The United Kingdom is facing a shortage of skilled chefs. According to a survey by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES), nearly half of all skilled chef vacancies in the U.K. are difficult to fill. If the scarcity continues, the country will need an additional 11,000 new chefs by 2020, estimates the leading skills development agency People 1st. The skills shortage could even harm the country’s foodie reputation and may eventually hamper the growth of the UK tourism industry – which otherwise would cross the £216 billion mark by 2025, estimates VisitEngland.
Despite the urgent need and rising demand for skilled chefs, there are only a few takers of this profession in the UK. Around 51 percent of the catering colleges have seen a drop in enrollments in recent years, according to the People 1st report.
This seems like the perfect time to start your career as a chef. If you love food and enjoy cooking, you can easily find an entry-level chef job in the UK. However, moving up the career ladder to become a head chef requires hard work and dedication. If you wish to become the next Jamie Olive or Delia Smith, start your preparation right away by knowing more about the specific of this career option.
Job DescriptionChefs are responsible for preparing, cooking and presenting foods. Your duties as a chef may vary depending on your job position, the size and speciality of your restaurant. You can work as a general chef to look after everything or become a specialist in certain food areas, such as, pastries, puddings, desserts, breads and sauces. Entry-level chefs usually need to work as part of a team under the head chef, who is responsible for running the entire kitchen. Roles and responsibilities vary, but usually include;
Planning menus and developing recipesOrdering suppliesChecking food ingredients for freshnessCoordinating with cooks and other service staffPreparing and cooking mealsMaintaining consistency of the quantity and quality of mealsHiring and training new staff for the kitchenEnsuring prompt delivery of ordered mealsFollowing kitchen sanitation and safety guidelinesTaking the necessary steps to preserve food and ingredientsPreparing a monthly budget for the kitchen
Entry RequirementsYou can enter into this profession without any academic qualification. However, doing an industry-recognized course or having relevant work experience would surely help you to find a suitable job position. Good English and math skills are also required. Some employers prefer candidates with a General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in English and Mathematics.
You can start your career as a trainee chef or commis chef and gradually move up the career ladder to first become a section chef or a station chef, then a sous chef and finally a head chef or chef de cuisine.
Culinary courses usually train you through a combination of classroom study and hands-on training and cover almost all areas of kitchen work, including cooking methods, menu planning and food preservation methods.
Skills RequiredJust being able to cook may not be enough to build a successful career in this field. Chefs often need to work in a fast-paced environment. You need a diverse range of skills, qualities and the right temperament to excel in this career. To become a successful chef, you should have;
Excellent cooking skillsAbility to keep your cool under pressure situationsMultitasking abilityGood communication skillsLeadership skillsAbility to present dishes in a creative wayTime management skillsAttention to detailExcellent business senseDexterity in using food preparation tools and utensils
Career Opportunity and SalaryChefs are employed in hotels, restaurants, casinos and cafes. They may also get employment opportunity in hospitals, nursing homes and educational institutions. Your annual salary as a chef may vary depending on your job position and employer. For instance, entry-level jobs will offer you around £13,000 per year, while a section chef and a second chef can expect around £16,000 and £22,000 per year, respectively. Salary of a head chef could be anywhere between £25,000 and £35,000 per year, while some upscale hotels and restaurants pay up to £60,000 per year to the executive head chefs.
If you take great pride in your culinary skills and have a passion for experimenting with food and cooking methods, being a chef would be a rewarding career option for you.