Become an Airline Chef: Education and Career Roadmap
Learn how to become an airline chef. Research the education requirements, training and experience that you'll need to start a career in the airline catering industry.
Step 1: Enroll in an Associate Program or Apprenticeship
To build the skills necessary to become a chef, formal training likely will be necessary. This training might occur at a college or university, through a culinary school or in an apprenticeship. Programs at colleges and culinary schools typically last from 1-4 years, depending on a variety of factors including the type of program and the level of degree or certificate. The length of an apprenticeship is usually determined by the master chef's requirements and the student's goals.
Step 2: Gain Experience in a Kitchen
Upon receiving formal training, graduates need to gain experience. They might work as line cooks or sous chefs or in another position in the hospitality industry. Skills such as basic food safety and menu planning may be further developed, and skills learned in formal education will be honed through experience.
Step 3: Earn More Responsibility in the Hospitality Industry
Aspiring airline chefs must demonstrate the ability to handle responsibility as a kitchen leader. They must be knowledgeable in areas such as food preparation, inventory and menu planning. They also must demonstrate management skills since being able to run a kitchen with a staff involves more than being able to cook.
Step 4: Obtain Experience in the Airline Catering Industry
Working as a chef for the airline industry involves not just making meals, but knowing how to deliver those meals in an appetizing and timely way. Although there are some rare exceptions, most airlines do not have chefs on board their planes. Larger airlines hire catering services to take care of their food needs. The caterers deliver large numbers of meals that will travel with the aircraft. Overnight flights might have multiple meals, and some airlines have cultural requirements for their meal needs. Airline catering services generally are located near airports for logistical reasons, but they are also widely distributed, which may allow for living in a variety of locations. Catering positions often include some on-the-job training.
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