What they do

Chefs plan, prepare, cook, arrange and present food that is served in dining establishments such as restaurants, hotels, pubs, cafeterias, aeroplanes, cruise ships and work camps. They plan menus and monitor the quality of dishes at all stages of preparation, as well as demonstrating techniques and advising on cooking procedures. Chefs may specialise in a particular cuisine.

Chefs are also responsible for managing kitchen operations, purchasing foodstuffs, and keeping the kitchen clean and hygienic. Other responsibilities include receiving and storing provisions, and training and supervising other staff.

Working conditions

Often a chef is expected to work long hours and weekends, in sometimes hot and humid conditions. Evening and weekend work can interfere with personal commitments and shift work can be tiring. Cuts and burns are common injuries for chefs as they work with sharp knives and hot appliances.

A chef can also expect to change employers often, in order to gain more experience or to be promoted.

Tools and technologies

Depending on the type of restaurant, a chef may be expected to use a range of cooking appliances and utensils. They will also be required to adhere to strict hygiene standards, and this may require the use of hair nets or hats. Their work is generally indoors in dining establishments, but in some circumstances, such as working in the armed forces, they may work in the 'field,' using a mobile kitchen.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a chef, you usually need to undertake an apprenticeship in chef or chef – Asian. Alternatively, you can gain a qualification in commercial cookery.

The chef and chef – Asian apprenticeships usually take 36 months to complete. The chef apprenticeship is available as a school-based apprenticeship.

The Certificate III and IV in Commercial Cookery is offered at TAFE Colleges and other registered training organisations throughout Western Australia. To find a training provider near you, browse the Jobs and Skills WA website or visit the My Skills website.

Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend  time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.

You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.