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Our guide to Chef courses

So, you’ve been working in a kitchen for a while and you’ve got the culinary bug, but how do you take the leap from pot washer to Sous Chef? You may have already put your hand to prep, you’ll know a little about seasoning and you may have some experience of a busy service, but when it comes to honing your skills there’s still a lot to learn.


Training to be a chef can be as intense and exhilarating as taking part in Gordon Ramsay’s Hells Kitchen – so we’ve taken inspiration from Hells Kitchen to put you through your culinary paces and find out just what training as a chef will involve.


‘An extraordinary palate’

Gordon Ramsay is obsessed with natural tasting abilities, and for good reason. To be a good chef it’s imperative that you have a good palate. Tasting your food, understanding seasoning and developing amazing flavour combinations are all vital parts of working as a chef. We are born with more than 10,000 taste buds, but as we age the numbers diminish. Smoking, eating too much salt and certain medications can also take their toll on your palate, so make sure you’re making the most of your most valuable asset.


Dinner Service

Every episode of Hells Kitchen sees contestants tackle a busy dinner service. As a chef you’ll need to be able to work as a cohesive team and have top-notch communication skills. Although chef training will, of course, involve learning about food and technical skills, there will be a great emphasis on communication. Not only will you need to be a fabulous communicator, but you’ll need to learn how to deal with all the egos that you’ll find in a kitchen. Diplomacy and a big dollop of inner peace will get you a long way in a busy kitchen!


Punishment and rewards

Training as a chef isn’t easy, but with all the hardship will come great rewards. Not only will you learn about food, presentation, hygiene and sanitation, but you’ll also have the opportunity to master the art of wielding a kitchen knife with suitable aplomb – undeniably one of the most impressive parts of watching a chef at work.  Other skills you’ll need to master may include inventory management, rotas, budgeting, ordering and menu planning. Being a chef is so much more than just cooking, and the right course can ensure you’re completely prepared for a life in the kitchen.


Taste it then make it

Of course, being a chef does involve food, too. During your training you’ll be taught all the basic techniques you’ll need, as well as learning about fusion foods, perhaps the basics of French and Italian cuisine, flavour combinations and the importance of excellent seasoning. Menu planning will be a big part of your life as a chef, and understanding how to create inspirational and delicious dishes that complement each other is a really important skill to master.

During your chef training you may have the opportunity to develop your own signature dishes, build menus, fine-tune your palate and work with other students to brainstorm creative culinary ideas. Your tutor will be on-hand to offer expert advice, as well as help you hone your creative flair.


What’s next?

As well as completing your basic chef training, vocational experience in a real kitchen is vital if you want to make the culinary arts your career. If you haven’t already, you’ll be encouraged to find work in a kitchen - be it as a prep chef, sauté cook or Garçon de cuisine (quite literally ‘kitchen boy’). Once you have completed your training and have some experience under your belt, you can start looking for work - a kitchen often has many hands on deck, so there’s bound to be an area that particularly interests you. Talk to your tutor about what you like most, and they can help you to hone your skills in that particular area.


Test your knowledge

Q. In a kitchen, who is more senior - a Commis chef or a sous chef?

A: Sous


Q. If you cut a vegetable “julianne” style, how will it look?

Long, thin strips like matchsticks

Circular discs

Zig-zag edges

A: Long, thin strips like matchsticks


Q. What is a “paring” knife used for?

Rough chopping of vegetables

Intricate work

Filleting fish

A:  Intricate work


By Carrie Barclay

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Course reviews at this provider

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poor college
by john - December 2015

In level 2 professional chef diploma and the college is still in building work and no way finished when building work was to be finished before September 15 now in December 15. All the new kitchens aren't ready the all years have to use other kitchen. Having tutorial once a week is a waste of time as the chef doesn't know what room and time we should go in. Also people in level 2 should be in college but their work experience has been extended or ever placed in other sections to work there. Also paying for new locker when you get the old and rubbish blue lockers that are easy to open and have problems, paying £25 for what a old locker!! Also the changing rooms are small and locker rooms to fit 3 classes in one small room is really really bad!! So its like very hot and sweaty locker room. When this should be the best college it isn't. As well canteen needs to have more types of sandwiches and to produce food on time. and need to have better origination.

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Please note reviews of Professional Chef Diploma Level 1, 2 & 3 are the subjective opinions of Hotcourses members and not of Hotcourses Ltd.

Awarding organisations

  • Scottish Qualifications Authority
  • The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) is Scotland’s national awarding body, accrediting vocational courses and other awarding bodies that offer them. The Scottish Qualifications Authority is an organisation that has employed over 700 individuals within the UK. SQA work closely with various schools, colleges, and even companies to ensure they are providing high standards of qualifications. It also provides various awards to learners for encouragement, namely the employability awards, leadership awards, volunteering skills awards, steps to work awards, safe road user award, and personal finance awards.

  • Food and Drink Qualifications
  • FDQ is the leading specialist awarding organisation to the food industry. They have a portfolio packed with competence based, professional and learning focused qualifications covering the food supply chain – from agriculture to retail, manufacturing to hospitality and catering, and everything in between. They also offer cross functional qualifications such as food management, team leading, food safety and health and safety. Regulated by Ofqual; they have the power to develop and accredit qualifications across the whole food supply chain. FDQ has been in operation for more than 14 years as an awarding organisation.

  • City and Guilds of London Institute
  • One of the biggest names in vocational education in the UK, City & Guilds has close to two million learners working towards one of their qualifications in a number of different areas annually. City & Guilds offers qualifications, from entry level up to a postgraduate degree, that open up pathways to career progression. Qualifications are updated with expertise sought from various quarters - other awarding bodies, e-learning assessment experts and relevant Sector Skills Councils. City & Guilds designs qualifications that can be delivered by colleges, organisations or independent training providers.

Related careers: Chef

Chefs are responsible for the preparation and cooking of food, using a variety of cookery techniques. In large kitchens they are part of a cookery team responsible for one particular cookery section such as bread and pastries, or vegetables. A chef in training is usually known as a commis chef. Time is spent in each department, learning different cookery techniques. It is also part of the role of a commis chef to look after the kitchen equipment and utensils. The person in charge of a section of the kitchen is known as a chef de partie, or section chef, and is...more