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I've been working in a 5 Star Hotel for about 4 months now, and in that time I've moevd from being a simple dishwasher to being our resident Sous Chef and Executive's Chef's lackey for our banquets, from setting up platters to creating food designs. During this time, I've learned to cook better food, and I'd like to expand my skills a little farther. Sooner or later I'll be moving to Canada, but would it be better for me to go here in the USA, or somewhere in Alberta? I'd assume here, mainly for the fact that I've got a pair of great chef's above me that I can learn from at the same time while going to school, but I figured I'd ask someone a bit more knowledgeable about it.
Howdy, it sounds like you are getting some good experience, finish up school and drain your chefs of their knowlege and the pursue a J-1 visa this is what will get you into the US... Read this Working In America

I have an 18 year old son who has completed 1 year at Lake County College during his Senior year of high school and is looking for an apprentice program in Europe. Are there any programs the you would recommend? If so, how do we get information about them?
I do not know of any organisation that helps with appreticeships in Europe. I would suggest that your son decides which country interests him most and then write to select 20 hotels and see what shakes...

I am doing a career project and how much education i would need to start my own resturant to cook?
A minimum of two years cooking education and at least five years expereience - at least!

Hi, I am currently 25 years old. I recently heard of a culinary school in Pasadena named California School of Culinary Arts. I was wondering if you could provide with inputs on the school's reputation.
Hi wes, thanks for your question, I am afraid that I do not know anything about that school, I am familiar with this organization as they have a school here in San Fran', it is a pretty good school and the students that I have worked with seem to have a good handle on things. The key thing with education is it is really the enthusiasm of the person teaching and the commitment of interest from that student that makes the big difference... Good luck!

I love to cook, and I have always wanted to open up my own restaurant. I just don't know what type of training should I to after. Should I take the Culinary Arts or the Restaurant & Hospitality Management training at the Western Culinary Insitute in Portland,OR?
It depends on whether you want to be the chef and run the restaurant or work the front and be the boss. If it is to be the chef... go for the first one if it is to be in the front of the house then do the second....

How much will I earn in my first position when I have finished cooking school.

It depends on where you live in the country. You can look at $10 if you are in a less expensive area upto $18 - 19 an hour if you were in San Francisco, New York of Vegas. As for experienced chef salaries you might want to read this - Big Earners

Also--- You might want to consider getting this book, it is a little on the expensive side but a worthwhile investment as it explains all of the different chef jobs a culinarian can work they way into, talks about a day in their life etc. it is very good... here is a link So You WAnt To Be A Chef?

I am 34 years old with a wife and 2 children (1 & 3). I have read many of the responses here and from other resources and the theme of "the first 8 years will be a finacial struggle" seem to common. I have looked at a local Vocational School with an accredited Culinary Arts program and feel like it is a good program. My concern is it unrealistic to expect to make a salary that will support my family in the years following completion of the program? I live in Oklahoma so the cost of living is a little below the national average I believe. While I do believe I would be successful in the industry I am afraid to put a large "burden" on my family while I "find my place". I realize this may be somewhat an ambigious question, I appriciate your time and look forward to your response.

I do see a trend with "older" graduates (sorry we are are only a year or so apart in age but we are not 18 anymore!) ... The trend is because they are or can be mature, reliable, genuinely interested they progress quicker so the burden may reduce by a couple of years or even more. If I were in your situation I would be looking at my current financial situation (if it is horrible now it will not get any better - can I afford to press ahead? And talk to my wife, if a partner supports a dream anything is possible, if she is the kind of lady that gets upset if I am an hour late home from work etc there is going to be a challenge, but if she is independent and supportive and can deal with me not being around so much and working wierd hours then I have got what I need...

