Commis Chef to Head Chef, What is Your Career Path?

17 Jan 2020

17 Jan 2020

So, you’ve decided that a job as a Commis chef is the one for you; now, what to do next and how to you climb the ranks?

Start at the bottom and work your way up? Of course this is a great option if you don’t want to go down the educational route. Experience in the field is one of the most important aspects of becoming a head chef from a Commis chef position, in fact, its vital.

Alternatively, from being a commis chef to reaching a head chef position, completing relevant courses and educational schemes is always beneficial. A good educational grounding will provide an excellent foundation for a long and rewarding career as a chef.

Formal Qualifications

In the UK, culinary qualifications can be obtained at a range of levels. For example please see below some options to consider:


Colleges across the UK offer courses in culinary arts and professional cookery. To study for a level 3 diploma, at least 4 GCSEs at grades A*-C or equivalent are required. Above level 3, A levels or equivalent qualifications are also required.

Courses can be found using the search tool on the National Careers Service website.


A higher national diploma, foundation degree or degree can be obtained in culinary and hospitality fields. Entry to a UK university usually requires multiple A-levels or qualifications of the same level or in some cases an undergraduate scheme is available across some universities.

Universities and courses can be found using the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) website.

Depending on the path you take to get that first step through the kitchen door, whether it’s a university course you’ve enrolled on, an apprenticeship scheme or you’ve decided to start from the bottom and work your way up through the ranks. You’re probably wondering what the steps are from a commis chef all the way up to a head chef…

So, you’ve made it to the Kitchen. Now what?

The lowest rank in the kitchen is the porter. Starting here, you will mainly be charged with cleaning responsibilities and perhaps some simple food preparation such as chopping/peeling vegetables.

Promotion to Commis Chef will then see you developing more advanced culinary skills, progressing into basic cooking.  This role is a key training step in the career of a chef. A commis chef works in a particular section of the kitchen and will rotate between these sections during their training. They include: butchery, vegetables, sauces and pastry.

Each section is overseen by a chef de partie. These chefs can be junior or senior and are responsible the quality of everything produced at their station, guiding their commis chefs and communicating with each other to ensure all parts of the kitchen are working collaboratively.

A chef de partie can then be promoted to sous chef. This often requires additional training/qualifications in management as this job starts to deal with the business side of running a kitchen and liaising with other areas of the business as well as working closely with the head chef.

After developing and refining you career as a chef over the years, it’s time to step up to the role of a head chef.  In this role you will be the figure that everyone in the kitchen looks up to for inspiration and leadership.

How To Develop your career from a commis chef to a head chef even further

Have you ever wondered how your career might progress even more? If you can demonstrate that you’re good at your job, then of course it never stops you from climbing your professional ladder even further, because of course there is always a ‘Next step’, the opportunities are endless.

Once you’ve held down a role as a head chef for some years, you might feel ready to take the plunge and try something else entirely. Who’s to say you can take these skills into the front of house sector of hospitality? Do your research and see what else is out there..