How Can I Become a Chef at a Thai Restaurant?

Research what it takes to become a chef at a Thai restaurant. Learn about the education requirements, job skills and professional certifications available for chefs to find out whether this is the career for you. Schools offering Hotel & Restaurant Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Thai Restaurant Chef Do?

A chef at a Thai restaurant is the top food preparation professional and supervisor in the kitchen. In addition to assisting with cooking and plating, chefs manage kitchen staff, deal with customers and order food and supplies. Because chefs are responsible for writing the menu and testing new recipes, those at Thai restaurants need to have a solid understanding of Thai cooking methods and cuisine. For instance, they may include menu items such as Pad Thai, gang keow wan (Thai green curry), kai jiew moo saap (a Thai omelet) and Thai iced tea.

Review the table below to learn more about this career.

Education Required High school diploma; postsecondary education and apprenticeships are optional
Training Required On-the-job training
Key Skills Hand-eye coordination, attention to detail, physical stamina, communication
Certification Chef certifications are voluntary
Job Growth (2014-2024) 9% (for all chefs and head cooks)*
Average Salary (2015) $45,920 (for all chefs and head cooks)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Education Do I Need to Become a Chef at a Thai Restaurant?

While not all chefs have a formal culinary education, you might still benefit from enrolling in a certificate or degree program. Many 2-year community colleges and for-profit culinary schools offer certificate and Associate of Applied Science degree programs in culinary arts. Certificate programs can be completed in about a year, and associate's degree programs take roughly two years to complete. You could also enroll in a 4-year Bachelor of Science program in culinary arts or culinary management. A bachelor's degree program would provide you with a liberal arts education and advanced training in culinary arts.

What Will I Learn?

Whether you enroll in a certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree program, you'll receive practical training in cooking and baking in a professional-grade kitchen. You'll learn to identify meats, seafood and vegetables, and you will learn cooking techniques such as sautéing, frying, braising and rendering. Most culinary arts programs offer courses in cuisines from around the world. Coursework in Asian cuisine could teach you the various cooking styles common to Thai cuisine. You'll learn to cook soup, pasta, seafood, meat and more.

In addition to your practical training, you'd take coursework that teaches kitchen management skills and mathematical concepts you need to know to create and follow recipes. Most associate's and bachelor's degree programs require coursework in hospitality management, which teaches concepts such as purchasing, taking inventory and ensuring employee safety.

What Certifications Are Available?

If you're looking to get certified as a chef, you could work toward American Culinary Federation (ACF) certification (www.acfchefs.org). Although the ACF doesn't offer certification in any particular ethnic cuisine, a number of certifications could still prove useful. Entry-level chefs generally begin with the Certified Culinarian (CC) designation. If you earn an associate's degree and have five years of work experience, you can earn the Certified Sous Chef (CSC) designation. Further experience could qualify you for the more advanced Certified Chef de Cuisine (CCC) and Certified Executive Chef (CEC) designations.

To earn ACF certification, you'll have to take written and practical exams. The practical exams would require you to demonstrate your cooking proficiency in front of a panel of chefs. If you get certified through the ACF, you have to complete 80 continuing education hours every five years to recertify.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Chefs have a variety of employment options from which to choose. Instead of working at a Thai restaurant, you could work at a restaurant that focuses on a different type of food, such as Indian, Italian, Chinese or French cuisine. You could also find a job at a different kind of hospitality industry establishment, such as a cruise ship or casino, at a catering company or even in a private home. If you definitely want a restaurant job, you could think about becoming a food service manager. These professionals ensure that the restaurant as a whole runs smoothly, keeping track of business considerations like budgeting and hiring, as well as overseeing kitchen operations. While this job does not require a postsecondary degree, a business-related certificate or degree can boost job prospects.

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