Experience is important for gaining many of the skills you will need in the kitchen but you may not learn in a class environment, these are things such as time management, chain of command and how kitchens are run.
It can also be very helpful for working out which area in the kitchen you might want to specialise in – spending a little time working in each can lead to a stronger idea of where you want to focus your career.
Along with your own knowledge and development, experience can be beneficial in your job hunting as you’ll find that many jobs require at least a small amount of time in a professional cooking environment. This can be difficult, if you can’t find a job to give you this experience! So here are a few different ways you can find experience as a chef.
A formal apprenticeship not only gives you the advantage of gaining valuable experience as a chef but it is also recognised as a formal qualification when completed. You get the chance to learn on the job and develop your skills daily whilst working with other full time and experienced chefs.
Apprenticeships are available in most sectors of the industry and are widely available – whether you want to be a Chef de Partie or a Pastry Chef, there will be an apprenticeship for you. It may just take a bit of searching and persistence to find the perfect one for you.
There are so many websites where you can find more information about apprenticeships or apply for apprenticeships, such as: The City and Guilds website, University websites and even some celebrity chefs like Gordon Ramsey provide apprenticeships.
There are an astonishing number of cooking courses available all around the UK and some of these can be useful for any aspiring chef. Skill courses can be especially helpful when trying to perfect a certain skill or go over the basics that you need to know.
Some cooking courses can be slightly commercialised but that doesn’t mean that no course will be helpful in your learning and experience as a chef. Do a bit of research and work out what course will help you the most. It is good to show future employers that you are self-motivated and want to learn by attending these courses.
This may seem like one of the most obvious ways of getting experience as a chef, but sometimes it is forgotten by many aspiring chefs as a potential option. Work experience gives you the opportunity to spend a short amount of time in a kitchen, you get the chance to really experience the working environment as well as working out whether this is the career for you.
Work experience gives you the opportunity to learn a small amount from a variety of chefs – learn what their expertise is. As well as giving you a great opportunity to network within this industry.