There are only two things you need to become a chef -a good education and a passion for food! As a chef, you have many options for a rewarding career. You can work at a hotel at the highest levels (but everyone has to begin at the lowest levels!), you can own your own restaurant or be a consultant to other restaurants or you can write cookery books and host cookery shows on TV!
A trainee chef must work hard and do all sorts of jobs, from cleaning floors and toilets to peeling sacks of potatoes and onions to standing for hours on end! On holidays and festivals, chefs don't get a holiday. They must be in the kitchen cooking up delights for all those who are celebrating. There are two sides to every coin and it's my sincere advice that you enter the field with a clear picture of what it's like. But remember, the sky is the limit for a chef.
You can do a 3-year degree course in Hotel Management from colleges affiliated to the National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology. There are 25 such colleges across India. Selection is done through a common entrance test. There are many good private colleges too, some of which are associated with leading hotel chains like The Taj at Aurangabad and ITC in Manipal. You can also attend a 1 1/2 year certificate course in food production and patisserie after the tenth standard.
Entering the job market, chefs may be hired as management trainees or hotel operation trainees. At the management trainee level, salaries start at Rs 10,000 to 15,000 per month and hotel operation trainees get about Rs 5,000 to 8,000 per month. Salaries increase with experience. The present Executive Chef at the Taj Group of Hotels earns about Rs 5 lakh every month. You could also join restaurants or cater for hospitals, airlines, ships, industrial canteens. In addition, kitchen management is an industry in itself.
Intituitions that Offer Good Courses
- Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Mumbai (022-24457241).
- Sophia Polytechnic, Bhulabhai Desai Road, Mumbai (022-23513157, 23514147)
by Sanjeev Kapoor, Master Chef, Author and Television Host