Last updated January 01, 2015

If your vision of a chef is someone in a puffy white hat who races around the kitchen making sure each order is filled, you’re only partly right. True, a chef’s job revolves around creating meals that taste and look great. But there are all kinds of chefs: while cuisine, sous (assistant), and pastry chefs take care of the cooking, executive chefs spend most of their time planning menus and supervising others.

The hours are long, and the stress runs high, but if the idea of choosing between paprika and red pepper flakes makes your pulse race, this career may be just your cup of tea.

Chefs plan menus and create meals in a variety of settings, from cafeterias to upscale restaurants. There are many levels of chefs, from prep chefs to executive.

Did You Know?

If you want a nine-to-five gig, this isn’t for you: chefs often work weekends, holidays, and late nights.

Are You Ready To...?

  • Plan menus
  • Supervise the kitchen staff
  • Hustle to fill orders
  • Cater to fussy customers
  • Work long hours in a hot kitchen

It Helps To Be...

Passionate about food and full of energy: the hours are long and the demands are high. A keen sense of taste and smell will help, too.

Make High School Count

  • Sign up for cooking and nutrition classes: the sooner you learn the basics, the better.
  • Pay attention in chemistry class where you’ll learn about the makeup of different foods and the link between chemistry and nutrition.
  • Take business classes. Some chefs take on managerial tasks, such as budgeting and staffing. And you might end up with your own restaurant someday.
  • Get an after-school job at a restaurant and find out if the fast pace of the kitchen is for you.

Did You Know?

Many chefs wear more than one hat, hiring the staff, balancing the books, and even doing a little public relations.