Do you know your way around the kitchen? We don’t mean whether you can find a bowl and a spoon for cereal. We’re talking about serious pots and pans action. Can you cook up a delicious meal from scratch?

Or would you prefer to eat out at a restaurant where a professional chef does all the work? If you’ve ever eaten at a fancy restaurant, you know that chefs take their work very seriously. They elevate the planning and preparation of meals to an art.

But how do you become a chef? Everyone can cook, right? Well, everyone can feed themselves when necessary, but cooking a gourmet meal takes skill, training, and lots of practice.

Thousands of years ago, people became chefs by becoming an apprentice to someone who was already a chef. By working alongside a chef for months or years, an apprentice could learn all about planning and preparing meals. Eventually, the apprentice would know enough to become a chef and teach others.

Today, you can still be an apprentice to a chef. You can also go to a special school for chefs. We call those schools culinary schools, because they teach the culinary arts, such as food preparation, care and use of kitchen equipment, and menu planning.

Being a chef can mean a lot more than just cooking. Head chefs sometimes spend most of their time planning menus and supervising kitchen staff that does most, if not all, of the actual food preparation. Kitchen staff can include a variety of different types of chefs. Some common types of chefs you might find at large restaurants include:

  • The head chef or executive chef runs the kitchen and is responsible for creating the menu and overseeing all the kitchen workers.
  • The sous chef is the head chef’s assistant and shares those duties. The sous chef is likely to have more direct oversight of kitchen workers and may also help prepare food daily.
  • Station chefs — also known as line cooks or chefs de partie — are in charge of particular food preparation duties. Many restaurants have multiple line cooks that specialize in different food preparation areas.
  • Depending upon the restaurant and its specialties, there may also be several specialty chefs that focus on particular aspects of the menu. These can include sauciers (sauces), poissoniers (fish), entremetiers (vegetables), rotisseurs (roast meats), and pâtissiers (pastries and desserts).

43 Join the Discussion

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    • You sure were on the right path, Hannah~402– great Wonder guess! We Wonder if you have a favorite recipe or meal to cook with your mom? It sounds like you know your way around the kitchen! YUM– we LOVE WONDERing with you! :)

  1. Hi! I liked this wonder a lot! I think it would be fun to be a chef! I like to help in the kitchen a lot at home. Have you guys ever done a wonder on what you want to be when you grow up? If not, you should! Thank you for today’s wonder! :) ;)

  2. Hi Wonderopolis,

    Some of us like to cook with our families at home. We have connections to making things homemade or cooking from scratch. Some of our grandmas make homemade sauce. One of us makes homemade ginger ale, pizza, lemonade, cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and chili.
    We predict tomorrow’s wonder will be about a mint, a lollipop or stick, a gumball, big animals, an orange, bones, hot dog, cheeseburgers, a cow, and meat.

    • HOORAY, our Wonder Friends, Froggy 1, are wearing their Wonder aprons today! It’s great to know that many of our Wonder Friends enjoy cooking at home. It’s a very fun activity, and we bet you can learn a lot from older family members who have been cooking and baking for a long time! We’re getting hungry just thinking about all these delicious homemade treats you listed! Thank you for sharing your connections and predictions today! YOU ROCK! :)

    • That’s a SUPER question, Ms. Burns’ Class! Hygiene is incredibly important when it comes to food, so clean hands are a key component of cooking! If culinary students don’t wear gloves, it’s because they have washed their hands very well. Sometimes gloves can be difficult to wear when dealing with certain types of food, so extra-clean hands is an important part of the culinary world! :)

  3. To be a chef, you have to go to chef school.
    Some of us can cook things like pancakes, rice, pork chops. Cooking is fun.

    • Great work, Wonder Friends in Mrs. Glover’s K-Class! Thank you for telling us about what it takes to be a chef, and what you learn to make in culinary school, too! We think pancakes, rice and pork chops are delicious and we think you learn all about cooking those foods in school! Cooking is fun, and so is WONDERing with you! Thanks for joining us today! :)

    • What a great point, Little Miss Sweet Heart! We Wonder if you enjoy cooking? Do you have a favorite recipe or meal to share? :)

  4. Hi Wonderopolis!

    Some of us are chefs in training! We enjoy making desserts. We enjoyed learning about all the different chefs and what they do in the kitchen.

