Becoming a master chef is a dream many young and inspiring chefs want to make a reality; but what does it really take to rise above the rest and become a great chef?
Aside from the latest and greatest in chefs’ knives, cooking equipment, clothing and other essentials, being a remarkable chef takes many traits that can be learned through practice, patience, and perseverance.
Get CreativeBeing unique and making your mark are important ways to get recognised as a reputable chef. Try new things; new recipes or cooking methods, and customers will soon come back to experience your expertise. Give your dishes a flare that’s unique to your style; add ingredients or display food in ways that go against the norm by taking inspiration from different cultures, cooking style or even abstract influences such as nature and art.
Pursue your PassionPassion gives you the natural drive and motivation you need to progress and succeed as a professional chef. Working in demanding and fast-paced kitchens can be stressful and taxing, so if you’re not passionate about food and excelling as a cook, you’re probably not going to. Don’t be afraid to voice your new ideas and try out new things, let your passion be the engine of your career and you’ll soon find yourself working in your dream job.
Practice, Practice, Practice...Even with all the passion and creative flare in the world, if you don’t practice, you won’t get better. If you work in a commercial kitchen you will easily be able to practice and hone your skills, but practicing at home in your spare time is a must if you really want to push your limits. Practicing at home also gives you freedom to try things you may not be able to at work, such as displaying food in different ways or combining different styles to create something. Practicing your techniques can speed up your food prep and help you to find new ways to create dishes, making you a master chef in any kitchen.
It Pays to Pay AttentionWhether you’re preparing a 5 person seafood platter or a delicate, hand crafted dessert; paying attention to the details can transform the average dish into an extravagant plate that looks as good as it tastes. A small smudge of jus can ruin an otherwise perfect dish, so making sure you’re careful and always seeking perfection will ensure customers love your food. Becoming a great chef starts when people recognise your name for perfection, and can only mean good things for you and your restaurant. Dealing with the details also means never settling for a taste that doesn’t excite your taste buds, so keep working on your creations until you’re fully satisfied with the result; ‘Think with your taste buds’ – Viv Allman-Neal.
Team PlayerWorking in a kitchen can be a stressful, tiring and fast-paced experience, and you’ll need to do everything you can to stay on top of your workload and beat the pressure. Working as a team not only helps you bond with your fellow chefs, but also reduces the workload each individual needs to do. Helping out a colleague when they’re struggling will keep the food flowing and reduce the risk of orders backing up or customers getting agitated, furthering the reputation of you and the restaurant you work for. Understanding that you are part of a larger food prep team will help you and your team to work harmoniously, improving the quality of the food you produce.
These 5 traits are not the be-all and end-all of being a great chef, but they are an important place to start when beginning your career as a professional chef. What traits do you think it takes to be a master chef? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!