A Guide to Knowing if a Chef Career is Right for You.

If you wonder whether a chef career suits you, read this article.

The culinary world is a dynamic and captivating field that entices individuals with a love for food, creativity and a passion for culinary arts.

However, before embarking on the journey to become a chef, it’s critical to carefully evaluate whether this profession aligns with your aspirations, interests and personal qualities.

From experience as a career counsellor and a son in culinary school, I know making the right career decision is a big life decision and needs careful consideration.

In this article, we will explore key considerations and self-reflection points to help you determine if a chef’s career path is right for you. An informal self-assessment is included to help you evaluate your suitability for a chef career.

A Guide to determine suitability for a chef.

Deciding if becoming a chef is right for you need introspection, self-assessment and careful consideration of the demands and rewards of the culinary profession.

Use the guide below to honestly assess yourself and determine if a chef career aligns with your aspirations, interests and personal qualities.

1. Assess your passion for food and cooking.

A chef should have a genuine passion for food and cooking or baking and pastry. A love for culinary arts is a driving force behind a successful chef.

An essential first step in deciding if a career as a chef is right for you is to evaluate your passion for food and cooking or pastry baking.

Ask yourself if you genuinely enjoy exploring flavours, experimenting with ingredients and creating culinary masterpieces.

Reflect on whether spending long hours in the kitchen, continuously learning about new ingredients and refining your culinary skills brings your joy and fulfilment.

2. Assess your need to find meaning in cooking for others.

The need for meaningful work through culinary arts is an important indicator of suitability for a chef career.

As a chef, you can create memorable culinary experiences for people, nourishing both body and soul. Preparing and presenting food is a deeply personal and artistic endeavour that can bring joy and satisfaction to those who partake in your creations.

If you find fulfilment in providing others with nourishment, delighting their taste buds and evoking emotions through food, a chef career may satisfy you. For many successful chefs, connecting with people through food and contributing to their well-being adds a sense of purpose and fulfilment.

Reflecting on whether you have an innate drive to make a positive impact through your culinary skills and if a culinary career can provide meaningful work for you.

3. Reflect on your work ethic and discipline.

The culinary industry demands a strong work ethic and discipline, essential qualities to succeed as a chef. A chef must be dedicated to and committed to their craft. The culinary industry often demands working long and irregular hours, working weekends, holidays and evenings.

Considering this, evaluate if you have the discipline to maintain focus, stay organised, and manage your time effectively to deliver consistent quality.

4. Consider your resilience to stress and change.

Becoming a chef requires dedication, resilience and the ability to thrive in a fast-paced and demanding environment. The culinary industry can be demanding, with extended hours, working in high-stress situations, working to meet tight deadlines and adapting to sudden changes.

Reflect on whether you are comfortable working under high pressure, can maintain your composure and positive attitude under stress and adapt to unexpected changes.

5. Consider the physical demands of the culinary industry.

The culinary profession can be physically demanding, requiring chefs to stand long hours, work on their feet in a hot environment, and handle heavy equipment.

Reflect on whether you have the physical health, stamina and resilience to withstand these demands.

6. Evaluate your creativity and innovation.

Chefs must possess a creative and innovative mindset expressed in their culinary art.

Consider if you have a natural inclination for thinking outside the box, experimenting with new flavours and creating visually appealing dishes.

Assess your ability to conceptualise unique menu dishes, embrace new cooking techniques, explore different cuisines and adapt to evolving culinary trends while maintaining a personal touch.

7. Assess your inclination to pay attention to detail.

Attention to detail is essential in determining whether you are suited to a chef career. As a chef, you create visually appealing and delectable dishes that meet high-quality standards.

Attention to detail involves precise measurements, careful plating and ensuring the balance of flavours and textures. It requires a keen eye for aesthetics and a commitment to perfection in presentation.

Beyond the visual aspect, attention to detail is vital in following recipes accurately, maintaining consistency in taste and adhering to personal and food safety and hygiene protocols.

Reflecting on your natural inclination towards meticulousness, your ability to notice subtle nuances, and your passion for achieving culinary excellence will help you assess if a chef career is right for you.

8. Assess your drive and ability to be a team player.

Being a chef entails working closely with a team of culinary professionals. Chefs should be team players, capable of working harmoniously with others and collaborating closely to achieve common goals, communicate clearly and listen effectively, respect team members, and value their contribution.

Evaluate your interpersonal skills, ability to collaborate, communicate effectively and thrive in a team-oriented environment.

9. Reflect on an inclination and willingness to lead others.

The more lucrative chef career opportunities lie in, the higher leadership ranks of the chef hierarchy. To advance your chef career in a commercial kitchen, you have to be willing to play a leadership role.

A chef in a leadership role must delegate tasks, ensure smooth kitchen operations, manage the business side of the kitchen and ensure profitability, handle administrative tasks, make quick decisions under pressure, motivate, inspire and mentor others and provide a healthy team atmosphere. Additionally, they are a role model for their team and must set high professional standards and ensure the ongoing professional development of staff.

Reflecting on your natural inclination towards leadership and willingness to develop and refine these skills will help determine if a chef career is right for you.

10. Assess your commitment to health and safety.

Working in a kitchen demands strong adherence to kitchen hygiene practices and a solid understanding of food safety protocols. As a chef, you will be responsible for your customers’ well-being and the kitchen’s overall cleanliness. It requires genuine discipline to maintain cleanliness and follow food handling procedures.

In addition, kitchens can be fast-paced, high-pressure environments where accidents can occur if proper safety measures are not followed. Prioritising safety not only protects yourself and others from injury.

For more information on how to care for and keep yourself safe from injuries and long-term health risks, please read our article on this topic.

