Excellent communication skills: Strong communicational skills are necessary for chefs to be able to communicate with the kitchen staff with clarity and efficiency.
• Strong business skills: Sound business skills are especially important for head chefs and for chefs who are self-employed. The business skills required include, for example, worker management, the ability to set prices, and the ability to make appropriate supply budgets.
• Highly effective time management skills: Time management skills are absolutely crucial for a successful career as a chef.
• Physical stamina: The fact that chefs are very often required to spend huge amounts of time on their feet and work long shifts means that physical stamina is necessary in this career.
• Physical dexterity: Dexterity is very important for chefs. This is especially crucial when using knives for dicing, chopping, and cutting.
• Dedication: Being a chef is a career that requires a true love for the craft of cooking as well as the process of running a kitchen.
To become a chef in Pennsylvania, you should first receive an education in the culinary arts. Not only will such an education make you far more employable than otherwise (for example, than if you only did an apprenticeship), it will also help to set you up for a successful career. It will also give you a competitive advantage when applying for jobs with high paying employers, and in metropolitan areas. Furthermore, having a formal culinary arts education will make you likely to be able to climb the kitchen hierarchy in your career much more quickly than otherwise. You will probably find employers willing to trust you with higher levels of responsibility more quickly than they would have done if you had lacked formal training.
An education in the culinary arts in Pennsylvania can be obtained at culinary schools, community colleges and technical schools, and even universities. Culinary arts programs range from around one to four years in duration. Culinary school, community college, and technical schools programs tend to be on the shorter end of the spectrum, while university programs are on the longer end. If you complete your education at a culinary school or technical school, you will likely earn a culinary certificate, while if you choose a community college you will earn an associate degree in the culinary arts. If you choose to do your culinary education at a university, you will earn a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts. Bachelor degree programs are particularly strong in teaching the administrative and management skills needed by executive chefs, as well as the finer points of table service.
It is advisable to get some experience working in a kitchen before making the decision to enter a culinary arts program, as it will give you a better idea of working in a kitchen is really the career for you. You will have to be prepared to start at the bottom, doing tasks that you will probably find quite uninspiring (such as washing the dishes). You will also need to make sure that you have your high school diploma (or GED), as most culinary schools, community colleges, and technical schools require this for entry to their programs. Another important consideration is that many employers will actually want you to have your high school diploma or equivalent, as well as your culinary education.
Your culinary education program should provide you with a large amount of time working and learning in the school’s kitchens. Also, it should provide the opportunity to complete an internship or apprenticeship in a real commercial kitchen, to give you invaluable experience as well as networking opportunities. You should ensure that your chosen school’s kitchen facilities are well-equipped, and that the institution provides job placement services and career guidance. It is also very beneficial to have instructors who are extremely experienced in the field.
Pennsylvania is a wonderful place to complete your culinary arts education, as it has such a vibrant food and restaurant scene. This is especially the case in the large metropolitan areas, such as Philadelphia. Pennsylvania has several chef competitions that culinary students can participate in, such as the Mid-Atlantic Young Chef Competition and the Pennsylvania “Taste of Elegance” competition. There are also many wonderful food events in the state, such as the Taste of Pennsylvania Wine and Food Show, Pittsburgh Wine Festival, Pittsburgh Farm to Table, and the Pennsylvania Food and Beverage Show.
While you are completing your education, think about getting a student membership in the American Culinary Federation or a similar association or organization. Having such a membership will give you many advantages, such as making contact with experienced people in the industry and having the opportunity to network.
Once you have finished your education and have started working as a chef, you have the option of getting chef’s certifications. These certifications are not required, but they are an excellent way of demonstrating your skill and making you more attractive to employers. There are 14 certification designations available from the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The American Culinary Federation (ACF) is the United States’ most extensive association of professional chefs and cooks, and has 200 chapters all over the country and in excess of 17,000 members. The 14 certification designations are organized into the five areas of Culinary Administrators; Culinary Educators; Baking and Pastry Professionals; Cooking Professionals; and Personal Cooking Professionals.
Chefs’ salaries vary widely and depend on factors such as employer, region, and the chef’s level of experience. It is common for the highest chef salaries to be found in upscale restaurants and hotels, especially in large cities and resort regions. The median annual salary for head chefs in the United States is $41,500 (or $19.95 per hour).
The average head chef salary in Pennsylvania is $43,090 per year. Average salary for head chefs varies quite a bit from city to city and town to town in Pennsylvania. For example, in Philadelphia, the average salary is $52,970 (which, as you can see, is substantially more than the national or Pennsylvania average), while in Johnstown it is $46,300 and in Erie it is $42,340. Pennsylvania is known for its vibrant restaurant and food service industry, and the state is full of exciting opportunities.
Job growth for chefs in the United States is faster than the average of other occupations. Chefs are becoming in progressively greater demand, and are being hired in many non-traditional venues as a result of general consumer demand for healthier foods. Examples of such non-traditional work venues include cafeterias and grocery stores. Chefs are sometimes employed in institutional settings such as health-care facilities and schools, as well as corporate centers.
The majority of chefs work on a full-time basis. Only about 5% of chefs are self-employed (for example, have their own restaurants or catering business). Having one’s own restaurant or catering business is a dream of many, but it is something that should only be ventured upon when a chef has a great deal of experience and business knowledge. It is also important to remember that chefs who own their own businesses often spend a great deal more than 40 hours working every week.