Have you ever worked in a restaurant? If noe before you move ahead on this go and work in one for free for a few nights a week to check out the reality. This might be all you need to realize this game is for you, or that it is not... Good luck

I am interested in becoming a chef but would like to know what the average income for a chef is.
Well you can start out at $8 or $9 and hour and go up to about $125 000 in a good hotel, some earn even more (read this

Im doing research on my future career and I chose this one I need to know what are the duties, the alternate job titles or levels , the salary range, the best geographical location, how much education needed, and ways to move up in this career as a chef? Now if you could provide me with some of this information and also where can I find it.

Yazmin, you choose an interesting one. Not sure if I can answer all your questions as there is far too much info that you are asking for, so let me try to answer the basic stuff.

Your career as a chef generally starts with an apprenticeship in one form or another, different countries have different systems. In the US I would suggest you get yourself into a good culinary school for a 2 or 3 year course first. During your time there do as many extra work as you can in good restaurants or hotel kitchens in your free time.

After that the best thing to do is apply to join an international hotel chain or a very good restaurant to learn the basics (yes you won't be a star chef right after school), you generally start as a commis chef or another title might be cook b or cook a, really depending on the property you are working at. In terms of career path it work normally like this

Commis chef
Demi chef
Chef de partie
Junior Sous Chef
Sous Chef
Executive Sous Chef
Executive Chef

The vocabulary comes from the traditional French kitchens and is still present today in most if not all establishments.
It will generally take you about 10 years after the apprenticeship to work your way up to Executive sous chef, Executive chef position will then depend on you and your qualifications that you gained along the way.
If you start at the age of 17 you can aim for being an Ex. Chef by the time you are 30 or 31, that is a stretch but possible. I am of course talking only of a luxury hotel and restaurant bracket, if you want to be an ex.chef of a hamburger joint or a fast food restaurant you can reach that at 24.
As for location, any major city is ok. If you can do your apprentice ship in Europe, especially Germany, England, France, Switzerland etc it would be best as the basics are thought well and the industry standards are very high.
Also it would be advisable that you are flexible and not focused on one particular city. I have been in this industry 23 years and am now living in my 9th country, this is not for everybody.
Salaries, depend entirely on your knowledge and your level of experience as well as on the type of establishment you are working for.
I can tell you that good Ex. Chefs make above 100k a year and there is some that make 250k a year, but one thing is for sure for the first 8 or so years you won't be able to afford anything, as the salaries compared to the hours you put in are dismal. so really it only gets financially viable if you are good and if you are at the top or close to the top.
A good sous chef will make anywhere from 25 to 40k a year and a good ex. sous anywhere from 36 to 60k a year. Working abroad especially Asia is still the most lucrative, but if you are not a sous chef it will almost be impossible to obtain a work visa.
Anyway I hope I answered most of your questions. If there is anything in particular you still want to know send me an email. Regards Rainer Zinngrebe

Can you tell me if there is such a thing as a professional qualification for Chinese Chefs and if so where can it be obtained? Is there a course one needs to take or is it a school or what? (Answered by Rainer Zinngrebe)
Mainland China is the only place where there is full proper certification of Chinese Chef. Very complicated process that is mainly bureaucratic in nature,those that is certified as "Te Yi Ji" or supergrade Chefs are old guys like 60 years old and ready to retire. Moreover, it is not internationally reconised nor it is up to standards in my personal opinion. For example, one of the test subject is vegetable carving and the old Chinese presentation of dishes that we don't even dream of these days anymore.....

Shatec in Singapore and the trade association in Hong Kong does that too, but again, they are much more smaller in scale, and engage people like us to do the teaching and certification when I have never gone to a proper school myself.Although the National Trade Certificate (NTC2/3) courses offered by Singapore is a government sponsered and reconised one. (I have taught part-time when they started these courses long time ago, but one still have to plan to work from the bottom when he goes into the kitchen after the course.)

