To become a chef, an individual needs to complete training through work experience or an apprenticeship, or by attending an educational institution. A prospective chef might also start out as a line cook and learn the necessary cooking skills from a head chef.
A majority of chefs choose to attend a community college, culinary arts school, technical college or a four-year educational institution. A culinary student spends most of his formal education in the kitchen learning how to plan a menu, inventory methods, food sanitation and purchasing. Depending on the program, the student might also be required to complete an internship or apprenticeship at a commercial kitchen before he completes his program.
An individual who decides to train on the job may complete a mentorship program and learn from a sous chef, executive chef or head chef at a fine dining restaurant. There are also trade unions, industry associations and professional culinary institutes that offer apprenticeship programs. Such programs usually last two years and can include on-the-job training, which an apprentice might be paid for. In order to qualify for an apprenticeship, an individual typically has to be at least 17 years old, drug-free and have a high school diploma or its equivalent.