OFO No: 343401

Other names for a Chef:

  • Chef De Partie
  • Commis Chef
  • Demi Chef
  • Executive Chef
  • Head Chef
  • Pastry Chef
  • Saucier
  • Second Chef
  • Sous Chef


Youtube clip – All about the career of a Chef


Youtube clip – Cafeteria Cooking

For training options in South Africa – scroll down


To meet Bonga Ngxingwa – Demi Chef at Nobu Restaurant, Cape Town


What is a Chef?

A Chef usually runs or is in charge of a kitchen in a restaurant, hotel, school, hospital, old-aged home, university, cruise ship, resort etc. 

They are in charge of the kitchen staff, preparing menus, ordering supplies and preparing the food.

Chefs work particularly long hours. This profession demands passion and dedication.


To meet Chef, Matt Manning
to learn more about his cooking career


There are different ranks of Chefs:   

  • Commis Chef

usually works under a Chef de Partie – preparing food and learning basic cooking skills

  • Chef de Partie

is a junior Chef, usually in charge of one aspect of the kitchen like sauces, vegetables, soups, or salads etc

  • Demi Chef

also known as a Line Chef – job can be varied – ranging from meal preparation to budgeting to training employees

  • Second Chef/Sous Chef

is usually second in command of the kitchen

  • Executive Chef

also known as Head Chef is in charge of the kitchen. They manage the kitchen staff, plan menus, work out budgets and pricing and are generally involved in the business side of the establishment as well as the cooking.

What does a Chef do?

  • plans menus
  • works out pricing
  • works out staff rosters/shifts/schedules
  • plans food preparations
  • orders supplies and keeps stock
  • trains other members of kitchen staff
  • enforces health and safety regulations
  • creates new dishes
  • stores food correctly

Are you … ?

  • extremely passionate about food?
  • willing to work long and unusual hours, including weekends and late at night?
  • able to stand for long periods at a time?
  • a person with a good sense of taste?
  • able to read and write?
  • a person with basic mathematical skills?
  • a team player?
  • able to work under extreme stress?
  • good with your hands?
  • creative?

How do I become a Chef?

It’s a longer way round, but you could start off as a kitchen hand or dishwasher in a restaurant or hotel. See under Dishwasher  on our website for more details. 

As a dishwasher, the head Chef might notice your hard work and get you to help them in the kitchen. 

From here, you can collect all the skills necessary to become an assistant chef and then work towards becoming a Head Chef.


Many TVET (FET) colleges, Universities of Technology and specialised ‘hospitality’ institutions offer various cooking / chef courses.

For example:

  • Assistant Chef  Training
  • Professional Cookery Training 
  • Hospitality Management: Professional Cookery


  • CLICK HERE to check for a training institution near you to see what they offer.
  • Make sure you understand their entry requirements for each course.
  • To avoid scams, make sure your institution is registered with the Department of Higher Education. 
  • CLICK HERE to check accredited Private Higher Education Institutions. 


Other routes to take:


  • Apprenticeship
  • Trade Test


  • Learnership – Professional Cookery NQF Level 2, 3 and 4
  • Trade Test


  • National Certificate in Food and Beverage Services (NQF Level 2, 3 and 4)
  • These can be completed at many TVET (FET) colleges. Check your local college to see what they offer.
  • Trade Test


  • Certificate in Food and Beverage Service (NQF Level 3)
  • Certificate in Food Service Supervision (NQF Level 4)
  • Trade Test


  • Certificate in Food and Beverage Service (NQF Level 3)
  • Certificate in Food and Beverage Service (NQF Level 3)
  • Trade Test


  • National Certificate: Food Services: N2 and N3
  • Workplace experience
  • Trade Test


  • RPL (Recognised Prior Learning) for Artisans: CLICK HERE
  • If you have already been working a long time as a Chef without qualifications, you may be able to get your qualification through RPL
  • Trade Test

OTHER CAREERS TO CONSIDER : Caterer … or … Pastry Chef … or … Baker

Is becoming a Chef the right career choice for me?