Insights into Chef as a profession
- Authenticity and creativity are two chief traits a chef should possess. Great chefs concoct different kinds of cuisines catering to people’s different tastes.
- Food is a very risky business. It’s like a Lego house. One wrong move and everything may just fall apart
- The range of remuneration a chef earns cannot be estimated. It depends upon various factors, for example, what kind of an eatery outlet you’ve established, your experience and contacts, the degrees you’ve pursued, etc.
- As a chef, I’d recommend individuals to secure their Bachelor’s, Masters and diploma courses from India itself. One should always start out by understanding their culture and the different cuisines. To add to that, various colleges in India provide international exposure too, hence it’s a win-win situation to stay here.
- Feedback and constructive criticisms are a part and parcel of being a chef. Hence, one shouldn’t consider this a personal jab and should try to manifest their opinions into their cooking style.
- Many are aware that setting up bar/restaurant/café requires getting licenses from govt. bodies, but not many are aware that even setting up a food truck requires tedious license taking the procedure, which is very exhausting.
Name – Megha Joshi
Profession – Chef
Gender – Female
Age – 30 years
City – Mumbai
Industry – Hospitality
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ChefMeghaJoshi
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Gujarat, India. At the age of 3, my family and I relocated to South Africa. I completed my schooling and pursued my graduation there.
However, I decided to move to Mumbai, India following this and have established a career here.
What is your family background?
We were a family of five, my parents, two siblings and me. My father was a Hindu Priest and my mother, a chef. All of us were intimately fused. We were one big clan, you could say.
Growing up, my parents had an exceptional influence on me. Since, we’d been residing in South Africa for years, away from our extended family, I noticed how both of my parents made things happen for themselves. They didn’t require anyone’s assistance or support. They were resilient and independent and that really rubbed off of on me.
Please give me a summary of your career.
After pursuing my graduation from South Africa, I decided to come to Mumbai as a hair and makeup artist.
I didn’t work for a particular modeling agency back then, but I interacted with umpteen people and eventually landed various model and celebrity shoots. I did a lot of editorials too and got this opportunity through “Mariam Shaikh”.
However, I wanted to do something apart from this job. And I did.
I came across a flyer regarding a food truck show called “Femme Foodies” and decided to try my luck there since I was always passionate about cooking and creating.
I sent the channel a brief introduction interview with myself. Soon, I was required to shoot videos concocting dishes of my own within a particular time frame.
Eventually, I was selected as one of their top ten finalists. Following this, I had to move to Goa for a certain period of time since all the episodes were shot there.
A few months into the show, I was declared the winner, hence winning a food truck too!
Since then, I’ve been ‘paving’ a path through this food truck!
I also work at a restaurant called “Urban Street Cafe” as a chef.
So, this sums up everything I’ve accomplished up till now.
Which institutes, according to you, are the best for pursuing this career?
There are innumerable courses and degrees a person can pursue in order to become a chef, for example, a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in culinary arts, a diploma in culinary arts or other certified courses, etc.
The faculty is pretty good, and a lot of focus is given to the practical side of the course which is exactly what you should be looking for.
Going abroad is an option too since you’ll be familiarising yourself with various cultures and their numberless cuisines, but I’d suggest you study Indian culture and our cuisines first before embarking upon studying other cultures’ dishes.
Also, there are various institutes in India providing international exposure, so you get the best of both worlds if you choose to remain here.
What is the expenditure associated with the education/training of Chef, approximately?
If you’re pursuing your Bachelor’s in Culinary Arts, which lasts for about three to four years, you’ll incur an expenditure of approximately INR 40,000–50,000 per year.
As for your Master’s, which usually lasts for a year, your expenditure may range from INR 50,000 to 1.2 lakhs per annum depending upon the college you’re securing this degree from.
For diplomas and certified courses, the fee structure ranges according to the amount of time the course typically lasts for. Some diploma courses end within 9 months while some require 1.5–2 years to complete.
This is with regards to studying in India. When it comes to studying abroad, I wouldn’t know how much you’d have to spend.
How does one manage to enter this field?
After completing a course of your choice, like your bachelor’s and master’s in culinary arts or hotel management and securing diplomas and certificates, you can start working in a hotel/café/restaurant or on setting up your business.
As for a food truck, you’re your own boss. You don’t work for anyone. However, a food truck comes with its own set of other hindrances and challenges, for example, acquiring a license isn’t guaranteed and without a license, a food truck is considered illegal. Hence, one should address these factors before opting for this career.
