Its fair to say that every nation takes pride in the quality and type of cuisine they serve up, so asking a group of chefs which country is the best place to get a job abroad will almost certainly lead to a diverse range of answers from one chef to the next. The location we as chefs choose to work in often comes down to our personal culinary aspirations, particularly what style of cuisine we strive to improve in or explore and learn about.
Some countries are particularly famous for their cuisine, and thus are the first choice for many chefs looking for jobs abroad. Italy, France, Greece, and Spain are typically thought of as the most prestigious countries in Europe where you can gain experience as a chef. The cuisine of China, Thailand, Japan, and India come with equally high regard in Asia. Elsewhere in the world, in countries ranging from Mexico to South Africa to the United States, you can find a diverse range of job opportunities that will allow you to master a unique style of cooking.
Some of the regions you may want to work in will certainly present a more challenging linguistic and cultural adaptation than others, so remember that there are many additional factors beyond culinary considerations that you should take into account when deciding where to work abroad. See our previous post for further information.
Many international chef jobs are seasonal, which can be beneficial for many reasons – for example, if you want to try out working overseas before committing to a more permanent move. Since these types of positions tend to be open for only a few months at a time, you’ll often be able to avoid the tangle of visa considerations. The nature of this temporary work will also enable you to move around frequently, gaining experience cooking in a variety of different cuisines and formats. Typically, this type of chef work is more abundant in hotels, resorts and cruise ships. Private catering services, language schools, or camps are also promising places to look for this type of chef work abroad.
For permanent chef jobs abroad competition is typically higher, especially at the head chef and executive chef level. These opportunities also tend to come with more red tape such as work permits and residential visas. However, if you have a solid CV that demonstrates your experience and culinary training there’s no reason why an overseas employer wouldn’t consider you for the position they’re recruiting for. Many employers now accept that hiring the right talent may often require bringing in overseas expertise.
Whether you choose to work on a contract or more permanent basis when abroad, international exposure can certainly accelerate your prospects and salary potential both during your time overseas and on your return to the UK. Many employers here see working abroad as a key driver in equipping chefs with the ability to deal with a whole host of challenges and opportunities that there counterparts with no overseas exposure may be less able to.
If you’re considering working abroad a good first step is to decide on location followed by undertaking web research to find out the best way to locate and apply for suitable opportunities i.e. job boards, local recruitment agency’s, direct with employer, through chef forums etc. Remember to also have an up to date CV ready, and if you don’t already, consider setting up an online portfolio to show off pictures of your best dishes. The more information you can give to a prospective overseas employer upfront, the easier you’re making it for them to hire you!