    We think tomorrows’s Wonder of the Day may be about the cinnamon challenge or chicken bones.

    Our teacher thinks it will be about pride.

    BYE!!

    • Thanks for WONDERing with us today, Ms. G’s Class! We’re so excited that we have some Wonder Friends who are chefs- and bakers-in-training! Y-U-M! :-)

      We hope you’ll keep creating cool new dishes for you and your family to enjoy! We love using our imaginations and creativity in the kitchen! Thanks for sharing your Wonder predictions for tomorrow. We hope everyone is feeling A-okay! :)

    • We’re so happy to know that you learned a new thing or two today, Jace! We sure do appreciate all the awesome chefs out there and how hard they work to get where they are! :)

    • Keep up the great work, Cool5! We Wonder what your favorite food or food creation is, Wonder Friend? We hope you keep doing your best and perhaps we’ll eat at one of your restaurants in the future!? :)

    • That is one way to start your culinary career, Joe, great work! Cooking is a big part of being a chef, and learning how to do things correctly and with the right tools is important, too! :)

  5. Thoughts, Connections, Questions: Bryan- Do you have to get a special license to work at a restaurant? Hayden- How can people cook so good? Aaliyah- I cooked dinner for my family once. Sierra- My dad was a chef. Michael- My dad worked at O’Charley’s at the salads. I’ve always wanted to be a chef.

    Predictions: Hayden- Have you ever had your tonsils out? Bryan- How can you save someone from choking? Erica- How do you swallow a pill? Sierra- How spicy is spicy stuff? Cassie- Why are you not allowed to eat raw fish?

    • Thank you so much for sharing your comments today, Mrs. VanDusen’s Class! We are excited to read all your awesome thoughts, connections, questions and predictions today!

      Bryan, Hayden, Aaliyah, Sierra, Michael: While you don’t have to have a license to be a chef, many people go to culinary school to learn all about the food industry. They also learn how to cook, serve and manage food! However, others work in the food industry for their entire lives without going to culinary school. This is what we call “learning on the job”! :)

      We are excited about your awesome Wonder guesses, Hayden, Bryan, Erica, Sierra, and Cassie! See you tomorrow! :)

  6. What we learned: It takes a lot of skill and practice to be a chef. – Dominic

    I learned chefs can plan menus and supervise kitchen staff. – Maya

    Connections: I think cooking is stressful because you have to keep track of time and move quickly. (no name)
    When I grow up I want to be an executive chef and I plan on going to culinary school. – Alayna

    Prediction: how to deal with a bully – Isabella
    choking – Sean

    • WOW, great work Mrs. Ross’s Class! Dominic and Maya, thank you for sharing the cool new things you learned! Being a chef is tough work! :)

      Thank you for sharing your connections, Alayna and Wonder Friend! We hope you follow your dreams! :)

      Thank you for using the context clues to form your prediction for tomorrow’s Wonder, Isabella and Sean! Great work! :)

  7. Practice cooking. I like to make peanut butter and jelly. Maybe I will become a peanut butter and jelly chef. -Will (4)

    • Keep up the great work, Wonder Friend Will! We bet you create some of the best peanut butter and jelly sandwiches around! YUM! :)

  8. How to become a chef is so easy all you have to do is practice, practice, and practice. Unless you already got the skills from God.

    • Thanks for sharing your comment, Wonder Friend Timothy! You’re right– it takes lots of practice to become a talented chef, even if you do have super awesome skills already! Practice is super important, we’re so glad you visited us today! :)

  9. Hi Wonderopolis,
    I found today’s wonder fascinating, it was really interesting to find out how many people a culinary school can have at once it must be hard to be a chef. Do any of you know how to cook gourmet meals, what are they?
    You’re awesome.

