How to Become a Chef in Melbourne

Want to work as a professional chef? It isn't as complicated as you might think, if you have the right attitude and work ethic – yes, even without a culinary degree!

Creativity 7 min read Mar 31, 2023
How to Become a Chef in Melbourne

If you want to learn how to become a chef in Melbourne, there are several ways available to you, even if you don’t want or can’t afford to attend an expensive culinary school. In fact, there are successful chefs everywhere that started out as entry-level food preparers or dishwashers who worked their way up through the restaurant kitchen hierarchy.

Mastering the art of cooking is not easy and so, whichever route you choose, be prepared to put in long hours and hard work. Because if you have the passion and dedication, becoming a chef or cook in Melbourne can be an extremely rewarding career. But first things first…

Chefs and Cooks: Is there a difference?

Both chefs and cooks are important to a restaurant because they make sure the food is prepared properly, but in culinary school, there is a distinct difference between the two titles.

Chef is a term reserved for someone who has considerable experience in the field of cooking and with a background in different types of food preparation. A chef is more than just the person who prepares your food; they’re the person who creates menus, plans meals, orders food and ingredients, develops recipes, and organizes their kitchen staff.

In order to consistently produce quality food for customers, chefs must have extensive knowledge about food preparation methods, cooking techniques and equipment. They must be able to work efficiently with everyone who works in the kitchen, including the cooks.

While a cook is responsible for preparing all of the dishes ordered by restaurant diners. A cook must be able to prepare a wide variety of foods, including meats, fish, and vegetables as well as sauces and sides. They must be able to work in a team setting with people of different skill levels and abilities.

4 Ways You Can to Become a Chef in Melbourne

Cooking is an art form used to create delicious and nutritious meals. If you’re interested in becoming a chef, Melbourne has plenty of options where you can learn the necessary skills to work in the culinary industry.

#1 Attend a culinary school

You can become a chef by attending a Melbourne culinary school, where you will learn the basics of cooking everything from appetizers to desserts. You will learn proper food preparation, how to use industrial kitchen tools, new techniques and recipes, and of course, food safety and nutrition.

Attending a cooking class in a culinary institute is also a great way to mingle with other cooks. As in any industry, networking and making key business connections is a critical skill to have, so meet as many new people in the space as you can! Who knows, you might even stumble upon opportunities to work with some of the best chefs in the industry, maybe even get to travel to different parts of the world. You will also have the opportunity to participate in cooking competitions and learn from your peers.

So if you are looking for a fun and challenging experience, culinary school is worth considering, if you can afford it. If you want to get an idea on the costs, a 12-month Certificate III Course in Commercial Cookery amounts to almost $10,000, but with substantial savings for a government supported place or if you are a concession holder.

#2 Participate in a training program

Besides culinary schools, there are many training programs available that can help you become a chef or start your own cooking business, without the commitment and expense of a full certificate course.

Cooking schools offer many programs to choose from, both in-person and online. In-person cooking classes are a great way to learn face to face from a professional chef/instructor. You can ask questions and get feedback from them, plus you get to see what a good kitchen looks like. You can learn a lot by watching how the chef-teacher works and also by observing your classmates.

Online cooking courses are also a great option. There are many different types of cooking courses that you can take from the comfort of your own home. They are usually slightly cheaper since you will be working from your own kitchen and purchase your own ingredients. If you enjoy discovering things without personal instruction, online cooking classes might be the right way for you.

#3 Work as an apprentice chef

An apprenticeship is a program that allows you to learn from a professional chef while working in a kitchen. This program is usually for people who are just starting out in their culinary career or who want to improve their skills.

Apprenticeships can be a great way to gain hands-on experience in your chosen field while potentially also earning a wage. They can last anywhere from one to four years, depending on the program. There are many different types of apprenticeships available, so it is important to find one that matches your interests and skills and make it more likely that you will enjoy the experience.

Start by going to your favourite job hunting sites and researching “apprentice chef” options. Once you have a good idea of what is available, you can begin narrowing down your choices based on what is important to you, like the type of program, the length of the apprenticeship, and the location.

#4 Become an intern to gain experience

Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant kitchen knows that there is no substitute for real-world experience when it comes to becoming a chef. You need to get your hands dirty and work with food every single day.

Internships are a great way to get your foot in the door in the culinary industry. Not only do they give you hands-on experience, but they also can lead to job opportunities. That’s also why so many culinary schools require their students to complete an internship in a professional kitchen.

Whether you’re learning how to chop vegetables or make a roux, you’ll be able to put what you learn into practice immediately, whether you’re working in a restaurant, catering company, or even in someone’s home, say as a personal chef or cook. By getting your hands dirty and learning as you go, you can hone your craft and develop the skills you need to succeed.

Can a home cook become a professional chef?

Anyone can become a chef with enough hard work and determination. There are many chefs who did not go to culinary school, but instead, learned their trade through apprenticeships and years of experience.

Surely you’ve heard of Gordon Ramsay, one of the most well-known chefs in the world. He has starred in several cooking shows, including Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares. Did you know, Gordon never went to culinary school; instead, he started working in restaurants when he was just 15 years old.

Australia’s own Bill Granger is another case in point. He was a food and bakery novice when he dropped out of art school and opened his first restaurant less than 20 years later. Now, his food empire comprises thousands of different restaurant chains around Australia and three other continents. Bill has also written eleven cookbooks with sales of more than one million copies, not to mention countless TV appearances.

Or how about Emelia Jackson, winner of MasterChef Australia back in 2020? Emelia, who is wildly popular for her perfect, delicate choux pastries, is another self-taught cook with impeccable baking skills. Her skills were fostered by her mother and grandmother, who likely tutored her in their home kitchen while growing up.

If you want to become a chef in Melbourne, a basic understanding of cooking techniques and ingredients is required. One of the great things about having cooking as a vocation is that you never stop learning; the industry is constantly evolving, so it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest trends and techniques by taking a cooking class or two for further professional development.

Whether you take the culinary school or the self-taught route to get to where you want to be, the most important factor when it comes to becoming a chef is passion.

If you love cooking, have an outgoing personality, and are willing to learn new skills, becoming a chef in Melbourne is definitely within your reach. Check out a cooking class today.

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