Fast Ed's fab four

Remember, you have many different options in front of you about how you could approach your education. There's not just one pathway anymore

With the huge popularity of TV cooking shows, plus a greater awareness of healthy eating generally (something that's often linked to home cooking), it seems everyone these days wants to be a chef.

With more than 25 years' experience in the industry, celebrity TV chef "Fast Ed" Halmagyi has noticed that the people entering the hospitality industry generally fall into one of four different groups. For each group, Fast Ed offers a piece of advice for success; specially tailored to the group's needs and expectations and lightly drizzled in a lime, garlic and pine nut dressing. Over to you, Fast Ed…

Group 1: TAFE at school

Started their hospitality studies while still at school, often completing their Certificate II as part of their HSC before enrolling at TAFE to continue with Certificate III.

Fast Ed's advice: Be prepared for some surprises

"Congratulations, you've made a fantastic career choice. But remember, the expectations you might have around what commercial cookery training is and what the hospitality industry offers may be very different practice to the way in which it's been taught to you through school. School-based education is fantastic and provides a very protected and informative atmosphere where kids can learn a lot of the basic skills that underpin cookery."

Group 2: School leavers

Completed the School Certificate or HSC and considering the possibility of a career as a chef.

Fast Ed's advice: Consider all options

"Remember, you have many different options in front of you about how you could approach your education. There's not just one pathway anymore. You may choose the traditional methods, which means three years part-time at TAFE and then a year full-time in industry. Or you might choose to do your actual textbook-based education in a single full-time year and follow that up with three years in industry. You need to find the pathway that works for you."

Group 3: Industry upgraders

Already working in the industry but wanting to diversify and upgrade their skillset

Fast Ed's advice: Never stop learning

"Remember what's on offer - Certificate IV courses cover a huge range of different things, everything from bread-making to chocolate work, sugar work, you name it. If you can dream it, you can do it. Check out Cookery and Wine Careers on the TAFE NSW website, find things that are of interest to you and make sure you get yourself enrolled. You don't want to get down later in your career and go ‘Gee, I really wish I'd gone and got that extension knowledge. I could actually apply for this job now if I only had that level of education.'"

Group 4: Career changers

Late 20s or early 30s and wanting to take their career in a completely different direction.

Fast Ed's advice: Be patient

"It's much easier to do an apprenticeship when you're a teenager than, say, in your late 20s or early 30s. When you're young, you're more likely to be able to live at home while earning first-year apprenticeship wages. But provided you can do it economically, don't let the pressure put you off. If you're coming from a different industry, be prepared to be a little bit patient and understand that commercial cookery has its own traditions and its own ways of operating. They may not be the same as where you've come from, but they're meaningful and important in their own way."

Fast Ed's bonus advice to all groups…

[quote]This is an industry where you work hard. You're on your feet, they're long hours.[/quote]

"And remember, we work when others want to play, because that's what we do – we look after other people when they want to eat. But there are loads of brilliant opportunities. And there are so many different ways in which you can enjoy working in hospitality – from cruise ships to hotels to motels to cafes, restaurants, catering, private dining you name it."