When it comes to chefs, the perception is often of them working in a stressful environment during unsociable hours in a restaurant. While this may be true for a number of roles, there are other options available for those eager to work in a culinary environment, roles which may better suit their situation or career ambitions.
At ASA we’ve seen a number of cases where well trained and prepared chefs often find themselves in a role that doesn’t suit their own personal needs. This can be for a variety of reasons, whether it be the hours they’re working, the type of people they’re serving or the food that’s being cooked.
Working within a restaurant environment can often provide unforeseen challenges to newly employed staff. There are a variety of reasons why some chefs find it difficult at restaurants and then, unfortunately, fall out of love with the profession.
Thankfully though, there are a number of other roles that offer different job opportunities and benefits, many of which may appeal to candidates who are keen to pursue a culinary career.
You could be catering for a wedding, family gatherings, conferences, award ceremonies or even charity events. But it’s also worth noting that the type of people you’ll work with and cater for, have the potential to be different every time, allowing you ample opportunities to learn from interacting with a range of different people.
The nature of one-off events will also mean that chefs will be required to travel to different external venues, broadening their horizons and working with different people. This could even mean picking up new ideas and vital experience from other culinary experts, providing valuable professional knowledge to allow you to continue your development as a chef.
Working within a corporate environment and serving business professionals during breakfast, lunch and dinner hours could present those looking for a professional culinary career a chance to work normal business hours, Monday to Friday, 9am till 5pm. These sort of hours aren’t available for chefs working in a restaurant environment with time off during evenings –and especially weekends – at a premium.
In a corporate environment the opposite is true, a large majority of business professionals don’t often work at weekends and so there’s no need to keep the kitchen and café areas staffed. These type of chef and culinary positions are ideal for those who value their time or perhaps need weekends off for family reasons.
Corporate catering can still offer the benefits of experience that a restaurant environment would provide, but can also aid with personal development and even further career opportunities within a corporate capacity. Giving chefs who work in this sector not only a chance to develop themselves within a secure environment, but also offer more flexible working hours than what they may have worked in a restaurant.
Catering positions within community positions and locations such as schools, retirement homes and children’s homes to give just some of the many available examples. Working in PVG (protection of vulnerable groups) environments means that chefs will have to cater to a number of different types of people.
Many of these roles will require a basic disclosure check to allow an employer to view a candidates’ criminal record and confirm if they’re a suitable person to work with either children or vulnerable adults.
Apart from the check, working in PVG will still be able to offer the same type of professional opportunities and development chances that chefs will be able to find when working in other environments.
Further responsibility when working with PVGs may actually provide valuable experience and responsibilities not found when working with events, restaurants or in corporate catering.
No matter the type of environment, chefs will always be judged on the quality of their food and this fact shouldn’t be lost when looking at the different types of chef positions that are available. Time efficiency, performing at a consistently high standard and working with the utmost professionalism will naturally be expected as well.
But those who believe that chefs only work within restaurants during unsociable hours shouldn’t be put off by the profession with that mindset. There are other options available which can present more appropriate shift patterns, potentially more responsibilities outside the usual duties you’d find in a restaurant and even better development options to further a culinary career.
Working within a restaurant environment will certainly suit a number of eager chefs and for those people it will be a worthwhile career move. But for those who are more open or suited to other environments, it’s well worth looking at all the available options before making your next move.
We’ve seen a number of candidates come and go without fulfilling their culinary career under the assumption that they must work in a stereotypical restaurant, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
The different options we’ve presented above are some that those who want to pursue a career as a chef should explore,without restricting themselves to the stereotypical culinary environments.
For more information, please contact Tessa Huntley at ASA