Hi Ciaran, Can you please explain to me why it seems that Michilan star experience is so important when seeking an international placement as an Ex. Sous Chef. I have 17 years post exp working throughout Australia and New Zealand in International 4-5 star Hotels / Resorts / and Restaurants in the capacity of both Ex Chef and Ex Sous Chef. This form of rating is very rarely seen here and I am finding this a big draw back for my future advancement. Most positions advertised with International agencies seek M.Star exp or equiv? I am wishing to further my knowledge in a career than I enjoy abroad and would appreciate your advice as to how I would approach agencies without this extra qualification. Cheers Pete
It may be that the specific placements you are going for will require this Michelin experience , it has always been a way for the receiving Hotels to ensure the standard or the aplicant.Its strange to me however that with you obvious experience that Hotels especially would need this.My advice to you would be to maybe side step the agency and try to make your own contacts and develop your own contacts.Try applying to the Hotel chains directly and I am sure your experience will stand you in good stead.Michelin experience is nice but it is not a must.

I am 24 years old and living in Istanbul. After receiving an education in politics and having worked in an advertising agency for two years I have found out that what I really want to do and earn my living from is cooking. I have been attending some ameteur cooking courses in the evening while contuning with my job at the agency. I am also trying to get information from the professional cooks about how to enter this profession. What I have been told is either I should be attending a school abroad or get a job in some restaurant in Istanbul (as no hotel would hire someone in-experineced like me.) However; I have no financial backup to get an education abroad as the cookery schools are very expensive and being a Turkish citizen (non EU) creates an obstacle in receing any possibble scholarsips. Being a female, it seems quite hard to get a job in the restaurants of Istanbul. I am also not very sure whether the atmosphere of the restaurants offering a job for a beginner would be convenient for a female. After such a long introduction, my question is would the hotels in Istanbul (like the Swiss, Çırağan, Conrad, Hyatt Regency, etc) offer jobs for inexperinced ladies? And would you bother to lead me in searching? There are merely not many women cooks, especially in Turkey. As I do love cooking and would like to get professional I see this obstacle as a challenge. And at the moment I would be greatful for any kind of help.

Irem , your situation seems to be more and more common here in the city at the moment.The answer is yes the hotels here would hire you with out experience and being Female is less and less a problem here,The only drawback you would have at the moment is the levels of business are quite slow and not many hotels are hiring.The only thing I would think of at the moment is wait till the summer when all the hotels hire trainees for the summer Season , this is usually a good step in the door and may lead to permanent employment. If you need more help you can feel free to call the Hotel here and speak to us in person.

Hi, I am a high school student, could you please answer some questions for me? (answered by Jeremy Emmerson GlobalChefs Founder)

How long have you been a chef?
I have been a chef for 14 years. I made the decision to be a chef when I was about thirteen and never work any other (full time) job.

How has your family been affected by your career?
My family has been effected greatly by my career choice. As a chef you work over the holidays and weekends so you live a different sort of life. You have to make your own holidays. On the upside I do not have to start work until about 10:30 so I get to spend time with my daughter most mornings.
How long did you go to school?
I went to school for three years and then took some more classes a couple of years after I graduated (one day a week for two years).

Did you ever want to be something else?
No not really, I thought about being a policeman but that was as far as I got.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up just outside London (England. I came to work in the US for eighteen months (that was seven years ago).

How old are you?
I am 33

Do you like your job?
Yes I enjoy cooking more now than at any other time in my life. Now I have my own family I do not really enjoy spending so much time at work, but that is the way it goes in the hospitality business.

Do you have a TV show?
No but if you know anyone that is looking for a TV chef, I wouldn't mind having a stab at it - I am dead cool.

What's your favorite food to cook?
Anything really but I must say that I really enjoy making bread - but cooking is fun no matter what you are doing.

Who's your favorite chef besides yourself?
I have a few, Gordon Ramsay (a British chef) has really set new standards in the world of cooking, Jamie Oliver (AKA the Naked Chef) has brought some fun in to the business he has been very successful and broken the media mold. Until Jamie came along you had to be a head chef or own your own restaurant to get on TV. He was just working in a London restaurant when he was discovered. My other favorite chef (or should I say chef that I most respect) is a friend of mine Simon Scott. He sold his house in England an bought a restaurant in France. It is great to see someone take a risk and do well. He works really hard...

