Taking the first steps on a career as a chef

If you are just about to embark on a career as a chef, you might not be entirely sure about the steps, and the salaries, that you can expect on your way to that first Michelin star and the BBC TV series.

The starting point for many an ambitious chef is a place in a kitchen as a commis chef, basically an underling doing preparation, cleaning and chopping for the artists above you. It's all part of the learning curve. The Chef Jobs website (chefjobs.co.uk) suggests that these kind of jobs start with a salary of £9,000 upwards (more if you are working in London).

A chef de partie or line chef has more responsibility, taking charge of a particular part of the kitchen, or a specific dish. These can attract higher salaries, around £14,000 - £20,000, but they are still the foot soldiers of the big restaurant kitchens.

A sous chef has more importance still, standing in for their superiors on occasion, and entrusted with preparing and cooking certain parts of the menu. In London average salaries for a sous chef range from £21,000 to £35,000 a year.

After serving your time and learned the trade you will be ready to become a chef de cuisine or an executive chef, choosing the menu, sourcing the produce, inventing a new culinary masterpiece. Salaries are negotiable at this stage, but a top London chef can earn more than £70,000.

As an alternative route into a career as a chef, you could look for a post in a small restaurant or bistro where you can be creative from the outset, and fast-track your way to the top. For these kinds of opportunities, check the listings at Gumtree (gumtree.com) which is particularly useful in small towns outside London.

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