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Career focus: Cookery

It?s about getting the raw material in order and adding some spice to it. Lo and behold! Here?s your career served on a platter.
None | By Susmita Mukherjee, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 28, 2006 10:49 AM IST

It’s about getting the raw material in order and adding some spice to it. Lo and behold! Here’s your career served on a platter. Sounds delicious?
And if you thought being a chef is all about being confined to the hotel or restaurant kitchens, think again. With the explosion of cookery shows on the telly, chefs today are all about thinking out of the frying pan.

What you need
There are some basic requirements for being a good chef. To start with, you need to have a good aptitude for cooking. Cooking can be a strenuous job involving long working hours and an over-emphasis on details. You can get away with a minor mistake in evolving a business strategy but even a minor miscalculation in the amount of salt you put can end up in a well-cooked disaster!

Take celebrity chef Sanjeev Kapoor’s word for it. “Cookery is not just an art, it also has its own science and management to it.” So after you enroll yourself for a cookery course from a reputed hotel management institute, “you need to focus more on the cooking than the other avenues.”
The management of cooking involves various aspects, except your culinary skills. “You need to know the laws on the various ingredients you use, their cost, their source and everything else related to them,” he adds.

As you gain from your experiences and from on-hand training during the courses, you should have the ability to experiment and come up with original recipes. Once you are through your course, you have a variety of options to work with, starting from restaurants and hotels to cruises and airplanes and even schools and corporate bodies. In short, everybody who needs food.

You should be focused about your area of specialisation. Essentially, there are three areas of specialisation which you, as a chef, can take up — Cold Kitchen, Hot Kitchen, Bakery & Confectionery. The Cold Kitchen consists of salads, cold meat, butter sculpture, vegetables and fruit carvings done with hand, etc. Hot Kitchen areas include gravy, tandoori, roasting, grilling and a variety of sauce. Pastries and cookies come under Bakery and Confectionery.

Armed with your degree in cookery, you could go places. Take a cue from Sanjeev Kapoor and host your own show and launch your restaurant. It all depends on your aptitude to turn passion into serious business.

As a trainee you can bag a monthly salary of Rs 7,000 to Rs 10,000. Depending on your aptitude, the number varies from Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000 after two years. You could be an executive chef and earn anything between Rs 75,000 to Rs 1,00,000.

A word of advice from Sanjeev Kapoor, “Keep your eyes and ears open for better recipes and ideas,” he says. “Don’t try to follow the lead, instead cook up something that will make others look upto you.”

Getting the right mix
The following institutes offer courses in cooking:
• National Council for Hotel Management and Catering Technology, New Delhi
• The Welcome Group Graduate School of Hotel Administration, Manipal
• The Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development, Delhi
• Hotel Management and Catering, Dehradun & Almora
• The Oriental School of Hotel Management, Delhi
• The Indian Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad

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