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Friday, February 8, 2013

What you need to know in order to become a Chef part 5/5

If you want your resume to stand a chance of being read by prospective employers, you must invest time and energy not only in its content, but also in its look. First, it needs to be aesthetically pleasing and well organized, with no more than two fonts and at least two-inch margins. Read “Your Resume’s Look Is as Important as Its Content” for more details on making it look perfect.
When writing your resume, avoid these five key mistakes:
1) Typos and Grammatical Errors: No one will hire you if you have typos on your application. Read it out loud to catch these errors, perform a spelling and grammar check in Word and have someone else competent read it over. It never hurts to check it twice (or three or four or five times!)
2) One-Size-Does-Not-Fit-All: Whenever you try to develop a one-size-fits-all resume to send to all employers, you almost always end up with something employers will toss in the recycle bin. Employers want you to write a resume specifically for them. They expect you to clearly show how and why you fit the position in a specific organization.
3) Going on Too Long or Cutting Things Too Short: Despite what you may read or hear, there are no real rules governing the length of your resume. Why? Because human beings, who have different preferences and expectations where resumes are concerned, will be reading it. That doesn’t mean you should start sending out five-page resumes, of course. Generally speaking, you usually need to limit yourself to a maximum of two pages. But don’t feel you have to use two pages if one will do. Conversely, don’t cut the meat out of your resume simply to make it conform to an arbitrary one-page standard. One page, however, is highly recommended.
4) Visually Too Busy: If your resume is wall-to-wall text featuring five different fonts, it will most likely give the employer a headache. So show your resume to several other people before sending it out. Do they find it visually attractive? If what you have is hard on the eyes, revise.
5) Incorrect Contact Information: Another downer to both you and an employer. The phone number and address on your resume should be correct for two reasons. One, you must prove you are conscious of even the most minute details; and two, once the employer contacts you to offer you a job, they’ll have the wrong number!
So much for the “Don’ts.” For the “Do’s,” be sure you follow these five guidelines in your resume:
1) Be Specific: Employers need to understand what you’ve done and accomplished. For example, have you
“Worked with employees in a restaurant setting.” or “Recruited, hired, trained and supervised more than 20 employees in a restaurant with $2 million in annual sales.”
Both of these phrases could describe the same person, but details and specifics in the second example will more likely grab an employer’s attention.
2) Write a Strong Objective Statement: Employers do read your resume’s objective statement, but too often they plow through vague phrases like, “Seeking a challenging position that offers professional growth.” Give employers something specific and, more importantly, something that focuses on their needs as well as your own.
Example: “A challenging chef position that allows me to contribute my culinary skills and experience in organizing and operating a hotel restaurant.”
3) Use Action Verbs: Avoid using phrases like “responsible for.” Instead, use action verbs.
4) Highlight Accomplishments, Not Duties: It’s easy to slip into a mode where you simply start listing job duties on your resume. For example:
• Attended weekly food supply meetings and took notes.
• Volunteered at soup kitchen.
Employers, however, don’t care so much about what you’ve done as what you’ve accomplished in your various activities. They’re looking for statements more like these:
• Used laptop computer to record weekly food ordering needs and costs; recorded them in a Microsoft Word-based file for future organizational reference.
• Developed the menu and managed the team that prepared three daily meals for a Meals on Wheels chapter; fed 500 people a nutritionally balanced meal every day.

What you need to know in order to become a Chef part 4/5

Look for Chef Jobs and Apply

Once you’ve amassed some culinary skills and experience, it’ll be time to apply for a job or apprenticeship in the kitchen. Be sure you have a stand-out résumé, an impeccable cover letter, and have brushed up on your interview skills. Follow our expert advice on honing your job search, applying for, and landing the job.

