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5 minute read

Cooking Up a Winning Career: 7 Reasons Why Being a Chef Could Be the Right Fit for You

Ever thought of becoming a chef? If these seven reasons resonate with you, the profession may just be the right one for you.

Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and Anthony Bourdain are names that you might already be familiar with. We see them turn simple ingredients into mouth-watering grub on TV and wished that we could try some of their foods one day.

They may have even inspired you to try your hand at whipping up a dish or two (Maggi mee not included) in the kitchen. And who knows, you may even discover that you’re a great cook. Time to be a chef!

Now, hold that thought. 

Being a great cook at home doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make a great chef. The reason is simple – being a chef is not all about cooking. Sure, a large part of the job is to cook, but there’s more to the profession than meets the eye. 

Cook VS Chef: What’s the difference?

A professional cook is someone who makes food for others. They adhere to the recipes and meal plans offered by management at their workplace. Cooks frequently work as part of a team to prepare meals for large gatherings of people. A cook, for example, may work in a school and make food for students.

On the other hand, a chef is a culinary professional who develops recipes and prepares personalised cuisine for customers. Being a chef necessitates specialised training and education to acquire food preparation procedures. They can work in restaurants or businesses to serve employees and visitors.

Looking to explore a career in F&B? Find out which roles are available now!

Still unsure if you would make a good chef?

So now that you’re clearer about the difference between a cook and a chef, think you could become the next Martin Yan? Let’s dig deeper.

Here are seven reasons why being a chef could be the right career for you! We also roped in SHATEC’s alumni and established chef and owner of Bespoke Dining Club, Chef Samuel Quan, to share his thoughts. 

Seven Reasons Why You Would Make a Great Chef 

1. You enjoy being creative

A career as a chef allows you to use your imagination. You can create your own recipes or modify current ones. You can also experiment with different ways to garnish your dishes and dazzle customers with visual displays.

Food presentation is a reflection of the chef’s creativity.

Chef Samuel says: 

During busy work periods or times of inconsistent supply, a chef may find themselves limited in the ingredients they have available. They can use their problem-solving and creative skills to make substitutions where necessary. Many chefs enjoy the excitement that this quick thinking provides.

2. You like working flexible hours

A profession as chef is an excellent choice for people who want to work unconventional hours. For example, a brunch restaurant may only be open from 9 am until 1 pm. A chef who works in this setting can go to work and return home early, allowing them to spend time with their family and maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

On the other hand, some chefs choose to work late shifts so that they may attend appointments and run errands during the day.

Chef Samuel says:

The working hours may be challenging for some. A chef’s work is all rounded from creation to sourcing of ingredients, to pre-service preparation till execution to the table. However, as long as the guests are enjoying the dishes that is prepared, whether it’s for a regular meal or a special occasion, the job of a chef is fulfilled.

There are many openings for chefs and related roles on MyCareersFuture! Browse openings for chefs, sous chefs, pastry chefs and more!

3. You want to engage in meaningful work

Chefs broaden their customers’ palates by introducing them to new flavour combinations they had never imagined before. Taste aside, some chefs help their clients to eat healthy to meet personal goals by preparing dishes that are gluten-free or keto diets.

More than just cooking, the chef broadens the palate of his customers.

Chef Samuel says:

Connecting people together through food is my work’s motto. When guests come to dine at my restaurant, it means they have entrusted us to not only fill their hunger but to create a holistic sensory journey. This includes the service, interaction, ambience and atmosphere to create an unforgettable dining experience.

4. You prefer to remain active while at work

A career as a chef allows people to stay physically active. They spend the majority of their workdays standing and roaming around the kitchen, monitoring various locations. They also frequently lift big objects, such as large stock pots and rice sacks, making this a perfect profession for those who enjoy physical activity.

Chef Samuel says:

In addition to the long hours and heavy lifting required on the job, being physically fit is important for a chef as it requires swift movements and manoeuvring in narrow spaces during service, good psychomotor abilities will ensure the smooth flow in the kitchen.

5. You enjoy working together in a team 

A chef is accountable for the actions of his or her team members. They communicate with their waiters, line cooks, dishwashers, and fellow chefs to ensure that everything runs as smoothly as possible in the kitchen.

Working in the kitchen as a chef is never a lonely affair.

A chef’s job is a very social one that allows them to interact with others on a daily basis. It’s an excellent career if you enjoy interacting with a wide range of people.

Chef Samuel says:

The head chef is the leader and the heart of the whole system. With his or her motivation, communication and inspiration, the kitchen team would work like clockwork and reach new heights, over time. Think of it like a team sport, where each individual has their own purpose on the field, yet work together as a team and motivate each other to reach the team goal.

6. You don’t want to go back to school 

Formal education isn’t necessary to become a professional chef. There are plenty of learning opportunities for a chef. If you’re new to the culinary industry, you can apply for an internship and find a mentor who’s willing to teach you more about the industry. You can also learn new cooking methods and techniques from online videos and other resources.

Not everyone has the luxury to go back to school to gain a new specialisation.

Read more: Finding Your Way to Career Success: Mentorpreneur Shares How and Why Having a Mentor Will Help You

Chef Samuel says:

To me, a culinary degree is not important to becoming a chef. Curiosity and a self-motivated personality give me an edge in my team. There are no shortcuts to becoming a chef. Starting from the bottom can be a good way to understand the operations and system of how a kitchen works. I know of many successful Executive Chefs of major restaurant groups in Singapore that started their culinary journey as general workers doing jobs such as washing dishes.

7. You want access to self-employment opportunities

After gaining substantial culinary experience, you may want to consider creating your own restaurant. Head chefs have control over who they hire, what cuisine they serve, and what hours they work. Opening your own restaurant can provide you with personal fulfilment as well as the freedom to run it however you see fit.

Chef Samuel says:

Opening my first flagship restaurant, Restaurant Eclipse in late 2021 was the pinnacle of my career. As both chef and owner, the discipline, frame of mind and responsibility to my team have certainly elevated. The desire to create memories for guests and the constant pursuit of wanting to be better can become stressful for both chef and the owner.

A career as a chef can be challenging but worthwhile

It goes without saying that every profession has its challenges, and being a chef is no exception. Pay and position aside, it is also important to find satisfaction in what you do. 

Chef Samuel shares, “It is the process of reaching our goals and the adrenaline during each service that makes us as chefs feel alive. For me, the most satisfying part is to see my guests at Restaurant Eclipse complimenting the food and bringing their loved ones back to try it.” 

“I would like to also inspire more young Singaporean chefs to become leaders, and hopefully open a place of their own one day.”

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