As a chef, I know a thing or two about cooking. Thanks to my personal experience and my previous and present coworkers, I know what way into the industry is the most popular and what is possible without certain diplomas or intermediate stages.
This article will teach you whether you can be a self-taught chef and transition to the industry, or do you need to go to culinary school first to learn all about the industry before you can work as a proper chef. In addition, I will teach you how to get started on learning necessary chef skills, in addition to some other precious information about the subject. But first, you need to know whether you can be a self-taught chef in the first place?
You can be a self-taught chef; however, it will be a harder road for becoming a chef. You will need to find a low-level entry job in a restaurant and work your way up while learning about everything in the moment. Eventually, you will be given a chance for advancement, and you can show what you are capable of.
Culinary school would be the easy path for becoming a chef. However, if you can get fast into the real work of the restaurant and can get an apprentice job nearly the same time as a culinary student starts their studies, the chances are you might be more skilled than the student when graduating because you have been working the real deal all this time and schools aren’t 100% the real deal, we all know that. On the other hand, the culinary student will have a diploma which is always a great benefit.
All things considered, you definitely can be a self-taught chef so let’s dive more into the subject and see how you can really pursue that dream because believe me, it isn’t as hard as it sounds!
How to become a self-learned chef
So there are 3 main aspects that you need to accomplish before you are well on your way to becoming a self-taught chef. Please don’t get discouraged because it has been done by tens of thousands of people around the world, probably more. In fact, my former head chef was self-taught, and a famous chef you might know named Gordon Ramsay is self-taught as well. Anyways, let’s proceed to the 3 aspects!
1. Find your inspiration
There are many different levels of inspiration, and the first of them is your ”why”. Why do you want to become a self-taught chef? Reflect on your heart and see the reason, and you are ready to start. There are 4 main things of inspiration that need to be in order if you want to remain on the path of becoming a self-learned chef.
Before even thinking about going on the road of becoming a self-taught chef, you need to understand that you need to have your work ethic in place. When I was a culinary school student and went to my first internship, I was honestly shocked about the work ethic it needed that I first considered quitting. Seriously.
Luckily it was just a start shock, and I pushed through, but there is something for you to learn from this as well. If you don’t actually know what it takes to work in a restaurant, I suggest asking someone you know what it is like or asking a chef in a restaurant; they are mostly happy to help, and I know because so would i.
If you desire to become a self-taught chef, I assume that you do have a passion for the industry, which is good because you will need it. If you love cooking shows, cooking at home, and have thought this a while now, then you have enough passion for going down this path.
However, if you are beginning to think about becoming a self-taught chef, you need to figure out your passion levels before applying for a job. On the other hand, a quick way to find out is to actually get a job if you can this point and see if it is for you or not.
Working as a chef is hard hard work. If you think you can survive a day in a fast tempo at high temperatures with minimum breaks and relatively low paychecks at first, then you are more than good to proceed. This does vary between restaurants and job positions, but you need a lot of energy to work as a chef in general.
The fourth thing is to internalize is that you need practice, forever. The most advanced Michelin star chefs aren’t finished, and anybody doesn’t know it all because food and restaurant equipment is constantly changing; therefore, there are always new learning curves behind every corner.
Personally, I love learning new things and trying new appliances and technology to aid in the food preparing business, and that’s why I am a chef. If this is the same for you, then I believe you are inspired enough to start honing your cooking skills!
Read also: How do Chefs Get Michelin Stars?
2. Hone your skills
Okay, so you are inspired enough to start honing your skills, are you? That’s amazing, and it’s getting interesting! There are various ways to start improving on your skillset while looking for an entry-level job. I have listed some great ones below, and you can actually start with a couple of them immediately!
Learn the cooking basics at home
In the modern days we live in today, it hasn’t been ever easier to start something from scratch and becoming great and something, cooking is one of them. Before you can start learning all the basics, there are some equipment and supplies that every passionate cook needs. You will need a proper chef’s knife, quality cookware, a versatile utensil set, and a decent cutting board to get started at home, and you probably have most of them at home already!
After you have all the required equipment, you should learn the basics like how to use a knife, how to sharpen a knife, how to fry, boil, and grill properly, and those sorts of things. It is important to understand the fundamentals that apply nearly to anything in the kitchen, which will increase your overall knowledge drastically!
Watch educational videos
Learning at home is really so easy nowadays. You can learn from various Blogs, YouTube videos, and even Tv Shows how to cook properly, and there is something from the absolute beginner to the highly advanced chef out there.
Listen to a podcast
It’s crazy what technology has enabled us nowadays. You can even learn when you can’t do anything else but listen. Signing up for a great podcast will give you knowledge while you are on your way to work, doing grocery shopping, or working out at the gym. You can literally learn nearly all the time except when sleeping, and most of the internalizing is actually happening while doing just that.
Sign up for a cooking class or course
There are more learning possibilities out there if you can believe it, and these 2 are the ultimate ones that will drastically speed up your learning process. You should look up some local cooking classes nearby, and they usually give out a diploma for those who have taken it and made it to the end, which you could use for your benefit when applying for a job.