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Richard! Thanks for sharing your comment about our culinary Wonder! Some of us here at Wonderopolis enjoy cooking, baking and experimenting in the kitchen! One of our Wonder Friends wants to be a chef on TV! Thanks for visiting us to Wonder, Richard! Do you like to cook? :)

  10. Hi! I liked today’s wonder a lot! I think to be a chef you need to practice at home while you grow up. :) I think it would be super to be a chef, but when I grow up, I will probobly bena artist. Fun. Thanks for the wonder! :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :) :)

    • Welcome back to Wonderopolis, Blakeleigh! We think you make a great point– practicing at home as you grow up is a great way to work on your culinary skills! We Wonder if you like to combine art and food while you cook, Berkleigh? We bet you are great at setting a plate with food, since you have so many artistic talents! :)

    • Thanks for telling us, Joseph! We Wonder if you like to cook a certain type of food? Do you have a chef in your family? :)

    • WOW, that’s super cool, Ovi! We are really proud of you for applying for Junior Masterchef, that’s super cool! Even if you were not chosen this year, we are glad to know that you tried your best! Keep practicing in the kitchen! :)

  11. THOUGHTS/QUESTIONS
    Cooper-I cook a lot. (Italian)
    Phebe – Why did they pick that video?

    CONNECTIONS
    Kadryn – I have always dreamed to be a chef.
    Dajaynae – I cooked pigs in a blanket and hamburgers.
    Micah – I cooked cookies.

    PREDICTIONS
    DeYona – Jawbreakers?
    Corey – Jolly Ranchers?
    Piper – Ice?

    • We’re getting pretty hungry, are you, Mrs. Liles’ Class?? We think it’s cool that some of you are cooking already, some of you have culinary dreams, and we may even have some pastry chefs in our presence, too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, questions, connections and predictions: Cooper, Phebe, Kadryn, Dajaynae, Michah, DeYona, Corey, and Piper! :)

  12. I don’t know how to cook because no one will teach me I only know how to cook mac and cheese and ramen noodles.

    • Hey there, Kera, we hope you can try your hand at cooking in the future! Don’t worry, everyone starts somewhere! Mac and cheese and Ramen noodles are great places to begin your cooking adventure– pasta of all sorts is delicious! YUM! :)

  13. I know how to cook… it is fun because you get to learn new things… I can cook a lot of stuff like fried chicken, fries, mac and cheese, corn, peas… I love to eat food.

    • Hey there, Hunter, thank you for telling us all about your cooking adventures! We are glad you told us about the different types of food you have cooked in the past! What a great variety of meals! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • How do you become a chef?
  • What types of chefs are there?
  • Can you practice being a chef at home?

Wonder Gallery

946Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Did today’s Wonder of the Day make you hungry? Us too! Put what you learned to use by trying out one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Do you know what it’s like to be a real chef? Find out! Find a small, local restaurant and ask the owner to let you observe a real chef in action sometime soon. You might even get to help out a bit! Prior to your visit, watch a few food shows on television to get an idea of what to expect. You might also want to plan a few questions to have ready, so you can make your trip as educational as possible. When you’re finished, write a journal entry about what you learned. What was the most surprising thing you learned about being a real chef?
  • So you think you might want to become a chef someday? Think you’ve got what it takes to whip up a great meal from scratch? Find out tonight! Ask for help from a friend or family member and plan on taking over your kitchen tonight…or one night soon. You might need a few days to plan and prepare, of course. Your job: plan an entire meal — that includes a salad, an appetizer, a main course, side dishes, and a dessert — and cook it from scratch. And when we say “from scratch,” we mean it! No opening packages from the freezer and plopping them into the microwave! Feel free to ask for all the help you need, from planning and shopping to cutting and cooking. Cooking is always more fun when more people are involved.
  • Up for a challenge? Putting the heat to some food is the real test of being a chef. So get cooking! Head to the kitchen and prepare one or more of the following recipes that are sure to challenge your cooking abilities:

When you’re finished, take a picture of your finished meal. Post a picture or two to Facebook for your Wonder Friends to see, and be sure to tell us how everything tasted. We can’t wait to see what you prepare!

Still Wondering

Using ReadWriteThink’s Get Cooking With Words! Creating a Recipe Using Procedural Writing lesson, children participate in read-alouds of books that exemplify effective word choice, explore how to choose words to best communicate an idea, and then write explicit instructions for a recipe.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day might be a bit hard to swallow!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.