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How to get into the food industry? Pt. 1 Chefs, Pastry Chefs

“Be persistent in your search, there are so many hospitality businesses, keep your chin up and don’t let no’s deter you.”

 

 

The food world is your oyster. Let me repeat, the food world is your oyster.

 

There are so many avenues in this glorious industry that we will be exploring in more detail in further blog posts. I just want you to know that if you start with a passion, drive and a love for what you want to do it will guide you to where you want to be.

 

Some of the most common questions that I receive:

 

Do I need formal training to enter into the food industry?

 

Short answer: No
Long answer: If you want to work in kitchens it is not a pre requirement that you have formal training. From my experience what matters more is a willing attitude and drive to learn. Taking an entry level position in a kitchen and learning on the job is also a very viable route in. Find the right environment for you.

 

 

I’m thinking of switching careers and going to be a chef, any advice?

 

Think of the type of places you could see yourself working. Message them and ask to do a few days of work experience. Get a feel for it first before taking the plunge.
Remember, if there’s an avenue that you don’t like (e.g. restaurant work) there’s lots of others so spend time exploring those.
Once you’ve decided GO FOR IT, GO GO GO.

 

 

How can I learn before I enter a kitchen environment?

 

We are at an age where we have so much information readily available to us, more so now than ever before. Utilize that.
YouTube tutorials
Instagram
Online courses
Books. Read cookbooks like they are novels and practice, practice, practice!

 

 

Where can I go to get formal training if I want it?

 

Westminster Kingsway
Leiths school of food and wine
Ballymaloe
Le Cordon Bleu

 

 

Is unpaid work experience in kitchens exploitative?

 

There is a fine line between learning and being taken advantage of and it’s very important to understand that line.

 

Unpaid work experience is very normal in the hospitality industry and when pursued correctly it can be invaluable.

 

Bear in mind that kitchens often run under tight profit margins and timelines. There can be a lot of time pressure to get work done. When you are entering a kitchen for the first time because there is no knowledge of your skill set you will often get given small tasks and jobs that can feel mundane. This isn’t personal, this is because there is a lot of expectation on the chefs to deliver to a certain level.

 

I would recommend embracing this, working to get the tasks completed efficiently and asking questions when you can. Offering to assist on other jobs if you finish yours in time.
Don’t expect to be given all of the fun jobs. It can be very difficult to delegate properly in a time efficient manner.

 

Instead use your time to get a feel for the environment, how do the staff treat each other, do you like the ethos of the company? Do you like the food?

 

A few days for free is not uncommon however if it turns into a case where you are being heavily relied on for free then you need to question whether you are comfortable being unpaid for this.

 

 

How do I get a stage?

 

Email companies that you would like to gain work experience at
Send an instagram DM
Go in person with your CV/details and ask a manager
Don’t get deterred if you don’t receive a response, keep trying different places. Eventually you will get a YES.

 

 

With no experience how do I go about getting my foot in the door?

 

Be prepared to start at an entry level position, if you’re eager and willing to learn this will help you to progress. Use every experience as a learning one and be prepared to get stuck in!
If the places that you want to work in are not employing, you can try to ask for a few days work experience. That can often put your name out there for when that company looks for staff.
Be persistent in your search, there are so many hospitality businesses, keep your chin up and don’t let no’s deter you.

 

 

What are the types of jobs in the hospitality industry and expected salaries?

 

Nationally in the UK the minimum wage is £6.45 (for those between 18-20) £8.20 (for those between 21-24) and it’s £8.72 per hour (for those over 25 years), the London living wage is £10.50.

 

In a restaurant setting you can be paid hourly or on a yearly salary. Often hours worked in a restaurant full time can vary between 45-60 hours per week.
If you are working over 48 hours per week you will need to sign a waiver.

 

Sometimes your salary will be made up with something called Tronc. Tronc means service charge and it can be used to make up your salary.

 

Restaurant work
These are based on averages in London. These salaries are also dependent on the size of the team and the type of establishment. A small neighbourhood restaurant will have differing salary brackets compared to a large hotel for example.

 

Restaurant chef/ pastry chef:

  • Commis (£17-21k)
  • Demi (£21-23k)
  • Chef de partie (£23-27k)
  • Junior Sous chef (£27-32k)
  • Sous chef (£32-35k)
  • Head Chef (32-45k+)
  • Executive chef (£50k+)

 

Private chef:
This will vary massively depending on the type of work and client.
Hourly should comply with the national minimum wage. Day rates can start from £100 and can go all the way up to the thousands. It varies depending on experience and the level of cuisine expected)
(More on the private chef world in another article coming soon)

If working in restaurants isn’t for you, don’t be discouraged – there’s plenty of other roles (salary varies depending on location and position):

  • Butcher
  • Baker
  • Bread baker
  • Head baker
  • Artisan maker
  • Production chef
  • Home economist
  • Food stylist
  • Food writer
  • Food photographer
  • Food buyer
  • Food PR
  • Social media for food businesses
  • Marketing for food businesses
  • Product development
  • Consultancy
  • Food presenter

We hope you found this article helpful! Keep an eye on our social media for more updates to our latest blogs.


 

Words by Ravneet Gill
Photography by Caitlin Isola, Sophie Davidson, Ravneet Gill

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