Thinking of Becoming the Next Iron Chef?

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Thinking of Becoming the Next Iron Chef?

Post  CSOO7 on Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:41 am

So you like eating and have an interest in food? Would you rather watch Alton Brown dissect and experiment with celery than catch the next episode of Lost? Think you have what it takes to be the next Ferran Adria and Thomas Keller? Well, read on!

First Step: Finding your inner Escoffier

Face it, not everyone was meant to be a cook. The first thing you should do is determine whether or not you actually have some natural ability. Take a home ec. class or two, or try some simple recipes at home. Does the end result look edible? Will you eat it? Will your dog eat it? Is your house still standing? If the answer is yes, then congratulations, you've passed the first step!

*Ok, this first part was meant as a bit of a joke, except maybe for the part about taking a home ec. course*

Second Step: So You Think You Can Cook

Ok, so now you can make cookies and muffins. What next? My suggestion will be to enroll in the ACE-IT program. It's an industry training program offered between the ITA (Industry Training Authority) and the school board. The program offers graduation credits, as well as the in-school technical training of your first year apprenticeship. Part of the program also includes work 120 hours of work experience, which may also count towards your apprenticeship hours and more importantly, start establishing connections with the local chefs and restaurateurs. In simple terms, it's like an AP course for technical trades. Talk to Mr. Montgomery for more information about it.

Third Step: The Long and Winding (and harsh and hot and hellish) Road

This is it. The point of no return. If you still have doubts and hesitation, turn back now. Being a cook is a very tough and demanding job. No sane person will work in a kitchen just as a part-time job. It takes a special kind of person, one who is fully committed and passionate about cooking, to work in a kitchen. I'm not saying this to scare you or dissuade you, but to tell you the fact right now so that you can still reconsider if you wish to.

So I have been talking about apprenticeship. What exactly is that about? To become a certified cook, you need 5400 hours of work experience (approximately three years). During those three years, you will have to learn all the skills and knowledge necessary to become a successful cook, and the only way to do this is to learn from another chef.

The first thing you need to do is to find a chef, one who is a certified journeyman, who will take you as an apprentice. There are two places to go for: a restaurant and a hotel. Both have their pros and cons, but none better than the other.

Restaurant:

Pros
-smaller, means you have to learn to be organize and work well with others
-if you get into a nice restaurant, the quality of food is typically higher
-you will develop better cooking techniques and habits

Cons
-less pay
-less flexible schedule


Hotel:


Pros
-great pay
-more opportunity to move around and be exposed to various stations
-possibility for traveling

Cons
-you don't really learn how to cook, but how to mass produce food
-you're just another employee, dispensable

Working at a hotel might seem easier, but if your goal is to have your own restaurant and get 3 Michelin stars, then I believe starting at a restaurant will be better in the long run.

Once you have found a chef willing to offer you a job, you and the chef (your sponsor) must complete a registration form and submit it to the ITA.


To my knowledge, the relationship goes something like that

An apprenticeship is not all hands-on, however. A small portion of your training will be done at school, where you have to learn the theory part of cooking. Typically, you go to VCC (or other institutions offering technical training for an apprenticeship) for one month per year. If you have taken the ACE-IT program, then you have already completed the schooling for your first year, so technically, you can begin your second year. The other thing about this is that you don't have to wait one year between classes. You can take the schooling for all three years in a row, going to school for three consecutive months. However, you still have to complete the 5400 hours before you can become certified.

Once you become a registered apprentice, the chef owns you. Like, literally, he. owns. your. soul. You do whatever he asks of you. The only right answer is "Yes chef!" You may think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not, not by much anyway. Obviously, when you first start, you will be put in charge of the jobs that no one else will do. If you're in a small restaurant, this means washing dishes, cleaning, scrubbing, etc. If you're in a hotel, then most likely you will be peeling and trimming vegetables.

This is your first test. The chef is testing you to see whether you have to commitment and dedication. Just keep your head down, work hard, and always ask questions. Show the chef that you want to learn, and he will teach you. Yes, you will get yelled at, and yes, you will be in the shit, but keep at it.

After the three years of hell, you will have to write a final exam, administered by the ITA. If you successfully pass the exam, you will be awarded the Red Seal certification, meaning that you are a certified cook everywhere in Canada.
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CSOO7

Number of posts : 15
Age : 29
Year Graduated : 2007
Registration date : 2008-04-17

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