How to Become a Professional Cook

So You Think You Can Cook?

Have you ever hosted a dinner party or brought food to a family function and had people tell you your food is so good you should open a restaurant? Have you ever considered cooking as a career path?

A lot of people can cook, but that doesn’t mean they have what it takes to cook in a restaurant. Cooking in a home kitchen for a family of four is nothing like cooking in a restaurant kitchen. Everything from the ingredients, to the equipment, to the recipes, are different.



Home Cooking vs. Restaurant Cooking

A lot of people open restaurants because friends and family raved about their cooking. Sometimes this works, but usually, a great home chef starts working in a restaurant kitchen and finds out pretty early on that it’s not the same .

For one thing, even though the food is most important, to be successful in restaurant, money has to be the bottom line. This means cutting corners that a home chef would never think of, often resulting in a finished result that is less than perfect. This could be using products that are less expensive or more convenient, or making things in larger batches, ending up with something that’s not quite the same.

A professional chef uses different kitchen equipment as well. It’s bigger, more powerful and requires somewhat of a learning curve.  In general restaurant equipment is more durable and made to use for hours on end on a daily basis. This also means it’s much more expensive.

Since you are serving the public, there are much stricter health standards that have to be met. A home cook can get away with much more, but in a restaurant kitchen, you are subject to a surprise health inspection at any time. If you fail, you could have to pay large fines, and you can even be shut down.

How Can I Become a Professional Cook?

Well knowing how to cook certainly helps, but that’s not all that’s involved. If you want to open your own restaurant, a good business sense is a must. Good food will get people in the door, but people have to know you have good food before they’ll come in. This means marketing and promoting your business. Once they’re there, you have to be able to provide a good overall experience if you want them to come back. The atmosphere has to be comfortable and match the type of food you’re offering, and you can’t forget about service. No matter how good your food is, if customer’s feel like you don’t appreciate their business, they will not go back.

If owning your own restaurant isn’t your goal, there are many options. If you’re serious about a food in cooking and the restaurant industry in general, culinary school is a great option. There, you’ll learn the business inside and out and learn to cook professionally. This is an expensive investment both in time and money though, so it’s not something to take lightly.

There are many, many jobs as cooks out there, from high end dining, to easier to obtain jobs such as short order cooks or jobs in small cafes. Most are an excellent way to see if you have what it takes to cook in a professional kitchen or if you are better suited to just keep your skills confined to your own kitchen.

Whether you own your own restaurant or just cook a bit on the side, there are plenty of options for those out there with the skills to make good food. If you think you have what it takes, cooking in a restaurant can be profitable and rewarding and lead to a long and fruitful career.



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