Cheffing and Culinary Arts

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No career will win you more friends than cheffing and the culinary arts! Great chefs maximise the pleasure and joy of eating. The great French writer Voltaire once proclaimed that “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”

You will find professional cookery courses all over the country. All courses include work placement as part of the syllabus.

Obviously, you need creativity and cooking ability. However, a career in the culinary arts also calls for knowledge of nutrition. Business skills are also be invaluable to those seeking success in this highly competitive sector.

Education

Any student with an interest in becoming a chef – or in choosing any other catering-related career – has a number of options. You could study Culinary Arts at an Institute of Technology. Culinary Arts courses combine all aspects of practical cookery tuition with academic subjects. These include Food Science, Product Development, and Entrepreneurial Studies. Three-year ordinary and four-year honours degrees are available, as well as two-year higher certificates, including one in DIT that specialises in healthy food provision and nutrition.

Cheffing is also, ahem, ‘catered’ for at further education level. One-year Level 5 Certificates in Hotel & Catering – Professional Cookery are available from a variety of education providers.

Further Education.  

Hotel & Catering and Hospitality Management courses at higher and further level also include modules on catering management and food preparation.

The Work

After qualification, most chefs take a job in a kitchen and work their way up the ranks. Quick progression, though possible, requires hard work and dedication. Chefs have a rigid career ladder: there is the trainee chef, the commis chef (assistant), the chef de partie (section leader), the sous chef (deputy head) and the chef de cuisine (head chef). Other career opportunities in the food sector include restaurant management, along with food promotion, writing, styling, and product development.

Chefs oversee the preparation and cooking of food and meals in kitchens. Larger restaurants or other establishments usually have teams of chefs who each have different responsibilities (e. g. , desserts, vegetables), with a number of specialist chefs working under a head chef.

Junior chefs’ tasks and duties usually include cleaning the kitchen, unloading deliveries, and the preparation of food and vegetables. Senior chefs often have administrative responsibilities such as staff management, training, stock control, and accounting.

Chefs work in all kinds of places – mostly restaurants and hotels, but also pubs, cruise liners, and schools. Kitchens are generally stressful, hot, and noisy places to work and some head chefs run their kitchens like army generals. Long and unsociable hours, and split shifts are all part of the job. There are many positives too – the opportunity to self-express, work within a tight-knit team, along with the chance to travel and work in other countries.

Did you know?

Cooking is believed to have made us smarter – by encouraging our far-distant ancestors to socialise, cooking facilitated the development of our neural pathways and thus assisted the growth of our brains.

Further Resources

Chef Network

Restaurants Association of Ireland


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Whichcollege.ie is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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