How to Become a Cook
By Eric Hammer
First off, if you want to become a cook because you think
it's an easy profession, think again. While it can be a lot of
fun, it is also a job which entails a great deal of hard work,
extremely long hours and a lot of standing up on your feet over
a hot stove. And don't forget that a part of being a cook also
means cleaning up after you're done cooking whatever it is you're
making. Here's what you need to know:
With the advent of the cooking shows on television such as
Iron Chef and Top Chef, the desire to become a cook has never
been higher. These shows tend to romanticize the business of
being a cook and make it seem like it's all about experimenting
in the kitchen and trying something new each day of the week.
In reality, most cooks have to learn how to do things in a repetitive
way and have little time to experiment with new ingredients.
You should also expect to rise early, often getting to the
restaurant as early as 6AM. Leaving work at midnight is quite
common for many cooks because the work is simply that grueling.
You will basically be standing for 12 hours a day preparing meals,
usually the same things over and over again. You will also find
that you need to do a lot of prep on your free time (whatever
little there is) so that you can come up with new menu creations.
How Much Can You Make?
The best chefs in America do make six figure incomes, however
a more realistic expectation is that you could make somewhere
around $30,000-$50,000 per year.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Those wishing to become a cook need to really be sure that
they want to do the job. While it can be a great deal of fun
to be a cook, it is also a job which requires you to really love
what you do simply because it is such a demanding profession.
It's also useful to note that you won't immediately have your
own kitchen. The odds are good that you will spend a number of
years working under a master chef who will teach you to make
dishes that he likes.
You will also need to have a strong back as you'll often need
to take inventory when it arrives from the wholesalers and put
the food away. This is in addition to standing for as many as
14 hours per day in front of a hot stove and being under constant
pressure to perform and get the work done that you have been
paid to do.
On the other hand, for those who love to cook, there is simply
no other possible job that could compare because there is nothing
quite like preparing a meal from start to finish and occasionally
seeing the faces of your customers light up when they taste your
Qualifications / Requirements
Generally, you'll need to go to culinary school in order to
become a cook. While you can simply get a job as a short order
cook by working in a fast food restaurant, those interested in
doing something more will need a degree where they learned how
to do the kind of work that you simply cannot learn to do when
you flip burgers.
Start by visiting some kitchens and asking if you can get
work in them doing any job available. Take the time to befriend
the cooks and learn something about the job. Even if you are
only a dishwasher, you'll pick up quite a bit. Then, if you are
sure this is what you want to do, apply to a culinary school.
Note that many schools will have an entrance exam where you need
to prepare a dish for the examiners, so be sure you know something
about cooking before you apply.
Eggbeater: How Do I Get a Professional Cooking/Baking
Job? - This is another excellent introduction to what it
takes to become a cook.