DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO BE A MICHELIN STAR CHEF?
Every culture is manifested in the type of food and ingredients that are typical of the region or community. Today, chefs like Gaggan Anand, Vikas Khanna and Sanjeev Kapoor are all household names, with the fame and popularity that rivals those of cricketers and even, film stars. Even in the West, the names Nigella Lawson, Emeril, Bobby Flay are all master epicures as well as Master Chefs in their own right.
Being a Chef needs the person to have a balance of creativity and the scientific precision of a researcher to draw the exact taste on the palate as can be. Chef Vikas Khanna is an alumnus of the Welcome Group School of Hotel Administration, Manipal, as is Chef Kunal Kapoor, both of whom have popularised the MasterChef India series. However, few know that to gain exposure to European and Western cuisine, Chef Khanna has also taken courses at Cornell University, Culinary Institute of America, and New York University. Little wonder then that his name is now eponymous with the ten greatest Chefs of all time like Julia Child, Jamie Oliver, Clemens Wilmenrod, Massimo Bottura and David Chang.
In addition to America’s gastronomic inventions, Old-school Europe has always had its delights of fresh food, wine and epicurean fantasies that aspiring chefs the world over dream to master. Le Cordon Bleu, incepted in 1895, now offers a network of 50 schools on five continents enrolling 20,000 students annually. Each school offers its own list of culinary short courses and demonstrations; with fees ranging from EU 199 to above EU 18,000, depending on the course. To be accepted to Le Cordon Blue, one must be over 18 years of age, should have completed 12th grade or High School Diploma and may also provide prior culinary experience. For more details, please visit the site, https://www.cordonbleu.edu/paris/how-to-apply/en. These admission requirements are for the undergraduate program and echo across every culinary school in all continents.
For the graduate program, the student must gain apprenticeship with renowned chefs, restaurants, where fine dine cuisine and varied cooking styles may be imbibed. Along with this, each school mandates the criteria for having completed a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality/Culinary Arts or an equivalent degree. The candidate must also have excellent credentials and range imbibed through practical training and may have to give a demonstration to the panel, to qualify for a seat with reputed institutes like the Louisiana Culinary School, Culinary Institute of America, Sorbonne Institute of Culinary Arts, among others.
The term ‘Chef’ before a name qualifies an individual to be distinguished for his skill in presenting epicurean delights implementing his knowledge of sensory and visual stimulants in the use of ingredients and cooking methods. With the proliferation of media and news, the number of food based content have dominated the market, with internet upping the ante. Most Chefs across the globe have their own signature show on primetime slots as well as their own signature restaurants, a la Sanjeev Kapoor, Julia Child, Vikas Khanna, among others. Fame, popularity and not to mention, excellent remuneration go hand in hand for those masters of the kitchen, who have perfected both style, method and presentation.
Top dollar Executive Chef jobs are limited, but leading positions are available at fine-dining restaurants, and in domestic and international resorts and hotels. The average salary for an Executive Chef could well be upwards of $130, 000, depending on the property he serves. The salaries for head chefs are between $50,000 and $100,000, closely followed by Assistant Chefs, Sous Chefs and others. With top dollar remuneration, the freedom to build a brand lies in the skill of the individual who chooses this eclectic and exciting profession to become a Master in the Culinary Arts. You could work at a fine restaurant or even seed your own restaurant under your very own signature brand, like the Australian legend, Gordon Ramsey. The call to be a Chef is a vocation, where along with titillating their taste buds, you also find a home in people’s hearts and memories, with meal-times becoming occasions for people to get together and bond with each other.