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Chefs

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to 2016-17: > 50 000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $801 to 950 (Source: DEEWR Australian Jobs 2012: www.deewr.gov.au/australian-jobs-publication)
Brief One cup creativity, two cups consistency and a whole lot of perseverance are what it takes to be a chef or a cook. Chefs and cooks prepare, cook, arrange and present food in places such as restaurants, hotels, pubs, cafeterias, aeroplanes, cruise ships and work camps.

There are currently around 2,700 chefs employed in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the accommodation, cafés and restaurants industry. Most persons in this occupation are male and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. This occupation has a younger age profile with only a fifth of chefs aged 45 years or older.

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Introduction

Whether in award-winning restaurants or fast food eateries, toiling in the kitchens amongst the fruit, fettuccine and the fries, are the chefs and cooks. A career in the kitchens is one that requires a great deal of perseverance. You'll be coping with the early starts, long hours and lost weekends, but if you have the knack for culinary creativity and consistency then it could be the job for you. And it offers good job prospects too; this is an occupation with great opportunities over the next few years. We certainly expect continued growth.

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Education Requirements

Of those currently employed 62% have a Certificate III or IV; 3% have a Bachelor Degree; 5% have an Advanced Diploma or Diploma; and 25% have no post school qualification. It is strongly recommended that further study is undertaken if you want to remain competitive while looking for employment.

TAFE SA offers the following courses to help you find employment in this occupation:

Certificate II in Kitchen Operations
Certificate II and III in Asian Cookery
Certificate III and IV in Commercial Cookery

There are SA Apprenticeships available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services website, http://www.skills.sa.gov.au/contact-us/traineeship-and-apprenticeship-services or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

Still unsure? Then contact the TAFE SA Information Line on 1800 882 661 to enquire about the availability of related short courses.

Career Path

Chefs can be employed in a wide range of establishments such as hotels, motels, restaurants, clubs, cafés, staff restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals, flight catering centres, seagoing vessels and food processing factories. With enough experience and sufficient capital, they may become the owners of restaurants. The majority of chefs work in capital cities and in large country centres, particularly in areas where there are tourist resorts.

The growth in tourism has increased demand for highly skilled chefs, particularly in establishments of international standard. In large kitchens the progression is usually from commis chef, to chef de partie, to sous chef, to head chef, to executive chef or food manager. Movement between employers within the industry may be required in order to gain experience and promotion.

It is a very large occupation with very good employment opportunities.

Interview

Jonathan Kemble – Chef
'I enjoy promoting cookery through school career nights and cooking demonstrations.'
After finishing high school and with the opportunity of entering university, Jonathan took time out of formal education to think about his career options. After experiencing cookery through a scholarship in Asian cuisine his passion for cooking was realised and he soon won an apprenticeship as a chef.

Jonathan completed his Certificate III in Asian Cookery and Commercial Cookery and finished his apprenticeship in June 2003. He skipped two levels in the kitchen and was appointed to the more senior role of demi-chef at Adelaide restaurant, Urban Bistro, while he also looked after Urban Bistro’s first-year apprentice and helped with career counselling at Pultney Grammar School. Jonathan is now enjoying the new challenge of working as the Sous Chef at the Star of Greece restaurant.

Jonathan is passionate about cooking and his ambition is to become the best chef in the country. He has also started his own small catering business. 'My ultimate goal is to own several restaurants,' he said, 'I’m now considering studying management to develop my skills as a business operator.'

In 2003, Jonathan won South Australian Apprentice of the Year as part of the South Australian Training Awards and went on to also win the national award. Jonathan appreciates the value of learning and how it allows him to look further ahead to bigger and brighter things. 'I enjoy promoting cookery through school career nights and cooking demonstrations,' he said. Jonathan has also taught cookery at TAFE to children during the school holidays.

Jonathan won the prestigious 2003 Bonland Proud To Be A Chef Scholarship, which last year rewarded him with a trip to an international food festival in Canada to learn from the world-class chefs. He says his secret to success is simple, 'Enthusiasm, persistence and a determined work ethic.'

Nature of the Job

Chefs and cooks can take on a wide range of tasks or specialities depending upon their skills and where they work. They are often responsible for managing kitchens, purchasing foodstuffs, preparing and cooking food and presenting it. They are also responsible for keeping kitchens clean and hygienic. Chefs and cooks are supported by people working as kitchen hands and fast food cooks. Other duties include receiving and storing supplies, planning menus and training and supervising other staff.

Although qualified, Commis chefs are likely to be the least experienced chefs in the kitchen. Chef de partis control sections of the kitchen. Sous chefs are second in command. Executive chefs-also called chefs de cuisine, plan menus, oversee all staff and supervise the overall operation of the kitchen.

Typical Physical Working Environment

Concentrating on the task at hand is very important, as cooks and chefs work with sharp knives and around hot appliances. Cuts and burns are the most common occupational dangers. High standards of personal hygiene are a must, as a lack of attention to health and hygiene can spread disease and put clients at risk. Both chefs and cooks are required to do shift work, including weekends and public holidays, which can interfere with their social life. Cooking for a dinner banquet, where dessert may not be served until very late, then having to be back for the breakfast shift, can be tiring. And cooks and chefs spend a lot of time on their feet. On the other hand, its a very sociable occupation where you work in a team environment.

Typical Occupational Example

Chefs and cooks, particularly those working in larger establishments, often specialise in a particular cuisine or the preparation of a particular food. These range from Asian to African cuisines, to sauces (chef saucier) and to salads. And with confidence, creativity and experience, the possibilities are endless for creating new styles of cooking or combining different ingredients. There are four main levels of chefs - commis chefs, chef de partis, sous chefs and head (or executive) chefs that a person may progress through.

Earning Potential

Starting out as a fast food cook or a line cook is a good way of finding out whether this career is for you. 'People who start out in fast food places can get entry level training and credit for further studies,' explains a local chef, 'and this provides a good starting ground to teach people the fundamentals and skills needed for the industry.' If you're going to carve your niche, you will need formal training and extensive experience. Opportunities for employment exist wherever food is served. This area provides excellent opportunities as the demand for tourism and personal services expand. 'While the work is demanding and the starting pay is around $32,000 to $36,000 a year, dedicated and hard-working people can find themselves in supervisory roles earning more than this.' Expect to be mobile. The turnover rate in this occupation is high. It is often necessary to change employers in order to gain more experience, or to be promoted.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online