For many, becoming a chef is a childhood dream. For others, working in a kitchen as a dishwasher or a server leads to new culinary goals. No matter how you got here, if you are wondering how to become a chef so you can live out your dreams, we can help. Our culinary job training programs prepare you to work in a professional kitchen.

However, there are a few things you need to know before becoming a chef. According to professionals, the most important thing you need to know is that being a chef is no cakewalk! It’s not a job for the fainthearted: Being a chef is one of the toughest jobs out there. But it’s also one of the most rewarding.  

According to Elliott Bell, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, there are 4 vital things you need to know if you’re considering becoming a chef:

1. It. Is. Intense.

When you first get into a professional kitchen, you’ll most likely be working 12- to 16-hour shifts as a line cook, handling hundreds of orders a night that each have specific customizations. Everything about your job in a professional kitchen will be a hundred times more intense than even the most complicated meal you might make at home. 

Everything in a professional kitchen is fast-paced. There’s rarely time for breaks, especially during meal rushes. In addition, every tool you’ll be using will be more complicated. Chances are, you don’t have a flat-top griddle or an eight-burner stove at home. You have to be ready to jump in with no hesitations — or you’ll get left behind.

2. You Will Get Cut and Burned

When you have to jump in headfirst into the kitchen, get ready to be injured. In a professional kitchen, the knives are incredibly sharp and the ovens are really hot. Chopping up 50 carrots as quickly as possible means you may cut your finger as well. And of course, with a dozen people running around with hot pots and gas fires raging on the stovetops, you will get burned. 

And you’re not just going to get burned. You’re also going to get burned out. There is no break from the stress or the high temperatures in the kitchen, and it’s going to be emotionally and mentally exhausting. You should have a small first aid kit to take care of your physical injuries. You should also have a support system for the mental and emotional injuries.

3. Being a Chef Will Dominate Your Life

Sure, you may cook at every chance you get. You may have stacks of cookbooks and internet recipes all around your house. When you finish your job training and get into a professional kitchen, you’ll probably not think about much else. You’ll start using culinary language in your everyday life. You’ll start dreaming about the kitchen.

It’s crucial you have something else in your life that can take your mind off of being a chef. Get a hobby, or dive into family life. Find something that has nothing to do with cooking, and make sure you actively spend time doing it.

4. You Will Never Find a More Satisfying Job

Yes, being a chef is incredibly difficult. You’ll be covered with cuts, burns and scars. You may even have a mental breakdown. But if you love cooking and want a job that lets you express your creativity, becoming a chef is one of the best career paths you can take. Even as a line cook, you may be able to tweak recipes (at least in dishes that aren’t for customers) to make new, amazing creations.

When you work in a kitchen, you form a bond with a team that shares experiences few others can understand. Even after you leave your first kitchen job, those coworkers may be your closest friends for the rest of your life. What’s more, once you get your feet wet, being a chef can take you anywhere!

Becoming a Chef Is Easier with Job Training

If you’re considering becoming a chef, get ready for a hard road that will lead to an incredibly satisfying career. At the Center for Employment Training, we can make sure you have the skills you need to succeed in a professional kitchen. If you’re wondering how to become a chef, we can help. Find a location near you, then contact us to learn more about how our job training can help you land your dream career!