Your Cover Letter and Resume

An employer typically gives each applicant’s resume and cover letter a 30-second look before deciding to consider it or throw the application in the trash. Be sure your offering conveys your skills, talents, and background so that your future doesn’t end up in the garbage.
Cover Letter
Your cover letter is an essential part of your application. You want to make it memorable while straightforward and to the point. Remember: you must fit a lot of important and captivating information in ONE PAGE, including your mailing address.
You need to tailor your cover letter to your reader – the employer. Visit your potential employer’s web site or read the company’s annual report to learn more about it, and then use your cover letter to demonstrate how your skills and experience can benefit the organization.
Also, highlight your biggest accomplishments and skills. Sell yourself – don’t be shy! For an admin job, it is important to point out any office skills, your teamwork attitude, previous administrative experience, education, etc. Make your strengths stand out by using active verbs and descriptive adjectives. For example, instead of simply saying “I have experience managing kitchen staff” state “I developed strong administrative and leadership skills from working three years in a four-star restaurant.”

What you need to know in order to become a Chef part 3/5

Get the Education and Skills You Need

On-the-job training is most common for fast-food cooks, short-order cooks, and food preparation workers but most chefs and others with more advanced cooking duties attend culinary school.
There is a wide range of training programs available in the culinary arts field—
Vocational or trade-school programs typically offer basic training in food handling and sanitation procedures, nutrition, slicing and dicing methods for various kinds of meats and vegetables, and basic cooking methods, such as baking, broiling, and grilling.
Longer programs leading to a certificate or a 2- or 4-year degree train chefs for fine-dining or upscale restaurants. They offer a wider array of training specialties, such as advanced cooking techniques; cooking for banquets, buffets, or parties; and cuisines and cooking styles from around the world.
Most formal training programs also require students to get experience in a commercial kitchen through an internship, apprenticeship, or out-placement program.
Knowledge of a foreign language can be an asset because it may improve communication with other restaurant staff, vendors, and the restaurant’s clientele.



Areas of study at culinary school:

 Business: An important subject as you will be responsible for the ordering of food and supplies. It is also helpful if you plan to someday run a restaurant of your own.
 History, cultural studies, and sciences: The reason why this part of your studies is so important should be obvious: Food is culture. Familiarizing yourself with the history, practices, and ideas behind different cuisines is an essential first step in your culinary education.
 Mathematics: As a chef, you will often be required to estimate pricing for foods that balances out with the cost of preparing it. You will also be required to estimate the cost of supplies and ingredients, and you must remain on or below your budget.
 Natural sciences: Such studies will help you to identify any poisonous or harmful food-stuffs. Further, chemistry in the kitchen is an exciting, innovative field in gourmet cuisine!
 Human relations: You must be able to relate to other people on their level if you are a chef because you will be dealing with quite a few of them daily, and none of them will be the same.
 Art: Art will help you to present an attractive dish and will help you to effectively blend the right foods together in a way that will be more appealing to your customer.

What you need to know in order to become a Chef part 2/5

Decide If Becoming a Chef is Right for You

Culinary work takes a great deal of dedication, motivation, and passion. It also calls for a comfort with teamwork and openness to training. When figuring out if becoming a chef is the best fit for you, ask yourself the following

Can I multi-task?

You will often be required to do many things at once, so be prepared. As you will learn, working in a kitchen is a fast-paced environment. It certainly helps if you can keep up! The profession also requires an ability to act with a clear head and in a decisive manner.

Am I good at making split-second decisions?

Thinking on your feet is a necessity when working in a kitchen, as there is always something going on around you. In order to be fully functional, you’ll need to be able to make decisions at the drop of a hat, and your decisions will have to be the right ones.
This may not sound very difficult, but you must consider that a kitchen is almost always filled with people doing many things at once. For example, something on the stove can go overlooked and begin to burn. A fire could break out with the simple misplacement of a dish towel, and confusion can easily erupt among the staff. A quick, decisive chef will always be able to keep everything running smoothly.

Do I handle criticism well?

As a chef, you will almost certainly encounter people who will not like your cooking and they will quite likely send their food back. It helps if you can take such criticism in stride.
Food critics, of course, will also pick apart your work. If you are not able to handle such feedback, you won’t leave yourself much room to improve.
In this profession the old saying is definitely true: “The customer is always right.” Live by it.

How is my business sense?

