- According to rating agency CRISIL, the size of India's restaurant industry is estimated at Rs. 4.2 lakh crore.
- Even tier 2 & 3 cities have several fusion cuisines and international cuisines restaurants.
- Average dining out in Indian cities varies from 1-3 times a week.
- With the cuisines' traveling across borders, opportunities for trained chefs have also grown exponentially.
- With the growing popularity of Indian cuisine along with Indian chefs earning prestigious Michelin stars and other recognition.
- The Indian culinary has created a prominent place on the global culinary map.
- India has seen many restaurants started by great chefs and many celebrity chefs have inspired and influenced today's youth to take up this profession by choice.
- The kind of work one needs to do varies from the type of cuisines and restaurant format and a chef’s position in the restaurant.
Different Types of Chefs
Here is a list of different roles a chef can play in an Indian restaurant.
- Commis Chef works as an assistant or a cook who helps the chef prepare food.
- Gradually, a Commis with experience and exposure take additional responsibilities.
- Commis chefs, during their journey, get plenty of opportunities to improve cooking abilities, which can help in excellent career progression.
Chef de Partie
- Chef de Partie oversees a section of the kitchen and is also called a line cook or station chef.
- Chef de partie has other chefs working under him in a particular area of production like pastry, sauces, butchery, vegetables, etc.
- A pastry chef creates, decorates, and presents desserts like pastries, pies, and cakes.
- They use different toppings and icings to make the dish tempting and adorable.
- The exciting presentation makes customers engage and engrossed.
- Bakers chef crafts and creates baked foods.
- They use their expertise of the right ingredients at the right amount and time to bake and decorate the dish.
- They also ensure quality standards and nutrition.
- They are the ones who make attractive and exciting baked dishes.
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Saucier or Saute Chef
- Saucier or Sauté Chef is the specialist who oversees the entire process from procurement to delivery, mainly for sauces.
- Apart from sauces, the saucier also prepares soups and gravy required for a particular dish.
- A sous-chef de cuisine (French: "under-chef of the kitchen") has to directly work under the head chef.
- They also have to execute the planning as per the instructions.
- The sous-chef de cuisine is the second in command, taking care of a specific operation or area.
Chef De Cuisine or Head Chef
- A chef de cuisine is the head of the kitchen also called the master chef or head chef.
- Apart from cooking, the chef plans the menu, decides to choose the ingredients, selects, and inspects the cooking materials.
- The chef also supervises the commis chef working in the kitchen and other food-related issues.
Ways to become a chef in India
Like other professions, there are two ways to become a chef.
- One way is the informal way that is to learn by doing it.
- This may take a long time but again depends on passion and dedication.
- Initially joining some good restaurant as an assistant or a cook, getting exposure to time and responsibilities can make a perfect chef.
- The other way is to follow a career path formally.
- If you've wondered things like how to become a chef in India after 12th or 10th; India has culinary courses available after higher secondary (12th std) till diploma, degree, and masters.
- These courses categories under the culinary arts discipline.
- All of these are vocational courses that have compulsory internship/apprenticeship as a part of their design.
- As a part of the program, one has to undergo an internship or apprenticeship and has to work as a commis chef under a restaurant's mentor chef.
- It is a crucial time where Commis Chefs practice whatever they have learned.
- It's a practice of the theory which they have learned during their formal education at a culinary institute.
Tips for Becoming a Professional Chef
- Being a chef is a lively, interesting, vibrant, and exciting job.
- You see your creation delivered daily.
- You keep improving with feedback.
- You not only feed people but also create a mesmerising experience for them.
- It also opens doors of opportunity for you to travel.
- It's not a 9 to 5 job; as much responsibility you take, you learn and grow.
- A restaurant or a hotel is a soothing atmosphere to work in.
- Along with all these, you earn respect and sometimes celebrity-like status.
A Step-By-Step guide to becoming a chef in India:
Get a Diploma Post Higher Secondary (10+2)
- To get into a good culinary school, one either needs to have a diploma in culinary or exposure to culinary.
- Even to get exposure, employers ask for a basic diploma in culinary.
- It's like without a diploma, there is no exposure, and without exposure, no admission in a good culinary program.
- That's why a basic diploma after 12th std should be the first step towards the journey to becoming a chef.
- This diploma may vary from one and a half years to two and a half years, including part-time or full-time, free or paid internship.
Get a degree (BA in Culinary Arts) in culinary arts for three to four years
- Post a bachelor's degree; one can continue with a master's (MA) in culinary arts.
- Though formal education is not mandatory to become a chef, one acquires the knowledge and skill for the chosen specialisation.
- This also helps them get a good position and greater responsibility.
- In short, this can give a great start to an aspiring chef.
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Getting Practical Exposure Post-Internship/Apprenticeship
- One has to start the journey as a Commis Chef in a restaurant's specialised department/area.
- A formal degree was just the beginning of the journey to becoming a chef.
- The right kind of exposure under a versatile mentor in a good work environment is crucial for becoming a successful chef.
- Day-to-day work will help sharpen their knowledge and skill.
- This practical exposure also comes with professional networking opportunities through which one can build rapport with other colleagues.
Getting Certified as a Chef
- Like professional education, certification is also not mandatory to be a chef in India, but it may help to grow faster in competitive chef positions.
- Certification is also an opportunity to add more disciplines and specialties to their kitty.
- It may help in getting a more diversified portfolio leading to greater opportunity and rewards.
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Q. How many hours does a chef need to work?
- Normally, they follow shift timings.
- On average, a chef has to work a minimum of 40 to 50 hours a week.
- Festivals and holidays are very special and important days for business.
Q. What are the challenges for a chef in the initial days?
- There is a lot of physical work, so it's not easy.
- One needs to have good stamina.
- Time management and complete deliveries are also challenges for a commis chef in the initial days.
Q. Is it mandatory to have a Bachelor in Culinary Arts to be a good chef?
- It is not mandatory to have a formal education to become a good chef.
- Rachael Ray, Ree Drummond, Gordon Ramsay, Jamie Oliver, and Tom Colicchio are some of the famous chefs who enjoy celebrity status without any formal education in the culinary field.
- Having a formal education will make achieving a career in the culinary world easier and faster.
Q. What are the culinary courses available in India?
- Bachelor of Arts in Culinary Arts, Bachelor of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, B.Sc. in Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Diploma in Culinary Arts, etc.
- After 10+2 higher secondary.
- Some diploma courses are also available after 10th standard like Diploma in-
- Food Production
- Diploma in Catering Technology
- Diploma in Bakery and Confectionery, etc.