The Various Routes of Pursuing Your Career In The Food Trade

Pursuing your career in the food trade.
6 min reading time

Anyone with a deep passion for food will have considered what it would be like to run their own restaurant. To have a special place that people come to visit from miles around is not only an enjoyable idea but could potentially grant you a sense of autonomy and appreciation for the cuisine you’ve fallen in love with.

But of course, working in the restaurant industry is not only about having your place. For some it’s just employment, for others, it’s a means of getting out there and learning the most about different forms of cuisine and the skillful practice of that art.

No matter where on the spectrum you fall, a can-do attitude, a little knowledge about food, and the willingness to work hard can take you a long way. Moreover, you don’t have to gain three Michelin stars to be accomplished, simply working with and for people you love can be successful enough.

With that in mind, let’s consider the various routes of pursuing your career in the restaurant trade. These will only be the most popular options of course, as no list on this topic could be exhaustive. It can be delicious, however:

Gain Experience Through Entry-Level Positions

Starting from the very bottom and rising in prominence and capability is a positive and possible route, if you have the years to spare. You might even start as a kitchen porter and then slowly move onto sections in the kitchen once you prove your worth and discuss your desire to learn the brigade. 

You can also start as a section chef or chef de partie, starting at the weekend and pushing on further. In some cases, apprenticeships can be offered, such as butchers, fishmongers, or grocers who bring you closer to the best possible produce in the area. It’s helpful to make connections in the hospitality scene of your area. You’ll not only begin to learn the unique movements of your food scene, but you’ll be at the center of it.

Pursue Formal Education In Culinary Arts Or Hospitality Management

Of course, going the conventional route through the college system can be a helpful progression. Here they’ll tell you vital techniques like knife work, cooking various cuisines, how to conduct a service, and more. 

Now, this is in no way mandatory. Just as you can make a film without ever going to film school, you can run a restaurant or at least remain a vital part of one without ever getting a conventional qualification. It’s also true that even if you have qualifications, you won’t just waltz right into a head chef job, as many chefs are picked from the ranks coming up.

However, it’s hard to deny the skills such a program can lend you. Hospitality management can also serve as a parallel course that helps you learn how to run a business, its events, how to cater to people, and the dynamic flows of planning and organization that go into it. This might help you if you decide to go down another route, such as catering.

Network with Industry Professionals & Seek Mentorship

There was a time when a great many ambitious chefs would buy a plane ticket, head to a location like Paris, and learn cuisine from the masters. That might still take place, but of course, the trade of cooking has become much more widespread since then, with amazing restaurants in almost all cultures and cities across the globe.

Moreover, the chances to apply for a job in a lowly position, to network, and to be taken under the wing of an older experienced chef is possible. It might be that you prefer seafood in a given resort town, or you want to learn how to cook vegan food in the exploding scene in places like London and New York, or even more rural areas pushing forward local sustainability. Visiting these restaurants, getting a lay of the land, and putting in your professional application can make a massive difference.

Run A Catering Business

We’ve discussed catering above in part, but it’s good to expand on this topic a little. Opening up the chance to run your outfit will depend on foremost investment as a home business, and then sticking to a particular cuisine or type of food. Perhaps you serve corporate lunches, or you bring pig roasts for the ultimate barbecue food from place to place, such as local christening and outdoor wedding events.

From there you can focus on the logistics of managing your food business, perhaps investing in a few vans or opting for your delivery service. Just make sure to invest in appropriate fleet management techniques like fuel cards, rely on good drivers who know how to keep food sanctuary, and a car accident lawyer in case anything happens on the road. This can also be a good precursor to opening up your home kitchen, being verified and inspected, and selling from food delivery apps.

Consider Culinary Competitions

An underrated method of networking and becoming a presence in your local food scene is to enter cooking competitions. These might not necessarily be limited to cooking but could include growing vegetables that you show at an event in the summer, or baking competitions styled after certain television shows. Culinary competitions can be fun or serious, may be for the love of it or for a serious prize. 

Like writing competitions, food competitions can be a fantastic place to showcase and celebrate new talent, and having that to hand can help you learn so much more and put a feather in your cap even if you don’t win. Not only is this a delicious path forward, but it helps you meet people, test your skills, and potentially find more people to operate a better catering business with.

With this advice, you’re sure to pursue your career in the restaurant trade to the best of your potential, and possibly use a wide variety of methods for entering. While we can never be sure of our direct path, always taking advantage of opportunities will serve you well.

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