top of page

How to become a chef instructor

Food industry is filled with a huge number of skilled chefs, that’s a fact that no one can deny.

But despite this huge number of skilled chefs available, teaching entities still find it hard to find or recruit chefs to teach their students.

In order for a chef to be an instructor He/She must have a solid culinary experience in all hospitality aspects, as restaurants, hotels etc..

Chef Brandon Harpster, Chef-Instructor and Program Chair of the Foodservice and Hospitality program at Southeast Community College in Lincoln, Nebraska, says that in order to be a chef instructor you have to obtain at least 10 years of culinary experience.

But why is it to be an instructor, you need this number of years accumulated experience?

Chef as a career is all about solid knowledge that comes from practicing, and as a career it takes a lot of work to know the real secrets that makes everything works in order, it’s not just some cool knife skills it’s a knowledge of every small component how it works and how they affect each other.

And to gain this knowledge you got to work in different areas of hospitality and advance within them.

And this takes a lot of time of course, so 10 years aren’t that long it is just about enough to gain such experience.

To be a chef instructor does not just require culinary skills, it also requires a very good communication skills and patience.

You also have to understand what is expected from you as a chef instructor, you have to understand that you need to transfer your solid knowledge to the students who will be chefs in the future, and it’s a totally different role from the roles that you as a chef used to handle before, you are now not expected to serve a quality standard within a specific time frame, or manage a group of experienced chefs within an operating kitchen.

You have to step by step guide unexperienced candidates, you have to expect nothing from them except their passion to learn.

Usually in your previous roles as kitchen manager, head of chefs or an executive chef you give specific tasks and expect them to be conducted, you only interfere when there’s a major issue that requires your skill, your main job was to remove obstacles of the team’s you’re working with way.

On the other hand when you are an instructor you not only do the tasks yourself, but also you have to explain to others how it’s being done, and afterwards you oversee their performance and micro help each one of them to solve their issues, and to not repeat any mistake.

This means that the solid knowledge that you as a chef obtain over the years has to be combined with a deep understanding of how everything works, why and what to do if it didn’t.

And this means you do have to learn scientifically how cooking works, as the on job experience might teach you how to prepare a recipe, but it will not teach you how each ingredient makes a difference, and how to make this recipe evolve into a new thing, what you might add, what if removed will take the soul of the recipe away.

So trying to earn a certificate in culinary is very important.

Some chefs do work from a young age, and don’t complete any further education regarding culinary, this is not an issue as simply you just need to start enrolling in a learning program that will teach you the cooking science.

Something as the cooking school culinary diplomas for example as it includes teaching cooking science.

The last important thig you must have as an instructor is the personal traits of patience, understanding, and communication as when these are combined with a strong culinary background both academic and on ground, it creates a good instructor.