7 Best Ways to Learn How To Become A Chef

You might think that to become a chef that you would need a big degree from a fancy cooking school. So it may even surprise you at what some of the top chefs in the game would say to that.

Do I Need Culinary School?

No, it’s not necessary. Many of the great chefs around the world haven’t gone to any form of culinary school. For ages in France, most of the top chefs worked their way up in the kitchen.

For those with the smarts and the discipline to learn on their own, you can gain a lot without ever going to school.

Start Cooking At Home

Many of the great chefs obsess over trying new dishes and techniques. If you have a passion for cooking and you get excited about using your family members as lab rats, you are a chef.

Dining out is great for inspiration. Start by coming home and trying to recreate your favorite restaurant dishes.

As you get more confident, try making harder recipes. Some home chefs even go so far as making a weekly menu.

The important thing here is that you get started.

Ask Friends And Family

The majority of people who learn how to cook start by watching a family member. Chances are that you don’t live with a chef, but if you made it this far in life, someone fed you. (Thanks, mom!)

You probably know at least ONE good cook, no?

If you want to learn how to cook better get into the kitchen anytime you can and offer to lend a hand. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll start learning much faster. Simple yes, but very effective.

Watch YouTube Videos

School can be a good way to cover the basics, but nowadays you can learn all that stuff on YouTube for free.

A quick YouTube search will result in thousands of free cooking lessons on anything you can think of. Everything from the basic knife and plating skills, to how to cook a steak or a quiche. And everything between.

You will be able to learn at your own pace by following along from simple prep to the most complex dishes.

Online Cooking Courses

Some of us prefer more structure than winging it on YouTube. Luckily, you can now find tons of affordable cooking classes online.

The advantage here is that you can learn at your own pace, with an organized curriculum, for the price of a dinner out.

To save you some time, we found a great current list of online cooking courses.

On-the-Job Training (The Best!)

Start in a kitchen in a low-level job and show a willingness to learn. Show that you have drive and commitment. You’ll have a much better chance of succeeding. 

You’ll also see if this type of work is for you and make money while you learn.

The fast pace of a busy kitchen is a trial-by-fire that will teach you more in a few months than anything else out there.

Apprenticeships are invaluable. If your heart and soul are in the culinary arts, it will shine through.

Local Cooking Classes

Many people want to learn how to cook to entertain their friends and family. And working long hours in a busy restaurant kitchen for low wages for years is not the dream for everyone.

Online training lacks the “hands-on” experience needed to master certain techniques. Enrolling in a culinary college far away for four years is not an option for most of us. Enter the local cooking class!

In recent years we’ve seen these sprouting up all over the place. In local grocery stores and restaurants, meetups, and now even Airbnb experiences. And of course, Sur La Table cooking classes.

Google for “cooking classes” in your city to see what’s available near you.

Culinary School

And finally, if you have the time (and money) Culinary schools can be a good way for people to get hands-on experience. Understand that school not a prerequisite to become a chef.

Culinary schools have produced some amazing world-renowned chefs. They give you the structure and pace to make sure you have a solid foundation.

You get your hands dirty and get to work alongside other people doing what they love the most.

Choosing a school that’s right for you is important. If this is the route you choose then you should read this article about how to chose a culinary school.


Whatever you decide, start slow and keep your end goals in mind. Learning how to make a few simple recipes alone will impress most people. But careful, this can be addicting!

For those of you with the passion to make this your career, open that small cafe one day, or become the next TV chef…

Let’s get cookin!