A solid commitment to safety is essential for anyone considering a chef career. This commitment cultivates a culture of awareness of the potential hazards in a commercial kitchen and the responsibility to mitigate them.

Evaluate your commitment to consistently uphold kitchen hygiene and food safety practices and daily adherence to the recommended procedures to keep yourself and others safe in the kitchen.

11. Assess your attitude to continuous learning.

Culinary arts are ever-evolving. Chefs must be open to new techniques, ingredients and cooking styles. Seeking ongoing culinary education, attending workshops, and staying current on culinary trends is essential for growth as a chef.

Reflect on your drive for continuous learning, your thirst for knowledge and your commitment to ongoing training.

12. Reflect on your customer-focused mindset.

Chefs should be customer oriented, striving to create excellent food experiences.

Reflect on your customer mindset and whether you see yourself as customer-focused, willing to go the extra mile and exceed customer expectations and open to feedback from customers to improve service and create memorable customer experiences.

13. Evaluate your business mindset.

In addition to culinary skills, chefs must have a basic understanding of the industry’s business side. They should be aware of cost management, menu development and profitability.

Consider your ability to develop a business-oriented mindset to help you make informed decisions and contribute to the overall success of a food establishment.

14. Consider the financial realities.

Evaluate the financial aspects of a culinary career. Entry-level positions in the culinary industry often come with lower salaries, long hours and limited work-life balance.

However, as you progress and gain experience, opportunities for advancement and increased income potential arise.

Reflect on your financial goals and assess if the potential rewards align with your expectations and long-term plans.

15. Assess your willingness to start at entry-level.

Becoming an excellent chef takes years of experience. The culinary industry often requires chefs to begin their journey at entry-level positions and work their way up through hands-on continuous learning and experience.

This journey takes time but cements the chef’s culinary skills, and they master the intricacies of kitchen operation ad gain a solid understanding of the industry. Starting at the bottom requires humility, a strong work ethic, patience, resilience and passion to work your way.

Reflect on your determination to start from the ground up, embrace the learning process and gradually climb the ranks.

16. Reflect on your drive and flair for entrepreneurship.

Many chefs dream of owning their own restaurant or a culinary business. The culinary profession offers opportunities for entrepreneurship, allowing chefs to bring their culinary vision to life.

The potential to be an entrepreneur attracts many chefs to a culinary career.

Reflect on your drive and potential to be an entrepreneur and run your own restaurant or a culinary-related business.

17. Reflect on an early interest in food and cooking.

Reflect on your childhood history of food and cooking. Many great chefs say they showed an early interest in food and cooking.

In my work experience doing career counselling, I have often sat with adolescents and their parents, recounting early childhood memories of what naturally interested kids and what they showed a natural aptitude for doing or could spend hours doing. Such information provides invaluable guidance towards assisting in the most suitable career choice.

Reflect on whether you have always shown a keen interest in food, experimented with recipes, helped out in the kitchen from an early, showed a natural curiosity to experiment with recipes and flavours or often engaged in culinary play. Early indicators can highlight a natural inclination towards a culinary career.

A natural passion for food and cooking is often a strong indicator of future success as a chef.

18. Seek industry exposure and experience.

Before becoming a chef seek exposure and hands-on experience within the culinary industry.

Consider working in a professional kitchen, volunteering, or interning to gain a realistic understanding of the day-to-day challenges and rewards.

This experience will provide valuable insight into the industry, allowing you to make a more informed decision about a career as a chef.

A Career self-assessment: Is a chef career right for you?

Complete the self-assessment below. This informal assessment is not definitive but serves as a starting point for self-reflection and consideration.

It is essential to research, gain practical exposure to the industry, speak to experienced chefs, and, if needed, have a formal career assessment done to make a well-informed decision about a career path as a chef.


Read each statement below and rate your agreement on a scale of 1 to 5, with one being strongly disagree and five being strongly agree. Be honest and reflect on your own interests, qualities and aspirations.

At the end of the assessment, calculate your total score and refer to the interpretation guide to reflect if a chef’s career fits you. Remember, this is an informal, unvalidated assessment and serves as a guide only.

  1. I have a deep passion for food and cooking.
  2. I enjoy experimenting with flavours, ingredients and creating new dishes.
  3. I am comfortable working in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment.
  4. I have good physical stamina and can handle long hours on my feet.
  5. I am naturally creative and enjoy expressing my ideas through food.
  6. I am detail-oriented and pay attention to presentation and plating.
  7. I enjoy continuously learning about different cuisines and cooking techniques.
  8. I am willing to work irregular hours, including evenings, weekends and holidays.
  9. I work well in a team and enjoy collaborating with others.
  10. I have strong communication skills and can lead and inspire a team effectively.
  11. I am disciplined and can handle repetitive tasks with focus and precision.
  12. I am open to feedback and willing to improve my culinary skills continuously.
  13. I can handle the financial realities of starting at a lower salary and working my way up.
  14. I am willing to invest time and effort in gaining culinary education and experience.
  15. I am passionate about providing memorable dining experiences for others.

Interpretation guide:

60-75: A chef career is likely an excellent fit for you. Your passion, creativity and dedication make you well-suited for the culinary world.

45-59: You have the potential for a chef career, but some areas may require further consideration and development. Reflect on the statements where you scored lower and assess your willingness to work on those aspects.

30-44: While you may have some interest in the culinary field, other career paths may align more closely with your strengths and preferences. Consider exploring other options that better match your aspirations.

Below 30: A chef career may not be the best fit for you based on your current interests, qualities and aspirations. Exploring alternative career paths that align more closely with your strengths and passions may be beneficial.

In conclusion, before becoming a chef, consider the guidelines in this article and the self-assessment outcomes. Although not conclusive, it may indicate your suitability for the chef role.

Recent Posts