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    As you can imagine, Jamie’s diary is incredibly busy and – as much as he’d love to – there simply aren’t enough hours in the day for him to attend every event he’s invited to.

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How do I become a chef?

  • Jamie often gets asked for advice on becoming a chef. Here are his top tips for getting started

    1. If you’re just starting out and you want a weekend job, get one in a restaurant, pub, fishmonger’s, bakers, butcher’s or on a fruit and veg stall. All of these are really valid ways to learn about food. Then, as the years go by, try and move on to something different or to a more challenging restaurant.

    2. Use the summer holidays to do a work placement in a really exciting hotel or restaurant or food purveyor, street food. Whether it’s for a week or a month, you’ll get a real feel for the kitchen and the way a team works together. After this, you’ll have a good idea whether you can handle the job, the hours, the money and the ups and downs that happen while working in a highly pressured kitchen. I’ve never heard of any head chef who’s refused an enthusiastic stranger on the end of a phone the chance to come and do a work placement for free. It’s quite common for it to happen to any chef and you may find yourself with a good job offer at the end of it!

    3. Having done those last two, you now have three options to consider, none of which are necessarily the right answer:

    (a) Go straight into a professional job. Jump in at the deep end with possibly not enough skills but be bold enough to carry it off. And learn on the job – get on the job training. This is quite common these days.

    (b) Go to the best local catering college and do a two- or three-year course that gives you an insight into the science of cooking, culinary language, front-of-house, management and the accounting sides of the business. That’s what I did and I enjoyed it, although I did find that it lacked the real vibe of the kitchen. I found that working in restaurants over the holidays and at the weekends gave me a really good balance.

    (c) I’ve always thought arranging to do day-release over two or three years at a good local college is a really good idea. It means you can get a full-time job, which challenges, inspires and pays you, and with your employer’s support you can go to college one day a week.

    There’s nothing you can’t achieve with hard work, passion and real commitment for cooking. Read as many books as you can get your hands on, and try to work in other countries for authenticity, if you can. I also used to save up and go out for a posh meal with my fellow chefs every five weeks for education.

    Food and cooking is one of the most exciting, dynamic industries on the planet and it often employs some of the most brilliant people. I know the industry still has a reputation for terrible money and hours, but things are really changing – yes you might not make huge money right at the beginning, but these days if you run a small artisan outfit you can make a lovely living out if it. The sky’s the limit!

    So, get stuck in, get cooking and good luck!




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