How To Become A Chef In Australia: A Complete Guide

Students are asking how to become a chef in Australia and what qualifications are needed.


Do you enjoy the clattering sound of a bustling kitchen? Do you close your eyes when you smell a delicious roast cooking in the oven? Do you feel the excitement and joy when cooking for your friends and family? And above all, are you a big-time food lover?

If yes, then becoming a world-class chef is the best career choice for you! What's more, guess what? You will find no country better than Australia to pursue this field and get the best education, training, and learning experience.

Multicultural influences in Australia have resulted in a rich culinary culture. The high-quality ingredients available in the market, including high industry standards, have always set Australian chefs apart from their counterparts.

Having a career as a chef can open a lot of opportunities for you. As Australia's hospitality industry is continuously expanding, job possibilities in this profession are many and may help you achieve great heights.

You might have plenty of questions regarding how to become a chef in Australia, including the education pathway and skills required to become an Australian chef. In this article, we will do our best to answer all your queries, so keep reading.



1. What Does a Chef Do?


A chef is in charge of food preparation and cooking, as well as providing direction to the kitchen staff. Chefs are responsible for ordering the restaurant's weekly food supply and maintaining relationships with vendors.


They may come up with new menu items and collaborate with the general manager to establish business objectives.



2. Major Duties and Tasks of a Chef


  • Plan menus and determine labour and food costs.

  • Order food, equipment, and kitchen supplies. 

  • Prepare, cook, freeze, and preserve food.

  • Recruit and train staff.

  • Demonstrate different techniques to cooks and offer advice on cooking procedures.

  • Explain and enforce hygiene regulations.

  • Discuss food preparation issues with dietitians, managers, and other staff members.

  • Plan staff schedules and oversee the work of cooks and assistants.

  • Monitoring food quality at all stages of preparation and presentation.


3. Steps to Become a Chef in Australia


So you have chosen to pursue a career as a chef, but you are not sure where to begin. All you need to know is that you have a culinary dream and want to make it a reality!


Follow the steps below to get a basic idea of how to become a chef in Australia:


Step 1. Gain some work experience working in a kitchen


If you are aspiring to become a chef, the first thing you need to do is get yourself into a kitchen immediately. You must do this to ensure that you are entering this profession for all the right reasons.


Initially, you can work as a waiter, dishwasher, or cook. No matter what you do, the goal is to get the essence and taste of working in the kitchen and knowing whether it is the right job for you or not.


So, before you go all-in on becoming a chef, gain work experience as a kitchen hand or take up any other role to get a feel of the industry. Always keep in mind, cooking for a living and just cooking for fun are two different things.


Working for the hospitality industry entails long work hours, including working on most weekends and even holidays. Therefore, you need to be prepared for how this can affect your work-life balance.



Step 2: Apply for an apprenticeship with a private college or TAFE institute


If you are wondering what qualifications do I need to be a chef in Australia? Technically, there are no specific qualifications required to work as a chef in Australia.


However, being a trade-driven profession, it is common for chefs to successfully complete an apprenticeship and get a vocational degree, like a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery (SIT30813) or higher, towards the end of their training.


Depending on the type of chef you want to be, there are different apprenticeship opportunities and chef courses in Australia that you can undertake:


  • Pastry chef – Certificate III in Patisserie (SIT31016)

  • Pastry chef – Certificate IV in Patisserie (SIT40716)

  • Cook – Certificate III in Commercial Cookery (SIT30813)

  • Chef – Certificate IV in Commercial Cookery (SIT40516)

  • Baker – Certificate III in Retail Baking (Bread) (FDF30610)

  • Catering operations – Certificate IV in Hospitality (SIT40416)

  • Diploma of Hospitality Management (SIT50416)

  • Advanced Diploma of Hospitality Management (SIT60316)

  • Bachelor of Tourism and Hospitality Management

  • Associate Degree of Hospitality Management

You need to obtain your Year 10 School Certificate in order to begin your apprenticeship. As the criteria for various states and territories may vary, check with your local TAFE or career counsellor.


Specialised culinary schools and universities are other options for obtaining cooking qualifications. Many Australian institutes are well-known in the culinary arts industry and have fantastic campuses to help you learn.


Similar to chef apprenticeship TAFE courses, culinary institutions demand a combination of classwork and practical industry placement. The fees and admission requirements for chef courses in Australia may differ, so do proper research before choosing the course.


Step 3: Work as a chef apprentice while pursuing your qualification


In Australia, completing your training and transitioning from apprentice to a qualified chef takes about three years. Generally, this training consists of working at a restaurant (four days a week) and attending classes at TAFE or college (one day a week).


