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Cooks preparing cold platters .

Cook is the name for a person who prepares food. It is a training occupation in Germany , Austria , South Tyrol and Switzerland .



In Germany, cooking is an apprenticeship that normally requires three years of professional training . The job title “cook” may only officially be used by those who have passed the training. As a non-protected profession, however, anyone is allowed to work, even without training - but at best they may call themselves "cook" in colloquial language, not officially. However, the laws on food production and food processing must always be observed. The health card is also mandatory, as is the case for everyone working in the food sector .

For the apprenticeship as a cook, no specific school or vocational training is required, so it can be learned without a secondary school certificate, for example. Under certain conditions (good academic performance, retraining , secondary school leaving certificate , high school diploma ), an apprenticeship period can be shortened upon request. Employers and vocational schools must agree to this. In these three years, which take place in a company and in the vocational school, you learn not only cooking but also other important organizational and commercial skills and knowledge that have to do with the kitchen. Important subjects for a cook are, for example: nutrition, goods science and storage as well as hygiene.

Since cooking is not a craft profession , the chambers of industry and commerce (IHK) monitor the applicable training regulations - in contrast to the related professions of baker and confectioner , for which the chambers of crafts are responsible. Overall, the profession of cook makes up 39 percent of all training contracts concluded in the catering industry .

If a cook wants to train in his profession, he must successfully pass an examination according to the trainer suitability regulation . In addition, every cook can further specialize; For that there are different possibilities:

  1. as a master craftsman in a "neighboring" profession such as baker ,
  2. as a master craftsman with a master craftsman examination before the Chamber of Commerce (more precisely: master chef ) or
  3. as a hotel business economist (more precisely: state-certified hotel business economist with training qualification ).

In large kitchens, the chef leads a team of chefs, his deputy is the sous chef . A rental chef comes to the client's home and cooks there.


The three-year training also takes place in the dual training system at the corresponding vocational schools and at training companies in the hotel and hospitality industry, in large kitchens or canteens. According to the law in Austria, the completion of nine years of compulsory schooling is sufficient as a school requirement. Most applicants, however, have completed secondary school and / or polytechnic school.

The training content and requirements are very similar to those in Germany or are based on the job description. Austrian apprentices finish their training with the final apprenticeship examination , which consists of a practical and a theoretical part. The related apprenticeship as a catering specialist can be completed with a shorter apprenticeship period. Many vocational schools in Austria offer training courses in gastronomy that can be credited. In addition to technical specializations, chefs in Austria can take training courses to become a foreman for bio and food technology.


In Switzerland, the basic vocational training is called Koch EFZ ( French Cuisinier CFC , Italian Cuoco AFC ). The training lasts three years. Budding chefs attend vocational school one day a week or two five-week block courses twice a year. The inter-company courses take 20 days over 5 semesters. The subject-specific deepening of a foreign language is part of vocational school teaching. The related basic vocational training to become a diet cook is based on the Koch EFZ .


In South Tyrol, training as a chef takes 3 years. Admission requirements are an age of 15 - 24 years as well as the final diploma of the middle school. Apprenticeship contract and practical training in a restaurant, hotel or guest business, the theoretical block lessons take place in the vocational school, then the training is completed with the final apprenticeship examination. Then there is the opportunity to attend a year of specialization to become a specialist in the food industry with a focus on patisserie (4th year). The possibility of further training is a specialization for the diet kitchen , corresponding courses are offered at the hotel management school Kaiserhof in Merano . For self-employment and the opening of a catering business, a corresponding qualification is required through the Chamber of Commerce in Bolzano. In the second and foreign language (Italian and English), the budding chefs learn how to prepare dishes from classic, national, international, regional and traditional South Tyrolean cuisine, as well as to explain the historical, cultural and social background of the origins of South Tyrolean cuisine.


A cook from the second half of the 19th century

The art of the cook to prepare the most tasty, easily digestible, nutritious and also healthy dishes from food by boiling, frying, steaming or other processes had already reached a high level in antiquity. Since, according to the ancient view, good nutrition was directly related to health, the cook often worked with doctors.

The culinary art came to Greece from the Asian countries and then to Italy . Under the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius there were already schools of culinary art. In ancient Rome, cooks were mostly slaves, mostly Greeks, who were taken prisoners of war. Cooks were popular and expensive, and the prices paid for good cooks were extremely high.

In the Middle Ages , the kitchen was particularly cared for and developed by the monasteries . Modern culinary art comes from Italy (around the 16th century ) and was introduced to France from there by Catherine de Medici , who took her own cooks to France when she married Heinrich.

At the court of Louis XIV. Which reached French cuisine its first bloom. The most famous chef of the time was François Vatel , who killed himself when at one point he was unable to cook adequately for his reign. With the end of the limitless willingness to spend by the nobility and royal court, who paid no taxes, as a result of the French Revolution , the cooks had to find new sources of income. They opened restaurants in which the wealthy bourgeoisie frequented. In the 19th century, French culinary arts therefore recovered from revolution and crises. The rising bourgeoisie gradually democratized the kitchen with successes and setbacks.