Do you own a restaurant?
No I work in a large Chicago Hotel. I am the executive sous chef (which means I am second the number two guy. We have a team of about forty cooks with four restaurants and banquets - every day something new is happening.


I'm wondering what are the advantages of being a chef?

The best thing about being a chef is that you are in a job that is creative and always changing - you never stop learning and quite prestigious (in some people's eyes). You rarely get bored and can travel the world! How's that?

Hello. I just got my first job in a restaurant three months ago and I love it. I'm playing with the idea of cooking school at the moment...I believe I'm interested in Italian food and method, rather than a cooking school grounded in the French tradition. Do you know anything about the cooking school APICUS, in Florence, Italy? What are your impressions, if any? I'm looking for 1-2 years program in culinary arts and baking, which is respectable. Know any other schools I might be interested in?

Evan I have to say its not often we hear of someone heading to cooking school only for one style.The school you spoke of has a good name and I am confident you will gain a lot from it.They are I think involved with the Slow Food movement which is a good thing , they concentrate on quality and tradition.Make sure that this is what you really want as you will narrow your options for later if you have experience in one cuisine only.Check out , this is Italian food taught in English, it may be interesting for you , good luck.

My question is what is the next logical step? Dedicated to my chosen profession, I need advice from one who has been there. I attended a two-year culinary course at a reputable school in Canada. I have been cooking in professional kitchens (large hotel chains, and under chefs who compete at an international level), for the last 5 years. Obtaining a green card I relocated to New Orleans for 1 year to expand my culinary skills and knowledge. Since then I moved back to Canada to take a chef de cuisine position at a 5 star fishing lodge. It was very fulfilling to exercise the skills and knowledge I have acquired over the last 5 years. I believe in a build break build process, where you learn, exercise what you have learned, then learn again. I now want to get back into a challenging, creative, reputable establishment somewhere in the U.S. to break it down again and to maximize learning. Do you have any suggestions on any places that would offer such? Thank you, Sean

Sean you are well aware of the standard of the places you have worked in the past or are currently working, so now it is time to go a little higher and find somewhere one level above on the culinary chain. Generally speaking freestanding restaurants offer the best opportunity to concentrate on food and creativity away from the administration duties of a large hotel. Find the highest rated restaurants in whatever city you had in mind and push until one of the hires you. Without a doubt you will have to drop several positions but this is the price you will pay to polish your cooking skills. I cannot be specific as regards an establishment as the choice is so huge, you will find the one that suits you best and the style of food you want to learn, but with your strong background you will not have a problem being hired.

At present I am the Executive Sous Chef at a 5 Star hotel in Wales, UK. Working for a large International Co. My present Exec Chef is leaving at the end of the month and my application has been automatically put thru for the post, unfortunately when I applied before for it I was turned down, I can do the job but for some reason all the knock backs are beginning to dent my confidence and I am starting to have doubts myself. What can I do to get my confidence back up, as they say in the Industry "who motivates the motivator" In anticipation of your help.

At your level the answer to your question is primarily "yourself". Coming up you will always have someone over you to keep you going and constantly push you (if you're lucky), now this has to come from your own desire to do well and succeed, to show off your skills, to compete with the other restaurants in the market. This is how i have generally found this business to be. If you are lucky you will have a demanding boss who challenges you on a daily basis so you don't forget that it is creativity that drives chefs and restaurants in general. We tend to loose sight of this as we are in the daily grind on kitchen management, which as you know takes up most of your day. i think that the one of the best ways to re assure yourself is to go eat in your own restaurant and have your dishes cooked by your brigade. When you are done, generally speaking, (unless they mess up) this should restores your faith in the operation and your own ability as a 5 star chef, ability that is obviously there as your owners have automatically put through your application…

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