How to make a career out of cooking

Here at The Stone Grill, we get quite a few prospective CVs through our door asking for a job or asking to be put on the list for when a vacancy comes up. It’s great to see how much energy people want to bring to the kitchen and how many people view cooking as a vocation, if not a career.

However, to be a viable candidate for a job in a kitchen, you generally need some training or a qualification. Preferably both. Kitchens don’t have the time or resources they used to have to take on apprentices with no experiences. We don’t have the time, space or luxury to being from scratch unless it’s as waiting staff. It’s sad but true.

So what do you need to forge a career in the kitchen?

Well for start, you need an acceptance of long hours, unsociable hours, heat, cold and pressure. In return, you get to participate in one of the most rewarding careers there are. But seriously, to stand a chance of getting a job in a kitchen, you need some training.

Cookery school

Attending cookery school or catering college is usually the first step in a career in cooking. It will teach you the basics of working in a kitchen, the tools we use, how to man a station and all those little things that help make you a productive member of a kitchen team.

It will also teach you basic recipes that you will use regularly too. Recipes like basic soups, sauce bases, how to make dough, pasta, cakes, pastry, preserves and more. You should also learn the basics of butchery, bakery and associated skills.

Good cookery schools will also teach the basics of regional cuisine too. Given how multicultural we are, a knowledge of basic Indian, Italian, Chinese and Middle Eastern recipes helps build your skills and repertoire.

Very good schools will also teach you about ingredient selection, the importance of local and how to tell the freshness of your produce. This is especially important with meat and fish but plays an important role in all buying decisions within a kitchen. All that plays a part in menu development, building a dish to a budget, event planning, service planning, staffing and every aspect of service.

Preparation

The preparation of you as an individual is as important as your ability to prepare for service and hold your station. The more effort you put in, the more you will get out. The more training you can do yourself, the more attractive you will be to an employer.

Restaurants are busy places. Most want a team member to be productive right away with the minimum of training. The more you can do before applying for that first job, the more positively your application would be viewed.

Proper preparation is essential in all aspects of cooking. The more effort you can put into preparing yourself, the more likely it is that you can get that first job. Good luck with it!

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