The Definitive Guide: How To Become A Commis Chef
Do you have a passion for cooking? Dreaming of becoming the next Gordon Ramsey? Everyone has to start from somewhere, and this is the first step on the ladder to becoming head chef.
You will need to be patient, as your success won’t come over night. There is a lot to learn and you may sometimes feel as though you are being given some jobs that you didn’t realise you signed up for, but even the celebrity chefs had to start from the bottom and as you learn new things you will be given more responsibility and will see the progress that you are making.
What is a Commis Chef?
A commis chef, or in other words a junior chef, is responsible for assisting the senior chefs in the kitchen.
As a commis chef, your duties could vary from day to day, but you will be learning all of the basics of cooking such as knife skills, cooking sauces, salads and cold starters, prepping veg for the other chefs and assisting with anything that they may ask you to do.
You will have to do some jobs that don’t involve cooking such as keeping an eye on stock levels, dealing with deliveries, checking the food and throwing away things that are out of date and taking the bins out. Some days might seem tough but if you have a true hunger for success you will be able to see it through until you are promoted. You will usually need to stick to this role for around 4-5 years before progressing.
You will also learn a great deal of discipline as the atmosphere in the kitchen can get heated and you will need to listen carefully to the head chef and be prepared to step up to the plate and do whatever is asked of you.
Hours of Work
In a full time role, you are likely to work a minimum of 40 hours per week. You will be working split shifts, evenings, weekends and you can forget about having your public holidays free.
So, what will your main responsibilities be as a Commis Chef?
Duties typically include:
- Preparing ingredients
- Measuring portion sizes
- Receiving deliveries
- Rotating stock
- Keeping an eye of expiry dates of food and throwing out the food when it’s out of date
- Keeping your area of the kitchen clean
- Following all health and safety policies
- Helping other areas of the kitchen when necessary
Key Commis Chef qualifications
Do you have the qualifications to get the job?
You will be taught everything you need to know on the job, however it is ideal to have some basic knowledge of cooking or experience in a kitchen. Employers will be looking for candidates who have a food hygiene certificate and have completed college courses such as:
Vital Commis Chef skills
Want to know if you’ve got what it takes? These are the skills you’ll need for the role
- Working quickly and efficiently
- Willingness to learn
- Attention to detail
- Passion for food
- Ability to work well under pressure
What is a Commis Chef’s salary?
Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty…
As a commis chef your starting salary will be around £12,000 to £16,000. With more experience in this role your salary could increase to £18,000.
How to become a Commis Chef
Now that you know what a Commis Chef does, how do you become one?
Aside from gaining college qualifications, another route you could take is doing an apprenticeship. This could enable you to get into the role more quickly as you will be studying and gaining experience at the same time.
Another way in which you could get into this career, is by working part time whilst studying within a kitchen environment – such as a kitchen porter or a dishwasher. It is not uncommon for people to be promoted from these roles as sometimes it will involve plating responsibilities or basic veg prep. Once you are in the right environment, it could be easier for you to see job opportunities for commis chef roles.
How to develop your Commis Chef career
What are the next steps? Once you have proved yourself as a junior in the kitchen, you are likely to be promoted to chef de partie. This is the chef that specialises in a certain area of cooking within the kitchen. From there you can work your way up to sous chef and even head chef!
Later on in your career, you can apply to work in a larger or more prestige venue such as a Michelin star restaurant. Or, if you are interested in learning about new cultures and have the travel bug, why not work aboard a cruise ship and travel whilst you work?
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