Donning the chef's hat

Donning the chef's hat

Love for food is a common thread that binds the entire world together. Be it a simple dish of pasta or a dish of chicken tikka, we love to indulge our taste buds in exciting and new flavours


When we are livingin this age of the food, pursuing a career as a chef will definitely be very satisfying. Cooking is not just science. It is an art and also a craft. It is all about understanding the ingredients, techniques, flavours and nutrition. If you are a food lover and have a passion for cooking, then becoming a chef is the best option for you.
A chef is like an artist who makes any dish appealing, colourful and tasty. He is like a musician playing his notes and also a scientist, who works methodically to create something unique. A chef is also a multitasker. He has to juggle between the creative, functional and financial aspects of cooking.But cooking up a meal is not enough. Today, consumers eat with their eyes. Presentation is all the more necessary. Its marketing also has a major impact on the sales. Like the famous celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck puts it, “A good chef has to be a manager, a businessman and a great cook,” a chef has to be prepared for anything that comes his way.

Current statistics
The huge spurt of growth in the hospitality industries, both in India and abroad has created a major demand for quality chefs. Hotels and restaurants are always on the lookout for chefs who are creative, artistic and practical. Take a look at the statistics for a real picture. The Indian food services market, organised and unorganised, was estimated at Rs. 2,47,680 crore in 2013 and is projected to grow to Rs. 4,08,040 by 2018 at a CAGR of 11 percent. Within this, the unorganised market holds a 70 percent share with an estimated market size of Rs. 1,72,685 crore. The organised market (chain and licensed standalone outlets) was estimated at Rs 67,005 crore in 2013 and is projected to grow at a CAGR of 16 percent to reach Rs. 1,45,770 crore by 2018.

Even the hospitality sector is showing great leaps. According to Ministry of Tourism, India had over 2,00,000 rooms in the hotel and guest house categories in 2013. In view of the estimated growth in foreign tourist arrivals, an additional 1,00,000 hotel rooms will be required by 2020. Consequently, international hotel chains have major plans to expand their brands in India. As a result, manpower requirements of the hotel industry will increase from the 15 million in 2010 to 37 million by 2020. This development will lead to a marked increase in employment opportunities for chefs.

Need for more
Since the hospitality industry is highly labour-intensive, there is a dire need for trained chefs, managerial staff and other support staff. According to a study by the Ministry of Tourism, the current supply of skilled trained manpower is estimated to be nine percent of the total manpower requirement. Given this shortfall of quality manpower and high attrition rate of 20-25 percent, the cost of labour is high. To bridge the demand-supply gap, players are currently hiring in huge numbers and increasingly investing in in-house training programmes.

Apart from the in-house programmes, many culinary schools have cropped up to train amateur cooks. Culinary schools offer courses to acquaint novice chefs with the basic skills but the real training begins after schooling as only hands-on experience teaches them the skills of the profession. Presently, there are 29 institutes of hotel management and five food craft institutes run with support from the Ministry of Tourism. There are also a large number of institutes in the private sector and others run by hotel companies. A one-year training programme at a catering college provides the skills needed for creating bakers and tandoori chefs.

A new entrant to a hotel or restaurant, as commis (junior chef) 1, gets about Rs. 10,000-15,000 per month. Depending on his skills in creating dishes, his income can go up to Rs. 50,000-60,000. An executive chef’s salary can be between Rs.1-2 lakh while a corporate chef’s salary can range from Rs. 8-10 lakh per month. Foreign chefs are being paid Rs. 8-10 lakh for their expertise in the kitchen.

If you have an inherent passion for cooking, take up on the exciting career of a chef.

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