For many decades the most famous chefs often came from France. Thus Bocuse , the Troisgros brothers, Marc Haeberlin all student of Fernand Point . They propagated a kitchen that transformed fresh, high-quality food from the regions of their own country into cleverly arranged, tasty table delights. The nouvelle cuisine was based on similar ingredients as the diet cuisine : vegetables, steamed meat, little fat. Bocuse's pupils, such as Eckart Witzigmann, also spread this teaching in Germany.

job profile

After completing vocational training, the trained chef works in various positions and can specialize in a sub-area over the years.


The four main items in the classic kitchen are:

The range of tasks of the four main kitchen posts is complex and can be further subdivided in the case of large kitchen brigades, so that specializations are possible and useful. The further subdivision of items depends on the type of catering (hotel, restaurant or canteen), the form of the food offer (banquet, buffet, à la carte) and the specializations (gourmet restaurant, brewery, fish dishes).

A classic breakdown is as follows: The appetizers and starters are prepared by the guardian. The Saucier is assigned to be the chef or sous-chef with a focus on the main courses. His preparatory work is done by the entremetier. The final dessert is created by the pastry chef.

Another common division of the kitchen brigade is the equality of saucier and poissonnier. This is the case when high quality fish and meat are being prepared at the same time and the cooking times are too different. In this example, even the entremetier can be omitted, and the head chefs cook their side dishes themselves.

Professional position

In the kitchen hierarchy, the chef is supported by a deputy chef (sous chef), who takes over individual tasks from him in the event of a substitute. The other kitchen brigade is organized into individual kitchen posts. The head of the post (Chef de Partie) and the deputy head of the post (Demichef de Partie), as (old) journeyman, are responsible for their specific area of ​​responsibility within the kitchen. Following the organizational structure is the fully trained young chef (Commis de Cuisine) and the apprentice chef (Apprenti de la Cuisine).

Promotion qualifications


In addition to the specializations, the chef can equip his profession with further training or IHK advancement training, such as:


In Switzerland, there are various advancement qualifications for trained chefs as part of higher vocational training. Probably from 2021 it should be possible to take the professional exams without being able to cook meat and fish .

Professional examinations :

  • Head chef
  • Gastro operations manager

Higher technical exams (HFP)

  • Dipl. Chef
  • Dipl. Head of Community Gastronomy

Higher technical School

  • Dipl. Hôtelier / Restaurateur / HF


Promotion opportunities for South Tyrolean chefs:

  • technical and practical management of the department after further skills development acquired through professional qualification
  • Kitchen master
  • Diet cook.

Other areas of application

In addition to catering, chefs also work for private clients. While rental and traveling chefs work for a limited time, a private cook is part of the house staff .



  • Cornelia Geissler: cook. Preparation for the final exam. Publishing house Gehlen. 2001. ISBN 3-441-86116-7
  • Hermann Grüner: Exam book cook / cook. Examination areas technology and inventory management. Pfanneberg, 2004. 383 pages. ISBN 3-8057-0522-0
  • FJ Herrmann, Thea Nothnagel, Dieter Nothnagel: Textbook for cooks. Subject levels. Verlag Handwerk und Technik, 2004. ISBN 3-582-40055-7
  • Volker Wilsch: Success in the practical test cook. Matthaes publishing house. ISBN 978-3-87515-011-7
  • Hermann Grüner, Reinhold Metz, Michael Hummel, Heiko Antoniewicz, Karl-Heinz Schandl: The young cook. The young cook , Fachbuchverlag Pfanneberg, 2009, ISBN 978-3-8057-0606-3
  • Hannes Finkbeiner: Training and career in the hotel and catering industry. Matthaes Verlag, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-87515-050-6
  • Klaus Maack u. a .: The future of the hospitality industry. Employment prospects in the German hospitality industry , Düsseldorf, Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, 2013. ISBN 978-3-86593-068-2

Web links

Wiktionary: Koch  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Cook  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Chefs  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Proportion of chefs in the training statistics in Baden-Württemberg 2005 ( Memento from March 12, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (pdf)
  2. Koch Training Ordinance ( Memento of the original from January 21, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 45 kB) of the Austrian Ministry of Economic Affairs, valid since 1994 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. Further education information from the Institute for Economic Research in Education (BIC) accessed on August 9, 2010
  4. Reform of the basic education "Koch EFZ / Köchin EFZ" (PDF; 821 kB)
  5. Südtiroler Informatik AG | Informatica Alto Adige SPA: Professions and training | Training, study and career advice | State administration | Autonomous Province of Bolzano - South Tyrol. Retrieved April 12, 2019 .
  6. a b Vocational school cooks curriculum according to learning fields. In: Retrieved April 13, 2019 .
  7. Stefan Häne: The compulsion to eat meat and fish falls. In: . April 5, 2019, accessed May 15, 2019 .