With the shortage of cooks, it’s a good time to put on an apron! But what does it take to be a chef? According to Jean-Louis Thémis, a cook and retired professor at the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ), it is first and foremost essential to be fond of good food!
Learn the techniques
Across Canada, training is divided in a similar way, regardless of the province. The first step is one and a half years of professional education. “What students learn in the professional cooking diploma is mostly mimicry. They are taught what they will do over and over again. They learn the techniques, the basics.”
As part of the professional diploma they follow either the general cooking course or the baking course.
Complete understanding of the kitchen
After professional training, students can register for training in higher cuisine, also called training in market-fresh cuisine. This is a one-year course where they learn to master all facets of the kitchen. “It is really complete training,” explains Chef Thémis. “In the end, they are cooks, pastry chefs, bakers… They understand all the disciplines and can work in all these fields.”
According to the chef, higher cuisine education takes cooking to an intellectual level. “In the higher training they learn, for example, what it takes to make a mayonnaise. Once the understand the chemistry behind the interaction of ingredients, there are no more limits! For example, you can make a mayonnaise with foie gras. It lets you extrapolate. Cooking then becomes scientific and much more creative!”
Subsequently, the students can develop their know-how by doing internships in major houses with renowned chefs. Some universities also offer to complete chef training by providing a certificate of gastronomy where it is mainly about the philosophical aspect of cuisine.
The essential element: passion
But beyond training, according to Chef Thémis, what is essential is passion, above all! “In cuisine, passion drives everything! Everything hinges on that! To do this profession, you have to never give up, because it is demanding. You have a very special relationship with food. There are many emotions and also a great deal of pressure. You have to be patient. Actions have to be done and redone hundreds of times to master them. But when you are doing what you are passionate about, all that is acceptable!”