You may think the only way to become a chef is to go to culinary school and then seek work in a restaurant. Or, to work your way up in restaurants until you become sous chef or executive chef. However, the most time-honored way to become a chef is to be a chef's apprentice. Apprenticeships, where you learn under the guidance of a working chef, are still a recognized and relevant way to learn your trade, not only in the culinary arts but in many other fields. In fact, if you are preparing to attend culinary school, you could seek an apprenticeship before, or after you attend school.
Many people involved in the food industry may know about the kitchen brigade system, but few realize that there is a corresponding classic brigade system used for the dining room, or front of the house (FOH).
It has become a tired refrain, mostly due to the influence of food television, for professional chefs to remind us that not all cooks should be called chefs. A chef, they say, is the person in charge of the kitchen, and this implies that he or she has more mastery of cooking, as well as the intricacies of running a kitchen in general.
If you said Julia Child, you are mistaken. Julia Child has often been credited with bringing French cooking to America, but, in fact, Julia Child herself described the first woman to host a television cooking show in America to be the "the mother of French cooking in America.”
Today, there is a big debate whether culinary school is worth it for those wanting careers in restaurant cooking and/or ownership.
The expense, many say, is too much, and you can do just as well with apprenticeships, or by working your way up the ranks in various restaurants.
Chefs say pastry chefs are a crazy lot. Seriously, ask around. They do. Yet, chefs today often display a sort of schizophrenic seeming attitude toward their jobs. They love it. They get great satisfaction. It is thankless grueling work and no, you should not become a chef.
Why is it that we seem to come across so many chefs who actively discourage people from entering into a culinary career? Young people ask on various internet forums, "Should I go to culinary school?" and you tend to see at least one grumpy character pop up and say, "I've been a chef for a thousand years. Don't become a chef. You don't know what you're getting into."
Most parents want two basic things for their children. They want them to be happy. And they want them to be happy. When you want to go to culinary school and have a career in the culinary arts, and your parents don't support you, it may seem like their goals have shifted. But, what do your think their reasons are for not wanting you to go to culinary school? Perhaps they think that you will end up unhappy! Maybe they don't understand your passion for food.
Most people assume that personal chef and private chef are two different ways of naming the same career. However they are actually quite different jobs. Since becoming either a private or a personal chef can be a rewarding choice of careers for a culinary school graduate, it is important to understand the difference.
Although today, chefs wear many different colors and combinations of clothing in the kitchen, reflecting their own style, the typical uniform we associate with a chef is both practical and traditional. It is sometimes said that Napoleon ushered in the tradition, which then evolved to suit practical needs because he wanted his chefs to look like soldiers. More often, the uniform is attributed to chef Antonin Carême see Haute Cuisine and Nouvelle Cusine.
Various stories are attached to Carême's adaptation of the uniform, including that he simply borrowed the existing Baker's uniform, and that he changed the traditional chef's uniform from gray to white. It does seem fairly clear that he was the one who formalized white for his own kitchen staff. Few chefs of the time, it is said, agreed with him. Escoffier probably deserves as much credit for codifying the white uniform and bringing it into acceptance.
True or not, chefs of old were nowhere near as colorful and variable in dress as today's chefs. Despite the lack of standard uniform, there are still those who stick to the basics, and there are still practical parts of a chef's uniform that most professionals employ.
Brooke Williamson is the Co-Executive Chef and Co-Owner of Hudson House in Redondo Beach, CA and The Tripel in Playa del Rey, California. She was a finalist in Bravo's 2013 Top Chef television competition, coming in second behind Kristen Kish. She started her professional cooking career in 1997.
If you tuned into the first of the new all-stars Chopped tournament on Food Network, you may have wondered what the secret ingredient "sour trahana" was. Michael Simon referred to it as sort of a Greek pasta, and that is essentially what it is: a small granular pasta. I know we mostly think of pasta as something Italian, but Greece has dozens of traditional pastas as well.