“If an architect makes a mistake, he grows ivy to cover it. If a doctor makes a mistake, he covers it with soil. If a cook makes a mistake, he covers it with some sauce and says it is a new recipe.” - Paul Bocuse
Cooking lessons can help both professionals and amateurs.
So how can you take your passion for cooking further?
In this article, we’re going to have a look at what you can study if you want to become a chef, the best cooking schools in the UK, where you can work once you've become a chef, and how much chefs typically earn.
What Can You Study to Become a Chef?
Both students and those looking to change careers will be asking themselves the question. Cooking dishes professionally is a job that you have to take seriously.
So how do you get started as a chef?
Whether you’re changing careers or in school, there are a few different courses you can do.
You have a few options:
- Professional Chef Diploma (NVQ Levels 1, 2, and 3)
- Foundation Degree in Culinary Arts
- Craft Bakery City and Guilds Level 2
- Advanced Chef Diploma
These courses last between a month and three years and are useful if you want to work as a chef. Additionally, there are several other qualifications you can study.
Preparing food, buying ingredients, supply, doneness, etc. There’s more to it than just cooking. Budding chefs also need to learn about hygiene and safety. They’ll need to manage stock, finances, and learn all the skills necessary to work in the foodservice industry.
There are qualifications at all levels for those wishing to be a chef. From GCSEs to Master’s Degrees in the Culinary Arts and there are also specialised courses and qualifications for specific types of cooking and skills. There are many famed cooking schools around the UK, too. Of course, some of them will cost you a pretty penny to attend.
Whatever you choose, make sure it’s the right choice for you and your career. If you’re passionate about cooking, the rest will fall into place.
Which Are the Best Cooking Schools in the UK?
There are cooking schools all over the UK. Some are better than others and budding chefs can learn more once they’ve finished school.
The very best cooking schools can be counted on both hands. They include:
- Le Cordon Bleu London
- Tante Marie Culinary Academy
- Westminster Kingsway College
- Royal Academy of Culinary Arts
These are great places to learn how to cook.
The quality of their courses, their reputation, and their esteemed alumni. Having qualifications from one of these schools or academies will do wonders for your CV and job prospects. A lot of recruiters will recognise certain schools and be more willing to employ someone who studied there, especially if it happens to be their alma mater. Additionally, many are known for the quality of teaching and graduate they produce. Similarly, they’ll know that they’ve been taught by some of the best.
Cooking courses are very hands-on. Unlike other qualifications and subjects where a graduate can arrive at a job with very little real-world experience, when it comes to cooking and being a chef, you’ll have done most of it before. There are also plenty of fields you can specialise in.
Students who complete their courses can leave with some very specialised knowledge and in some cases, you’ll even be allowed to see cuisine from all over the world and try cooking it for yourself.
It can be really difficult to get into some of these schools. For some, the first barrier to entry is the cost of the courses. A lot of cooking schools can be quite expensive. For example, you can pay thousands for a course. There is financial aid available for certain courses and degrees, for example, but even if you can afford it, your application will need to be pretty special to be accepted.
Don't get discouraged. If you’re passionate, you can make it happen.
Where Can You Work as a Chef?
Once you’ve finished your studies, it’ll be time to look for work.
But where can you apply to as a chef?
There are different ways to get into catering.
A lot of young chefs dreams of joining the world’s most famous restaurants. However, working in a Michelin-starred restaurant takes a lot of work, grit, and determination. If you didn’t attend a famed cookery school, it’ll be difficult to start your career in these types of restaurant.
You might have to start with lesser-known restaurants. Just because it doesn’t have a Michelin star, it doesn’t mean it’s a bad restaurant. There’s a huge range of restaurants to explore. You need to find a restaurant that works for you.
If you’re not interested in any of them, why not start your own restaurant?
Stock management, preparing menus, managing staff, creating dishes, etc. It’ll be a lot of work but it’ll also be more satisfying. Nevertheless, restaurants aren’t the only way to work in the foodservice industry.
There are other kitchens you can work in: School canteens, at a business, nursing homes, etc. There are a lot of places to challenge you as a chef. You could also do seasonal work in hotel chains or at campsites where there’s a lot of demand in the summer. This is a great opportunity for those who like to travel and work in new places.
For those who prefer more independence, you could always teach a cooking class or work as a personal chef. All this freedom can come at a cost, though.
How Much Do Chefs Earn?
It’s unlikely that chefs are going to go away any time soon. There are plenty of job offers for them as chefs are almost always in demand. This is why it’s quite uncommon for chefs not to find work.
You can work as a commis chef under the restaurant’s main chef, for example. Restaurants may struggle to find a great chef among their commis chefs since you don’t need a lot of experience to work as a commis chef.
No matter what your role is (chef de partie, commis chef, etc.), the most important thing is to gain experience and climb the ladder. The more experience you have, the easier it’ll be to find a job. Without experience, you’ll never advance in the foodservice industry. However, there are plenty of career opportunities to get that experience.
Even though many people dream of working in fancy restaurants, others prefer to open their own restaurants. This is a career choice that takes a lot of motivation because you need to prepare the food as well as manage stock and do some of the administration for your restaurant.
In terms of salary, someone working in a restaurant won’t earn the same as a freelancer or someone who owns their own business. As an employee in a restaurant, head chefs earn an average of £29,000 per year. Generally speaking, the range is between £24k and £32k.
Perseverance and passion are the two main ingredients in the recipe for the perfect chef. If you don't fancy attending a culinary school or culinary institute, you could always get tutorials from a private tutor. Every culinary career starts by learning how to cook and food preparation, knife skills, menu planning, pastry arts, culinary skills, restaurant management, etc. You can't become a line cook and work your way up to sous chef and finally head chef without any experience or knowledge!
If you need to learn more about cooking, consider getting private tuition from one of the talented tutors on Superprof. There are many cooking tutors on the platform and there are three main types of tutorial available: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials.
Group tutorials include a single tutor and several students. While this dynamic means you won't get as much attention from your private tutor, you can save money by sharing the cost of your tutor's time with other students.
Face-to-face tutorials are just between you and the tutor and are tailored to the student. They tend to cost more because they're a bespoke service but they're also hugely cost-effective.
Finally, online tutorials are taught via webcam. With no travel costs and the ability to schedule more tutorials per week, the tutor can charge a more competitive rate for their tutorials.