Also, you can get a proper online course, and there are some great ones out there if you look carefully; however, remember to check the reviews because it’s the internet, and there are some sketchy people out there trying only to make a quick buck.
Find a mentor
Last but definitely not least, in fact, this is the most powerful one if you are lucky enough to find the right one. However, this is also the most difficult, and you can likely find one further in your career. Nonetheless, if you know someone that would be glad to help and even give you an entry-level job possibility, you should take it! That actually brings us to the last aspect of becoming a self-taught chef, getting that job!
3. Look for an entry level job
Getting a chef’s job without experience and a culinary school diploma can be intimidating and hard. However, if you can get your foot between the door, there certainly isn’t harm in trying, and I can say from experience that when you get to the job is when your real learning begins.
It is more likely that you will need to take a more entry-level job such as a dishwasher or if you’re lucky, a kitchen helper. You are on the road to becoming a self-taught chef, so you need to take that and work there a while. Remember that if you are looking for a dishwasher job, you should first apply to the more high-end places because dishwashing is dishwashing no matter where you do it. Still, in the process, you could immerse the working habits and skills of the more skilled chefs in the high-end restaurant, which will greatly benefit your cause.
This is also when you can really start looking for a mentor, and the right one is probably behind the corner, so be patient. A mentor in the restaurant world is something all beginner chefs look up to, and they have decades of experience; therefore, you should listen carefully, and you will learn a lot of things.
Now go work on your inspiration, skills, and you can start looking for a job already, and you will be a self-taught chef in no time.
Can you learn to cook by yourself
In the modern world, it is effortless to learn the basics of cooking, and if you are determined, you can learn advanced skills. Looking videos online, typing recipes on the internet, taking an online cooking course, listening to podcasts, and trying different things at home will quickly make you a decent cook.
What should I cook as a beginner
As a beginner, it’s important to learn the basics such as boiling, frying, and processing different ingredients. You should cook simple soups, vegetables, pasta dishes, rice foods such as risotto, and learn how to cook meats such as chicken and steaks properly.
What are basic cooking skills
The basic cooking skills everyone should know are roasting, frying, boiling, and baking. You can learn by roasting vegetables, frying meats, boiling pasta, and baking bread. There are many things to know, but all the basic cooking skills need oil and salt.
How do I get a chef job with no experience
Getting a chef’s job with no experience is tricky but possible. You should start by sending many applications and preparing yourself to settle for a job as a prep cook or a dishwasher. You can also offer yourself as an inter which will show a drastic amount of dedication and many restaurants would be glad to train such a person.
Can you call yourself a chef without going to culinary school
There are many chefs out there that haven’t gone to culinary school, and therefore when you work as a chef in a restaurant, you can call yourself a chef even when you haven’t gone to culinary school. For example, Gordon Ramsay didn’t go to culinary school, but you can definitely call him a chef.
Is being a cook stressful
Depending on the place of work, being a cook is stressful on some level. Working as a cook in a small lunch place isn’t as stressful as working in a high-end restaurant with huge volumes during the weekend. However, there will be stressful situations in every restaurant.
This article became more comprehensive than I was anticipated because it’s an important subject for me and the words just poured out like crazy. This article revealed that it is certainly possible to become a self-taught chef if you have certain elements in place. I hope that my knowledge helped you in your future journeys and you are more informed about what to do with your goals. Best of luck to you!
Here You’ll Find My Favorite Kitchen Equipment
Thanks for reading this article! I hope that it brought you real value that you can benefit from in your personal life! Here is my top kitchen equipment that I seriously couldn’t live without, and I think they could ease your life as well as they do mine. Take a look if you will!
- Knife set: As a chef, I can’t stand dull, poor-quality knives without any design. That’s why my absolute favorite kitchen knife set is the Gangshan 3-Piece Knife Set. It comes with a handcrafted 8″ chef’s knife and a 3.5″ paring knife. What I love even more than these flawless knives is the walnut knife block which is incredible and unique.
- Skillet: In addition to knives and my unwillingness to bargain with its quality is the cookware. My favorite skillet is Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Skillet. Le Creuset doesn’t need an introduction as a brand, as it is one of the world’s rated brands. This particular skillet is 9″ in size, it is heavy, it gets very hot, which is what is required to get a good sear, and it is just beautiful, as are all Le Creuset products.
- Food processor: I remember the time when I hadn’t a food processor at home. It wasn’t easy! But now, when I use my Ninja BN601 Food Processor, I can make anything super fast, which saves me many hours per week. This food processor has 1000 watts of power and four options, including chopping, slicing, dough, and purees. I also like the middle-sized 9cup (2.1l) bowl as it is big enough yet not too big to look unfitting in my kitchen.
- Tweezers: Dalstrong Professional Cooking Tweezers are like tongs but much more elegant, thin, and easy to use. They are great for virtually anything, but flipping, turning, and grabbing with these is just so easy and makes cooking so much more fun! These Dalstrgon tongs are titanium coated and very durable. Also, I like the black color instead of the everyday steel.
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