A culinary chef is anyone that makes their living in the culinary arts; a very broad spectrum of job descriptions. Some examples would include caterers, restaurant and hotel chefs, and bakery and pastry chefs. Using the loosest interpretation, anyone who cooks and prepares food & drink for a living can be called a chef. However, in everyday usage, chefs that are not working in very upscale, professional kitchens are usually referred to as cooks. Most chefs have some specialty or preferred area of work, though it may take time for a chef to settle into a particular niche.
Frequently, the chefs that are in the highest demand are the ones that are skilled in a great many areas of preparation, with many skill sets that help to coordinate a kitchen. This career is a good choice for the very motivated person who enjoys a challenge and an active workplace, day in and day out. Long hours are almost a given for the average kitchen chef, and working late hours is very common as well. There are over 550 cooking schools in the United States alone, and more and more employers are expecting academic success from their prospective employees, especially in a tight economy. Of these, just under 70 schools have been accredited by the American Culinary Federation. Most schools offer a range of practical courses (cooking, prep-work, kitchen maintenance and organization) and specialization courses, for those with an eye towards the more lucrative chef work, such as pastry chef and regional and ethnic cuisine experts. Being a chef you would have to try many different foods.