What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career & industry?
When starting out, one can earn about 50,000 INR per month as an assistant chef.
But with experience, there is probably no set pattern of the income range, because Chef’s work is an art!
The range of remuneration that a chef can earn varies a lot depending on several factors such as experience, where they’re working, what kind of a food outlet they’ve established [food truck, restaurant, cafe], their contacts, etc.
I know chefs’ earning few lakhs per month and others not earning so well.
Please describe your work.
I work at a restaurant and have my own food truck. Hence, my responsibilities vary. My main priority is my food truck at the moment.
I’m almost always in the kitchen regardless of the setting, concocting and coming up with recipes that people may have never tried before.
Creating, experimenting and presenting different cuisines on our menu, is something I attend to as well.
Very frequently, when I’m not at the restaurant, I’m required to set up my truck at different venues for various events too. Sometimes these events last for days together, so, during this period, I invest my time only doing this.
I put in about 4–6 hours every day and work from Monday-Saturday.
In your opinion, what are some benefits that would encourage an individual to consider this career/job?
There’s no end to learning when it comes to cooking. It’s extremely interesting. Every day is different and dynamic.
Every culture has its own set of spices and ingredients. Exploring and covering different Indian cuisines itself takes a very, very long time, so one can only imagine how much there’s to learn. And then there’s creating your own dishes too!
I’m also able to balance my work and life perfectly as a chef. Since I’m pursuing my passion, there’s hardly any pressure on me. I’m my own boss. Of course, every profession comes with its set of difficulties but I’m able to manage everything pretty gracefully.
If you identify yourself as a people person, you’ll never get bored of being a chef. A chef is expected to meet different people especially the extremely polished and experienced. Hence one can learn ample from them.
Adding to these points, kitchen equipment and machines make things simpler and easier to work with. So, one doesn’t need to worry a lot about manpower.
Can you mention a few challenges that you would want someone to be aware of if they’re considering this career/job course?
First of all, food is a very risky business. It’s like a Lego house. One wrong move and everything may just fall apart. For example, if a particular client approaches you with a food/health issue, it’ll automatically put you in a precarious position.
Next, the income a chef earns isn’t determined/ fixed. It may depend upon your contacts, your position in the hierarchy, the number of people visiting your restaurant/ cafe/ food truck, etc. It’s pretty unpredictable.
You’re also expected to accept criticism, whether it’s constructive or not and respect an individual’s personal taste/preference which many people may view as a personal attack.
Contrary to the point mentioned as a benefit previously, with changing times, the demand for manpower has been dwindling. Machines are replacing the need for workforce since they carry out the same functions efficiently and speedily. Hence, employment opportunities are diminishing which is detrimental for people who need jobs.
If you’re thinking of purchasing a food truck, you have to know that setting up a truck in Mumbai without the necessary licenses is considered illegal. Hence, acquiring all the licenses is one tedious and exhausting procedure. Sometimes, you’re not granted the licenses at all.
What are some relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding a premium in your job profile?
With an advancement in technology, the requirement for kitchen equipment has been increasing rapidly.
It’s essential to keep up with these changes. Today, machines are carrying out functions that required manpower, previously. These facilities are much more efficient in terms of their speed and performance. Hence, it’s important for a chef to invest in and make use of these equipments.
What kind of a person, do you think, would be content in this field?
Authenticity and originality are two very important elements a chef should possess. It’s important to experiment and create ceaselessly, come up with new recipes, play around with ingredients, etc. You ought to be open to new, untried things. It’s mandatory, really.
As a chef, being surrounded by different people and interacting with them is inevitable. So, it’s important to evaluate your personality attributes and your nature before opting for such a profession.
You also have to cater to people’s tastes, welcome feedback, and constructive criticism and manifest it into your cooking techniques.
If you think these factors can be assimilated into your personality, you’ll definitely love being a chef.
Given another choice, what would you do differently as far as your professional selections are concerned?
No, I absolutely love my job.
Initially, I thought my purpose was to serve as a ‘hair and makeup artist’, however, there was a part of me that felt otherwise. After a lot of contemplation, I found what had been hidden away from me for so many years.
My passion for cooking and creating!
I’ve paved a path through this road since then and have never come across a moment of regret.
What advice would you offer to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?
Keep the passion alive and burning. Keep creating. Don’t follow. Use your dexterity in an authentic way.
Contributing Writer – Urvi Shah