Job Description:

Chefs prepare, cook and present food in hotels, bars and restaurants.

Job Category:
Food & Drink

What you will do:

Depending on the type of chef you are, you could:

  • prepare attractive menus to nutritional standards
  • control and order stock and inspect it on delivery
  • prepare food for cooking
  • cook and present food creatively
  • work under pressure so food is served on time
  • keep to hygiene, health and safety and licensing rules


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of food production methods
  • knowledge of manufacturing production and processes
  • maths knowledge
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Chef, specific qualifications are not mandatory, but certain subjects and skills can be beneficial in preparing for a career in culinary arts and cooking. Chefs are responsible for preparing and creating dishes in various culinary settings, such as restaurants, hotels, or catering services. Here are some relevant subjects that can be helpful:

  1. Food Technology or Home Economics: courses in food technology or home economics can provide you with a foundation in cooking techniques, food safety, nutrition, and understanding ingredients, which are essential for chefs.
  2. Mathematics (Optional): Basic math skills are important for tasks such as portion control, recipe scaling, and inventory management.
  3. Science (Optional): Courses in science, particularly chemistry, can help you understand the chemical reactions that occur during cooking and how different ingredients interact.
  4. English Language: Effective communication skills, including reading and understanding recipes, are crucial in the culinary field.
  5. Design and Technology (Optional): Courses in design and technology can introduce you to kitchen equipment, tools, and materials used in food preparation.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role


You could do a foundation degree, higher national diploma or degree in culinary arts or professional cookery.


One way to become a chef is to take a college course. In the UK, for example, courses include:

  • Diploma in Professional Cookery
  • Level in Catering
  • Diploma in Professional Culinary Arts


You could also do an apprenticeship to become a chef, including:

  • production chef intermediate apprenticeship
  • commis chef intermediate apprenticeship
  • senior production chef advanced apprenticeship
  • chef de partie advanced apprenticeship

You can also train to be a chef through an apprenticeship in the armed forces.


You could start as a kitchen assistant or trainee chef, known as commis chef. You could then work your way up while learning on the job.

Restaurants and catering companies often advertise for kitchen assistants and commis chefs.


If you have no experience, you could volunteer in a community kitchen before applying for a job.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 40-45 hours of work. You could be required to work evenings/weekends/bank holidays on shifts.

You could work at a restaurant, in a public or private hospital, at a school, at a college or on a cruise ship. Your working environment may be hot, physically demanding and humid. You may need to wear a uniform.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could progress through the different levels of chef:

  • station chef: looking after a particular area, such as desserts
  • sous chef: running an entire kitchen when the head chef is busy
  • head chef or chef de cuisine: running a kitchen, creating menus and managing the budget
  • executive chef: only at very large companies, managing multiple kitchens, doing little cooking

You could also:

  • become a specialist chef, such as a pastry chef
  • move into the business side of running a restaurant
  • teach chef or catering skills at a college