If you love food and the culinary arts, but don't think that you'd thrive in a commercial kitchen atmosphere, becoming a chef consultant may be the perfect career for you. If you've already been putting in your time in a restaurant and are looking for your next adventure, then you could be in the perfect position to realign your career goals and try consulting. Here's everything that you need to know:
WHAT DOES A CHEF CONSULTANT DO?
A chef consultant is a consultant with chef experience — that is, it's
someone who offers their expertise to a range of food service professionals, to help them perfect their products. This can even involve helping new restaurants refine their kitchen designs for maximum efficiency, training staff, and designing menus.
Rather than working for a single restaurant as a chef, a chef consultant helps multiple different enterprises develop or refine ideas from a chef's perspective. It's a great job for anyone who likes unique challenges, and an environment where every day is different.
WHO HIRES CHEF CONSULTANTS?
Anyone in the culinary industry who has decision-making power can benefit from the help of a chef consultant. For restaurant owners looking to design a new venue, chef consultants can help them refine or design menus, set up kitchens, and train new cooks.
For older restaurants looking for a revamp, chef consultants can offer input on menu items, re-designs, business plans, or cost analysis. For event venues, universities, hospitals, hotels, resorts, or anywhere else with a commercial kitchen, chef consultants can help them succeed within their specific niche.
With their experience as chefs, chef consultants are in the perfect position to offer input on measures that can help make kitchens more ergonomic, more efficient, and less accident-prone. They're also great for helping inexperienced cooks gain confidence and skill.
WHAT QUALIFICATIONS DO CHEF CONSULTANTS NEED?
To become a chef consultant, one must first be a chef. Most start out with a culinary arts degree, or other culinary training. After that comes several years of experience in a kitchen, working up from line cook to sous chef. At this point, it's often beneficial to seek a few years of specialty experience — as a pastry chef, for example, or working specifically with a certain region's cuisine.
WHAT KIND OF SALARY CAN CHEF CONSULTANTS MAKE?
A chef consultant's salary may vary widely. In general, it averages to about $60,000 per year but can range from about $55,000 to 75,000. Chef consultants with a lot of experience, certifications, and additional skills can command higher salaries, while those with less experience or education may earn the lower end of the range.
TIPS FOR FUTURE CHEF CONSULTANTS
Does being a chef consultant sound appealing? Here are some tips to help you start your new career:
1. FORMALIZE YOUR EXPERIENCE.
You might know everything there is to know about the culinary arts, but it can be tough to prove. You can make things much easier on yourself by formalizing your education and experience — if there's a degree, certification, or another official piece of paper that you can pick up that's related to your career, do it. It'll help you a lot when it comes to making a good first impression on your potential clients.
2. HAVE A RANGE OF SKILLS.
The more range you have, the better. Work on a variety of culinary techniques and traditions, so you can demonstrate versatility to prospective clients. It'll open more opportunities for you since you'll be more likely to have the skillset that a client is looking for.
3. LOOK BEYOND RESTAURANTS.
When most people hear the word "chef," they think of restaurants. In reality, a chef consultant's experience can be useful in all kinds of settings — from hotels to country clubs, to universities. You may even find yourself in demand for event venues or catering operations. Market yourself to more than just would-be restauranteurs, and you'll have a much longer list of potential clients.
4. MAINTAIN STRONG CONNECTIONS.
As a chef consultant, you'll be one of the liaisons between suppliers and customers. Today's clientele is very conscious about where their food comes from, and shows a preference for food that's local, sustainably produced, and falls in line with their ethics.
Network with growers and suppliers who offer quality ingredients, and you'll be in a position to help your clients source the best meats, fish, and produce for their kitchens. With supply chain difficulties all around the world, having a robust roster of local suppliers is more important than ever!
5. SHARPEN YOUR ORGANIZATIONAL AND PEOPLE SKILLS.
A chef consultant is a teacher. While you won't have to explain the basics to your clients, you still need to be able to present your ideas and experience in a sensible, organized, and effective way. You'll need to have good communication and organizational skills, in addition to all of your culinary expertise. After all, all of the culinary education and experience in the world won't be helpful if you can't share it with your clients in a way that they'll understand.
ChefVue is a unique service that relies heavily on the experience of chef consultants. Their chef consultants collaborate with designers and restaurant owners in real-time, in order to help bring restauranteurs' visions to life in a way that maximizes the efficiency, safety, and comfort of their kitchens.