The Qualifications Required to Become a Chef in the UK
More and more people in the UK are choosing a career as a qualified chef. With the rise of the ‘celebrity chef’ over recent years the appeal of this highly-rewarding career is proving too tempting for many. In this article we will provide some tips on the best route to train as a chef in the UK. Remember, it is not essential, nor is it a requirement, to obtain formal qualifications in order to become a chef. In addition to this, it does not mean that you won’t find success if you do not embark on an accredited course. However, if you have the time and the determination, we strongly recommend that you do.
It is far better to start off on the right foot and receive the correct training, as opposed to working in a kitchen where there is a distinct lack of experience or know-how. Here, you will only pick up bad habits and traits.
Where you get the right training for you is a different matter altogether and one that is totally down to individual choice and preference. Before you embark on any training course we strongly recommend that you find out everything there is to know about the course, who will be teaching you, what the course covers in terms of content, and how long it lasts.
We will now provide you with some useful information on the type of courses that are available to you.
THE PROFESSIONAL CHEF DIPLOMA – NVQ LEVELS 1,2 AND 3
You will find that there are a number of colleges and Universities that run the Professional Chef Diploma course. If you have the time and dedication this is a great way to learn your trade as a chef. The course is extremely in-depth and it requires the candidate’s thorough attention for the 3 year duration. In order to enrol on the course you will need to have a good level of education and an obvious passion for the industry.
Successful completion of the professional chef diploma will almost guarantee you work as the qualification is highly regarded within the industry.
WHAT DOES THE COURSE CONSIST OF?
Year 1 – NVQ Level 1 in Food Preparation; Basic Food Hygiene Certificate; Part completion of NVQ 2 Food Service; ABC Pastry Level 2 Certificate.
Year 2 – NVQ Level 2 in Food Preparation; NVQ Level 2 in Food Service; Intermediate Food Hygiene; ABC Advanced Pastry Level Diploma.
Year 3 – NVQ Level 3 – including kitchen, larder and pastry work; Diploma with culinary arts which include gastronomy, wines and supervision.
GETTING ON TO THE PROFESSIONAL CHEF DIPLOMA COURSE
The first step is to find a college or educational establishment that runs the course. See the ‘Training courses and Qualifications’ page for more information.
Most educational establishments that run the course will invite you to attend an interview to see whether you are right for them, and they are right for you. Remember that the course is 3 years in duration and naturally they want to know that you are going to have the ability and dedication to complete it.
The types of questions you are likely to be asked are as follows:
- Why do you want to study on this course?
- Why have you chosen this college/university?
- Have you studied before at such a level?
- What experience/qualifications do you have already within your chosen profession?
- What do you know about the course already?
- What will you do with your qualification if you are successful in passing the course?
BTEC NATIONAL CERTIFICATE IN HOSPITALITY SUPERVISION
- This is a 2 year course which will provide you with in-depth knowledge of catering, hospitality, and restaurant and hotel management. The course combines the BTEC National Certificate with the appropriate NVQ’s and you will need to have at least 4 GCSE’s at grade A-C or the equivalent to enroll on the course. A good standard of written English is also required.
- The course is full time and you will need to attend an interview in order to be accepted onto the course.
- During the course you will have the opportunity to work in real restaurants and kitchens which all forms part of the NVQ for Food Production. The course structure also gives you the opportunity to study in specific areas such as Hospitality Customer Care and Supervision.
ADVANCED CHEF DIPLOMA – DAY RELEASE
The Advanced Chef Diploma is an intensive 30 day course which is run on a ‘day release’ basis. It is ideal for Chef’s who are already working within the industry and it is designed to further increase knowledge, skill and understanding of the industry. The course is run by experienced and highly qualified chef’s and is predominantly practical based. Amongst other topics the course covers the following elements:
- Advanced cookery Methods
- Skills and Techniques
- Health and safety
- Equipment and Commodities
During this course you will be continuously assessed by experienced chef’s and you will be required to create a portfolio of you work that will also be assessed at the end of the. In order to enrol on the course you will need to already be working as a chef and have NVQ Level 2 qualifications or similar.
FOUNDATION DEGREE IN CULINARY ARTS
The Foundation degree in Culinary Arts is usually 3 years in duration and is on a full time basis.
The course combines work-based projects with study modules to develop food production and cooking skills to a high level which meets the needs of a range of quality hospitality and catering outlets. There will normally be up to 20 people on the course and the qualifications/requirements to enrol are as follows:
Under 21 – Those under 21 should normally have one full A level, an NVQ, or an Advanced Modern Apprenticeship which includes level 3 qualifications in a service related topic.
Over 21 – Those candidates who are over 21 may not need qualifications depending on the establishment running the course. However, the lack of qualifications will need to be replaced with experience within the industry.
Depending on the establishment you wish to study at the courses normally begin in either February or September.
CRAFT BAKERY CITY AND GUILDS LEVEL 2
This one year course is designed to prepare you for a career in the Bakery or Catering industry and is a Nationally recognised qualification. The course covers the following elements
• Receiving and storing bakery material
• How to maintain a safe and hygienic environment
• How to maintain good working relationships
• How to operate and monitor bakery machines
• How to contribute to production control, efficiency and product quality
There are also further ‘optional’ elements to the course that you may wish to study:
• How to prepare and mix ingredients for fermented products
• How to portion, form and shape fermented products
• How to condition and bake fermented products
• How to prepare and mix ingredients for non-fermented products
• How to portion, form and shape non-fermented products
Those people who complete the course often progress on to work for a bakery or catering employer. There is always a demand for qualified staff in this area.
Do you want to train to become a chef?
Chris Flatt, an experienced chef of 17 years, has written a comprehensive 238-page book on the different training routes to becoming a chef, how you can easily gain valuable experience, ho to put together the all-important CV that WILL get your foot in the door as well as detailed advice on personal equipment, marketing yourself and setting up your own business.
Contents of How to Become a Chef include:
- CHAPTER 1 – Introduction
- CHAPTER 2 – What’s It Like To Work As A Chef?
- CHAPTER 3 – The Different Training Routes Open For Chefs
- CHAPTER 4 – Training to become a chef
- CHAPTER 5 – Once qualified – the different routes you can take for gaining experience
- CHAPTER 6 – How to build up your CV, including sample templates
- CHAPTER 7 – Example work experience needed to become a 5 star Hotel Head Chef
- CHAPTER 8 – Personal Equipment
- CHAPTER 9 – Setting Up Your Own Business
- CHAPTER 10 – Marketing yourself as a self-employed chef/business
- CHAPTER 11 – Coming to the UK to study and work as a Chef
- CHAPTER 12 – Frequently asked questions