Job description: Prepare in-flight meals, work in RAF Messes and in the field under canvas, and cook for VIPs.
Pay after one year: £17,485
Joining age: 16 – 29
Usual service: 9 years
Open to: men or women
Similar civilian jobs:
Qualifications you need: 2 GCSEs/SCEs at Grade G/6 minimum or equivalent in English language and maths.
Qualifications you can gain: Apprenticeship in hospitality, including NVQ Level 2 in food preparation and cooking.
Nationality: Citizen of the UK or the Republic of Ireland, or a Commonwealth citizen since birth.
As an RAF Chef, you cover a far larger field of professional experience than your civilian counterparts: from cafeterias to five-star themed banquets in Officers’ and Sergeants’ Messes, preparing in-flight meals, catering in the field under canvas and cooking for VIPs. If you lack qualifications, you can join as an unqualified Chef and be trained at the RAF Catering Training Squadron at Worthy Down in Hampshire. If you join with qualifications, you’ll start your professional work significantly higher in the RAF’s rank and pay structure.
You’ll initially join the RAF for a period of nine years. If you’ve joined without qualifications, after a year you’ll be eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman when you pass your Trade Ability Test. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection.
The NVQ and Apprenticeship you can earn are as valuable in the civilian world as they are in the RAF – which means that whenever you decide to leave the RAF, you’ll be well placed to find a job in the hospitality industry.
Your career will start with a 10 week Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. The course is designed to help you adjust to a military environment. As well as fitness and military training, you’ll also learn about the RAF lifestyle.
If you are joining with little or no catering experience, you’ll complete specialist training at the Food Services Wing DLS CTS (RAF) Worthy Down. This 17 week course will give you an overview of catering in the RAF and the basic craft skills required of a chef. You’ll also undertake a three-day Introduction to Deployed Operations whilst at CTS During the course you will begin a level 2 NVQ Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) Diploma in Professional Cookery (preparation and cookery) which you will complete during the first year on unit, and you’ll be on your way to gaining an Apprenticeship in Hospitality. On successful completion of specialist training you’ll receive your first assignment.
You may be eligible for fast-track promotion if you already have acceptable academic catering qualifications and suitable catering experience in the hospitality industry. Before you join, however, your qualifications will be scrutinised by the Catering Apprenticeship Team. If you have the relevant qualifications and experience and if you achieve a pass rate of 80% or higher on all practical and theory Phase tests during the 17 week specialist training you will qualify for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman and will receive your first assignment.
Your first tour
For your first tour, you’ll be posted to either an Officers’ or Sergeants’ Mess – which serve food of hotel standard – or to a Junior Ranks’ Mess, which offers a wide range of high-quality meals. It’s your first experience of life on base and a chance to understand how the RAF community works.
As your career progresses, we’ll continue to train you in new skills, including management and leadership. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to complete further courses in higher culinary skills, food hygiene, and instructor duties. You’ll also receive regular training in deployed catering and food ordering, accounting and storage.