To be a good chef, you must have a good grasp of the business dealings, especially if you someday plan to be an executive chef or run your own establishment.
Some aspects you’ll need to know about: Dealing with shipments and stocking of food items, the management of other employees, and the direct correspondence with the head honcho or proprietor of the establishment.

Am I people person?

Many people think that being holed up in a kitchen all day doesn’t really require you to be in much contact with the public, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
As the chef, you will encounter many people during the course of your day. You will be talking to delivery personnel, other employees, and often customers who wish to speak to you either in a congratulatory or critical tone.

What you need to know in order to become a Chef part 1/5

You live for food: Eating it, preparing it, re-inventing it, presenting it, sharing it. No wonder you’re thinking about turning your passion for the culinary arts into a career. But where do you start?

Research the Field

There are many different kinds of chefs. Once you discover what kind of chef you would like to be, you will be able to improve your skills and focus on that specific area of the culinary arts that most suits you.
Luckily for you, the most popular culinary positions and specializations I have listed for you

We’ll start with the most obvious information: Chefs and dinner cooks prepare, season, and cook food. Chefs spend time on their feet, cooking, chopping, and stirring. They need to be able to lift heavy pots and boxes of food.
The responsibilities of chefs and cooks are determined by a number of factors, including the type of restaurant in which they work. A chef’s job description might include the following—
• Create, plan and price menus 
• Prepare and cook the food according to customer’s order
• Arrange and garnish the food for serving
• Supervise other kitchen staff
• Maintain cleanliness in the workplace
• Supervise cleaning and 
dish washing 
• Buy food supplies and cooking equipment
• Keep records of supplies

Get to know the Chef’s Brigade

Chef titles are derived from the French brigade system. Get to know who’s who—
Executive chef
The executive chef is in charge of everything related to the kitchen, including menu creation, personnel management and business aspects. The executive chef can also be referred to as the “head chef” or “chef”.
Chef de cuisine
The chef de cuisine’s placement within the kitchen can vary depending on the individual restaurant’s hierarchy. Generally, it is either equivalent to an executive chef position, a position overseeing numerous establishments in a group of restaurants in charge of several executive chefs or a position equivalent to a sous chef, under the command of an executive sous chef.
Sous chef
The sous chef is the direct assistant of the executive chef. The Sous Chef often shares some duties with the executive chef, such as menu planning, costing and ordering. Larger kitchens often have more than one sous chef, with each covering a certain shift or having his or her own area of responsibility, such as the banquet sous chef, in charge of all banquets, or the executive sous chef, in charge of all other sous chefs.
Chef de partie
A chef de partie, also known as a “station chef” or “line cook”, is in charge of a particular area of production. In large kitchens, each station chef might have several cooks and/or assistants. In most kitchens however, the station chef is the only worker in that department. Line cooks are often divided into a hierarchy of their own, starting with “First Cook”, then “Second Cook”, and so on as needed.
Station chef titles can include:
Sauce chef or saucier: Prepares sauces, stews, and hot hors d’oeuvres, and sautés foods to order. This is usually the highest position of all the stations.
Fish cook or poissonier: Prepares fish dishes (this station may be handled by the saucier in some kitchens).
Vegetable cook or entremetier: Prepares vegetables, soups, starches, and eggs. Large kitchens may divide these duties among the vegetable cook, the fry cook, and the soup cook.
Roast cook or rotisseur: Prepares roasted and braised meats and their gravies, and broils meats and other items to order. A large kitchen may have a separate broiler cook or grillardin to handle the broiled items. The broiler cook may also prepare deep-fried meats and fish.
The pantry chef or garde manger: Is responsible for cold foods, including salads and dressings, pâtés, cold hors d’oeuvres, and buffet items.
Pastry chef or pâtissier: Prepares pastries and desserts.
The relief cook, swing cook, or tournant: Replaces other station heads.
Cooks and assistants: In larger kitchens, each station chef would have cooks and assistants (or, commis) that help with the particular duties that are assigned to that area. With experience, assistants may be promoted to station cooks and then to station chefs.