Recipe for success

The lowdown

The executive chef heads kitchen team and cooking and related activities in a catering outlet, restaurant/s, hotel or in a chain. He/she is responsible for the food quality and presentation as well. Also, an executive chef is involved in management work, including business development, financial planning, tracking and keeping abreast of industry developments and trends, as well as designing menus. Since cookery shows on TV are gaining popularity these days, there’s no dearth of jobs for good chefs. An aspirant must have good management skills as you will be incharge of a diverse team. Knowledge of wines and spirits, cooking skills not just in Indian cuisines but also international ones is very important.

8am: Arrive at work. Check emails/important follow ups. Take a detailed round of all kitchens
8.30am: Check breakfast, the most important meal of the day
10.30am: Meet the general manager. Give update about the previous day and plans for the day
11am: Reply to emails. Follow up on administrative work
Noon to 3pm: Supervise lunchtime kitchen operations
3pm to 3.30pm: Lunch
3.30pm to 4pm: Hold a meeting with the chef team
4pm to 6pm: Work on menus
6pm to 7pm: Hit the gym
7pm to 9pm: Supervise kitchen operations for dinner. Leave for the day

The payoff
An executive chef earns around Rs. 1 lakh to Rs. 3 lakh a month. A kitchen management trainee makes about Rs. 15,000 to Rs. 20,000 a month. A sous chef in a leading hotel can draw Rs. 30,000 to Rs. 70,000 a month

* Good customer service skills
* Ability to lead and manage a diverse group of people
* One should also be creative and have a keen sense of smell and taste
* Should maintain good personal hygiene

Getting there
There are three routes to become a chef and ultimately an executive chef. The best hospitality management graduates are lapped up by big hotels for kitchen management trainee (KMT) programmes, which last for a minimum of two years. After KMT programme, you become a chef de partie, then junior sous chef, sous chef, executive sous chef and executive chef. The second route is kitchen operations training (KOT), one year long. After KOT, you become a demi chef (means half chef), then chef de partie, senior chef de partie, junior sous chef and further on. The other way is to start as a commis, or cook after which you become a demi chef de partie and so on. Else, without a hospitality degree (that is, after Class 12), you could begin as an apprentice, move up as commis and so on

Institutes and URLs
* National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology, New Delhi
* Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology & Applied Nutrition, Mumbai

Pros and cons
* One gets to experience the best in food and wines of the world
* You earn both money and fame
* A high pressure job, you need to prove oneself day in, day out
* Family life takes a backseat

It is a dynamic industry that is fast evolving, prospects are many, both on the domestic and international fronts -- Ashish Shome, executive chef, Hyatt Regency, Mumbai


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