A vegetarian chef is a professional cook who prepares meals that do not contain meat and, in some cases, other animal products. This type of chef may work in a restaurant, a private kitchen supported by an organization, or as a personal chef for one or more clients. Not all vegetarian chefs are themselves vegetarian, but they are proficient in cooking without meat. In some cases, a vegetarian chef may also be adept in preparing meals in accordance with various degrees of vegetarian philosophy, such as veganism.
While many people do regularly consume meat, many others do not. This may be due to a philosophical opposition to meat eating, health reasons, or religious observance. In many places, a talented vegetarian chef can be in high demand, even if the majority of the population regularly consumes meat. In the United States and the United Kingdom, for example, meat eaters are in the majority, but many people adhere to a vegetarian diet or at least appreciate the availability of vegetarian meals.
The training of a vegetarian chef varies. Some may receive training through a professional chef's school and learn how to cook with meat and other animal products. These student chefs may be able to take elective courses in vegetarian or vegan cooking or may complete an internship at a vegetarian or vegan restaurant. Some cooking schools specialize in training chefs in vegetarian cookery as well. Other options for education include specialized cooking workshops and continuing education courses.
Many restaurants are completely vegetarian or offer a vegetarian menu, and so may be in need of a vegetarian chef or a chef who is capable of producing both vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals. In some cases, a person may be hired to work as a personal chef for a vegetarian or vegan client. These professionals may prepare food in a client's own kitchen or may prepare meals in a separate, commercial kitchen and deliver the meals to their clients.
As many people are becoming aware of food sensitivities and allergies, a vegetarian chef may have to become very creative in his or her ability to develop and adapt recipes. Clients and customers may eliminate additional foods and food groups from their diets, which can require the chef to prepare meals with even fewer ingredient options. For example, a vegetarian chef may have to prepare meals for a client who is both vegan and gluten-intolerant. As such, a chef who specializes in vegan and vegetarian food needs to spend time familiarizing himself or herself with appropriate substitutes for common cooking ingredients as well as safety standards when cooking for those with allergies.