A chef is a skilled professional cook who is responsible for overseeing the overall operations of a kitchen.
Do you really want to become a chef? Start by cooking your daily lunches and dinners at home. Try out new recipes, by reading cook books or looking at cooking shows.
Volunteer to cook at your small family gatherings, parties, and events. This will give you a sense of what it takes to cook for larger number of people and you will also get the opportunity of getting their feedback on your dishes.
Though a college degree is not required to become a chef, it is highly recommended to get an Associates degree or a Bachelor's degree in Culinary Arts if you want to become a head chef and excel in your career. Master's degree is rarely needed unless you want to become a food scientist.
You have a vast number of options to get your degree for becoming a chef. You can get your degree from your local community college, or get it from one the top and prestigious institutions in the USA or the world.
Getting a degree from a well-known institution will pave the way for you to get a job as a cook in premier establishments, get promoted to head chef, and will pay you the top salary in the culinary field.
Try to get a job in a small local restaurant. Most local restaurants will have starter or helper jobs that will not require prior cooking experience. This will help you get started with working in a commercial kitchen, work with a small team, and most importantly gain professional experience that will help you kick start your chef career.
Once you have some professional experience under your belt, start applying for cook jobs in bigger well-known restaurants and hotels. These could be major national brands or local well-known establishments.
There are numerous culinary institutions that provide certifications that are well regarded in the culinary world.
Get and maintain one or more certifications from these institutions to keep growing in your career as a cook.
There are many culinary organizations and institutions that you can become a member of and network with like-minded professionals.
Networking with other chefs and exchanging ideas will help you in many ways - in creating new recipes, creating new menus, ideas to improve processes in the kitchen operations etc.
Continuously strive to excel and grow in your career as a chef - Create and experiment with new recipes and ingredients, create new menus, find new ways to decorate and present dishes
Continue developing your leadership skills. Lead and work with your team, mentor team members with less experience than you. etc.