Is chef school not quite for you? Are you looking for an alternative way to enter the cheffing industry? Perhaps you’d like to earn while you learn (if you want to do this and attend a culinary school, look no further than Hurst Campus, where you earn while you learn), or even enter the culinary industry in a learning environment after having studied a culinary diploma? If any of the above ring true, then you might be well suited to a Chef Apprenticeships. Chef’s apprenticeships are a centuries-old route to entering the culinary industry. It basically means getting whatever work you can in a kitchen.

Count on working long, hard hours on your feet as a kitchen underling, but take heart that the sous and executive chefs will be right there beside you. Once you get a job prepping vegetables and cleaning up, pay attention to the chefs around you without getting in the way. Chefs are notoriously cranky and the last thing you want is to be a nuisance. You can’t force mentorship, but you can look out for a potential mentor and ingratiate yourself.

Why an Apprenticeship?

Do you like the idea of getting paid while you learn? A chef apprenticeship program is a great way for blooming chefs to make some money while earning their culinary education. It’s also an option for students who are already enrolled in a program, and need to pay off their student debts.

An apprenticeship generally takes one to three years to complete. At the end of the program, apprentices will work in a kitchen under the supervision of a professional chef.

Professional Cookery Apprenticeship

A basic chef apprenticeship program could have a food preparation or pastry focus, depending on where you complete your apprenticeship. Chef apprentices will learn the basics of sanitation, dining room service, and food processing, as well as how to work with different temperatures. They will also learn how to prepare meat and pasta dishes for a large group of people.

Food Preparation Apprenticeship

This apprenticeship program has more of a focus on the different types of food handling techniques. Apprentices will learn how to prepare various types of meats, soups, sauces, pastries, vegetables, and dough products. Some programs may include buffet and menu planning, as well as mathematics.

Baking and Pastry Apprenticeship

Students of this apprenticeship program will learn how to prepare muffins, donuts, breads, pies, tarts, cookies, cakes, rolls, and frozen desserts. Students will also learn about temperatures and ingredients, as well as how to use the different types of kitchen equipment.

Chef Youth Apprenticeship

This program is designed for eleventh and twelfth-grade high school students. Students will learn the basics of food handling, safety, nutrition, and sanitation. Students may also learn about plate presentation, food preparation, and cutting techniques.
Hospitality and Catering Apprenticeship

Apprentices of this program will learn how to prepare meals and buffets for different types of events. While working for a catering company, students will also learn various safety and sanitation methods, as well as how to provide excellent customer service.

Food and Drink Service Apprenticeship

After completing this apprenticeship, students will learn how to prepare soft drinks, coffees, cappuccinos, and various types of alcoholic beverages. Some apprentices may learn how to train other members of staff, while others learn how to prepare cellars or kegs. Through their work experience, students may even learn how to create new drinks by combining different ingredients and beverages.

Butchery and Meat Processing Apprenticeship

Butcher apprentices will learn about food safety standards as well as various cutting and meat preparation techniques. Students will be able to identify and prepare different types of meat and poultry, while practicing their hand-eye coordination in a kitchen. Some basic first aid may also be included.

It usually involves starting at the bottom (which is usually guaranteed even if you have a diploma) but it’s a practical way to enter the industry. Don’t be deterred however, the idea is to work your way up through the ranks while learning on the job. Some people would even argue that 4 years spent in a practical, salary earning environment is actually better than a diploma, which you have to pay to attain. At school, you may learn the theory behind making a perfect soufflé, but in the industry, you’ll make several hundred per week, for paying customers no less (which is also offered at our Chef School, where students cook daily in our paarl restaurant).

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