11 Signs Why A Chef Career Is Right For You

If you’re looking for a sign that you should become a chef, then you’re in luck! Here we bring you 11 of the best signs to become a chef, based on my own experiences in the kitchen.

I chose to become a chef for many reasons including:

  • Wanting to gain confidence
  • Being highly ambitious
  • A desire to travel
  • A love of meeting interesting people
  • Needing to do a creative career

This is just a brief selection of my 11 reasons to become a chef, and I will cover these and others in much more detail below.

Remember though, ultimately you won’t truly know if you are going to enjoy being a chef, unless you give it a go! I would encourage anyone who wants to be a chef to go for it and see if you enjoy it!

As the famous quote goes:

It’s better to regret something you try, then to regret not trying.

It is my hope that this mental checklist for becoming a chef, will give you the confidence to trust your gut feeling and pursue that career you dream of.

1. Wanting To Gain Confidence

If you’re anything like me, I wasn’t the most confident person the day I walked into a kitchen for the first time.

I had a slight advantage in that I transitioned from the front of house team into the kitchen, so I already knew the chefs. However, even with this clear advantage I was still a bag of nerves.

Despite what you may think, most new chefsOpens in a new tab. that come into the kitchen are quiet and under confident individuals. Watching the transition into tall walking chefs a few years later is always great to see.

No matter your starting level you will gain in confidence as you go, which has a positive effect both in and outside of work (A brief look back on my chef careerOpens in a new tab.).

2. You’re Ambitious 

Make no mistake about it, kitchens are full of highly ambitious people. The competition for jobs is fierce. Fortunately, there is plenty of work to go around so it rarely turns into any negative feelings between chefs.

If you are someone with plans of climbing the kitchen career ladderOpens in a new tab., and running your own restaurant in an amazingly short time frame, then a chef career is a great option.

3.  Wanting To Leave Home

A chef career is one of the few careers where subsidised staff accommodationOpens in a new tab. can be found everywhere.

Take a brief look through a job vacancy site and you will discover many positions being offered with staff accommodation either for free, or for a fraction of the cost you would have to pay in the open market.

Large hotels, that take on many staff at a time, may be a great option when starting outOpens in a new tab.. As a new commis you may find yourself sharing a house with several other beginner chefs; a chance to form some great friendships.

4. Money Isn’t Your Number One Priority

There are some countries in the world where being a chef pays very well. Unfortunately, the UK, the country I spent my chef career in, is not one of those.

When entering the trade it is important to be realistic about salary expectations.Opens in a new tab.

There are far easier ways to earn money that spending 11 hours a dayOpens in a new tab. in a hot a sweaty kitchen. That being said, with so many job opportunities, being a chef can be a very reliable income – a good chef is unlikely to find themselves out of work for an extended period of time.

5. You can Handle Pressure

Kitchens are high pressure environmentsOpens in a new tab.. No matter which type of kitchen you choose to work in, from the finest three Michelin star places down to local cafes, when the orders are coming in thick and fast, the pressure begins to build.

How you handle that pressure is really important. The image of chefs shouting and screaming is great on TV, but do you notice it is always the head chef?Opens in a new tab. And do you think they have cracked under pressure or trying to solve the problems?

The reality is, that the vast majority of chefs can stay calm and handle what’s being thrown at them. A chef on the stove who panics and starts shouting back or crumbling under the pressure will have a very short career.

6. Wanting To Meet Interesting People

People from all walks of life are attracted to the unique atmosphere of the kitchen. It is a truly worldwide career where you’ll find yourself working alongside others from all parts of the globe.

Everyone has different culinary tastes and perspectives. Some chefs are vegetarianOpens in a new tab. whilst others specialise in Asian cuisine. The mix of personality types is amazing.

Those from different parts of the world that have experienced different cultures are usually really interesting peopleOpens in a new tab. to meet. The warmth shown by everyone means that a gathering of chefs on a night out can really be an eclectic mix of personalties and viewpoints.

7. You’re A Night-time Person

For the most part, being a chef involves working late into the evening. There’s then the travelling home and the winding down to consider, which transpires that getting to bed before midnight is not the norm for the majority of chefs.

Some thrive in this type of work patternOpens in a new tab., those that hate mornings and would rather be awake all night adapt particularly well.

On the other hand, those whose envy the working hours of postmen and women, may find the chef work pattern a little too difficult.

8. You Want To Work Locally

Having previously mentioned that being a chef is a great way to leave home early, it can also be a great career if you don’t want to travel far.

Even the smallest village has a few restaurants Opens in a new tab.or pubs, especially in the parts of the UK that are popular holiday resorts.

If your aim is to stay close to home with your existing family and friends, having a successful chef career is still very achievable.

9.  Having A Creative Side

A moment of honesty here; this is what held me back in my own chef career from ever reaching the highest level. Whilst I certainly felt I was creative and able to put my own spin on dishes, as I climbed the ladder I realised the competition seemed to have an artistic side that I felt I was lacking.

Don’t get me wrong, I would still consider my own carer successful, but when comparing myself to the Michelin starOpens in a new tab. head chefs I always felt they had ideas floating around in their heads day and night!

Creativity is definitely something that can be learnt and improved upon; but if you are one of those talented artistic type individuals, you’ll have a great natural weapon in your arsenal as you progress.

10. Enjoy Physical Work

Spending countless hours a weekOpens in a new tab. on your feet takes its toll, there’s no denying it. However, if you question most chefs they will tell you that they would take that over sitting at a desk all day in a heart beat.

Physically demanding jobs are difficult on the body, but great for keeping the mind healthy. For many people the alternative office based career, sat in front of a computer all day, is unthinkable.

11.  You Love Food

Perhaps the most obvious one on the list, but worth a mention non the less. Chefs have a passion for food, not content with cooking all day, they will often spend their free time discussing and researching dishes.

Of course this comes in waves, beginner chefsOpens in a new tab. throw themselves in at the deep end before realising that a healthy balance of outside interests are also important.

A love of food helps a chef keep their standards high. Even the last meal leaving the kitchen at the end of the night is to a high standard, because the chef wants the customer to experience the food the way the chef experiences it.

When the love for food goes, the standards drop and a chefs career is going down a dangerous path.

I hope that list has been useful in helping readers decide whether to start a chef careerOpens in a new tab. or not. 

There’s lots more career info on this site and I’ll end by reiterating what I said at the beginning of the article – ultimately you will not know if you are suited to a chef career unless you give it a go!

Dave Nicholas

Having spent around 10 years working as a qualified chef in high end restaurants, my mission is to use this experience to help others as they begin their career in catering!

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