Most apprentice chefs complete their full three-year apprenticeship at the same restaurant. However, moving from one restaurant to another is common to work in diverse conditions and get exposed to different cuisines, culinary methods, and flavour profiles.


As an apprentice chef, you will be assigned a number of tasks, including:


  • Assisting with menu planning

  • Food preparation and cooking

  • Garnishing and plating

  • Cleaning

  • Ordering food supplies and equipment.


All in all, you will learn a lot as an apprentice, so be prepared to assist in all areas of the kitchen.



Step 4. Obtain your qualification and specialise


When you complete three years as an apprentice, you will graduate with a nationally recognised diploma or chef certificate in Australia and be able to work as a certified professional chef.


It is entirely up to you to decide where you want to take your career next. You might want to gain specialisation in Asian cuisine and master the art of pulled noodles or learn about the future of sustainability. Whatever it is that you want to learn, an apprenticeship provides you with an opportunity to improve your skills.


Step 5: Look for a job as a chef

After you have graduated, you can either continue at the restaurant where you were training or look for work somewhere else. If you intend to pursue a career as a chef and work elsewhere, you might want to consider the following:


  • Find a job in the kitchen that is a good fit for your professional objectives.

  • Draft a cover letter and a resume that showcases your expertise and skills as a chef. 

  • Attend interviews and make a good impression on the executive or head chef. 


You will be relieved to know that Australia is presently facing a severe chef shortage, which should make your job hunting process a bit easier.

As per a 2015 study done on behalf of Austrade by Deloitte Access Economics, more than 38,000 chefs would be required in Australia between 2015 and 2020, indicating that your career prospects as a chef are still bright.


Additionally, a variety of other settings and workplaces need chefs, so do not limit yourself and look for work in any café or restaurant. From boarding schools and hospitals to hotels and even research and development, chefs are needed everywhere — both in private and public sectors.


Step 6. Work your way up to the top

Your real job begins now! Just like any other profession, being a chef requires you to put in all the effort and work your way up to the top from station line cook or station chef to sous chef, head chef, and finally becoming an executive chef.


While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a chef, you can follow the steps below to become a successful chef:


  • Keep up with the most recent food trends.

  • Find a chef you admire and trust to be your mentor.

  • Train with different types of chefs in different kitchens.

  • Experiment with various culinary ingredients, techniques, and cooking styles.

  • Train with a variety of chefs in a variety of kitchens.

  • Travel around the world and draw inspiration from everything you see.

  • Discover unique flavour profiles from all around the globe.



4. How to Become a Chef at Home?


If you do not have enough time or budget to join a culinary school, do not worry! Imagination can help you get out of even the most difficult situations. Use whatever resources you have and attempt to find new ways to put them to use, depending on your requirements.


Remember, your kitchen is your best friend. This space is all you need to develop all your creations. It is the best place to start practising until you can work in a professional kitchen.


You can make do with what you already have in your kitchen. You do not need to spend a lot of money on high-tech equipment. You can work with essential equipment, such as cutting boards, knives, and other tools that you believe are required.


When working on recipes, do not expect perfection from the start. Always keep in mind that practice makes you perfect. The more you keep practising, the more possibilities you will have to improve.


You can also benefit from the internet and make the most out of the material it offers. You can even discover autobiographies, recipe books, and videos by world-famous chefs on the internet.


Not only that, but you will also find several online classes through which you can learn step by step procedures on how to prepare different dishes. Depending on your level of understanding and the type of cuisine you prefer to cook, you will find the best option for you.


At first, it is suggested that you have a basic understanding of the subject. You do not have to focus on learning something specific. You can learn from different culinary methods as cooking is all about experimentation, and your skills can be used for preparing various meals.


When it comes to learning how to cook and become a chef, social media can be pretty beneficial. You can follow industry-relevant profiles on Facebook and Instagram and learn from them. Typically, these accounts post quick hacks and videos that won't consume much of your time.


Additionally, you will find a lot of visual content on the internet, including exciting data and ingredient substitution methods if you do not have the right ones. This way, you will continue polishing your chef skills in a fun way without going to an institution.



5. How Much Does a Chef Earn in Australia?
The chef salary in Australia depends on the seniority level in a kitchen and where you work. According to PayScale's most recent data, the following is the chef's salary range in Australia:


  • Executive Chef: AU$53,000 – AU$115,000 

  • Head Chef: AU$49,000 – AU$81,000

  • Sous Chef: AU$49,000 – AU$70,000

  • Kitchen Chef: AU$41,000 – AU$60,000

Now that you know everything about how to become a chef in Australia, you are ready to make your culinary dreams come true!


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