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Things needed to be a good chef..

post #1 of 44
Thread Starter 
sorry if this has been discussed before... and sorry for my english ;)
You can say im a a 17 years old chef-wannabe :D (so young compared to ppl around here no?)
i'm not a cooking freak, im just really happy if someone said that my food is delicious :) and i heard that the $$$ is good :rolleyes:
but.. is that reason is enough to be a chef? do i have what it takes to be a good chef?
what is needed to be a good chef?
like a sense of taste ? or a strong hand :confused:
thx
post #2 of 44
#1 requirement to be a good chef and any other job in this world is passion.
Chefs must be able to take a lot of crap;criticism and long hours (mainly standing) to name a couple. To be able to take all this, you really have to love your job. If you don't, you jobs is nothing more then a means to a pay cheque.
And no, money isn't as much as you'd expect unless you have a big name like Susur Lee, Micheal Stadlander, Jaimie Kennedy (note, all Canadians, only big names I know who don't show up on TV much).

read this thread http://cheftalkcafe.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11695 for a better perspective.
post #3 of 44
Yes, we've talked about this before, but it can always be talked about more. :)

Many of us here prefer to make a distinction between being a chef and being a cook. There are many, many cooks around, even famous ones you might see on television, who are called chefs. But Headless Chicken is right: being a chef is a calling, like being a priest or an artist -- you must feel that there is nothing else in life for you to do, nothing else that can satisfy you. Being a chef is about what you can give to other people, not how much praise or money you can make (and for most, the money is terrible :( ).

Without that passion, you can still become a very good cook, and even a good administrator, which is what people in the job of "chef" really have to be. Remember that chef means head or leader: the person who runs the kitchen. For that, you need skills in managing people (psychology), language skills, business skills, mathematics, some science, and a lot of curiosity about the world. A good sense of taste is necessary, and a spirit of adventure.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #4 of 44
As in money, what would you consider terrible? It all depends on ones perspective....
post #5 of 44
Trust, you have to be able to trust your crew. If your going to be worrying about people getting their work done, you are going to wind up with an ulcer. You have to be able to delegate. You also need to know how to prepare everything on your menu. It also comes in handy to be able to calculate costs on the fly, without a calculator.
That's about as much as I can add right now, Suzanne and Headless chicken made some great points.
Roeloff, as for the money thing, some folks in this industry get pittance compared to others, I'm making almost $10 an hour (with trade papers), and my dishboys are making $8 and they work just as hard as I do. Mind you BC has the highest minimum wage in the country.
post #6 of 44
Along with what everyone else said (which by the way is all good advice) I would add this. Change the word Chef to adult. You may not always be a Chef, so what do you need to be a good adult. An even temperment, humility, the ability to learn from those around you as well as from your own mistakes. The desire to always learn and grow. Be empathetic. Whatever you do in life, do what you enjoy, enjoy what you do. Always be yourself and climb the ladder of success on your own merits not on the backs of others.
Good luck! :chef:
My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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post #7 of 44

Passion

Hey come on guys, im getting really fed up with this passion stuff. Yes I love food and cooking but I have still got to pay the mortgage and give the best I can for my daughter, so for me its about the money.

I am a freelance chef in the UK, I basically get called into kitchens when the **** has really hit the fan. I charge a minimum of £15 per hour thats about 25 dollars an hour.

from chefsworld.net
post #8 of 44
'nuff said. If it's about the money and you like cooking but think passion is for wussies, or starving young artists, well, then you'll always be on call. Working short temps at places that are a nightmare, cleaning up the last Chef's mess (OR F & B's OR previous owner's mess for that matter...) and when you've cleaned up: food looks good, cooks know what they're doing, no funny business going on in the walk-ins, health/ fire inspector hasn't been around in almost 3 months, deliveries don't need C.O.D.'s, sales reps actually smile at you... Well, then the powers that be find you're too expensive to keep on, so they find/promote an eejit in a poofy white hat, boot you out, and then call you back in in few months, to clean up THAT mess... Gotta love it. I did, for a while...

True. you can make alot of coin this way, and you don't have to be passionate, just good at what you do, but after a few years of cleaning up other people's messes you start to wonder...

Who, me? On a rant? You're right, who needs passion?
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #9 of 44
IMHPO That's a shame tcapper. I guess if you don't need it then that's great for you. But personally the passion (or drive which is another word with equal meaning) is what made it possible to work all those hours day in and day out for months and years at a time (just an example but close to 8 months without a day off more than once and add in the fact that I held 2-3 jobs while in culinary school). The passion/drive is what made me try harder to provide the ultimate experience to my "guests". The passion/drive is what made it possible for me to strive to be better than I was and become what chrose calls a "good adult".

Not to mix words but without the passion/drive, the position is nothing more than a cook as Suzanne said!

Yeah the money keeps us and provides for us. There is no disputing the fact that we have bills of all sorts to pay. But personally I have taken the job that didn't pay as much over the one that did just to gain that opportunity or experience. Maybe it was more creative freedom or I saw the potential in the opportunity but....for me the passion/drive is what made my whole career possible. And what foodpump said too.:D (I was preparing dinner while typing)
post #10 of 44
Hello, I'm new to this and well all this talk about passion and money has me a little confused because like any other future chef I've done my research on the career ahead of me, and some say the money is not that good and the hrs. are long and very harsh. other sites say that chefs make good money and the job market it booming. I know I have the passion that is why I'm choosing my career as a chef but all the conflicting information has my head spinning. :crazy:
Sergio A.
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Sergio A.
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post #11 of 44
MY Idea of a great chef is one that has earned his merrits by working himself up the ranks, and truly values the hard work of his brothers in the kitchen evrything else is secondary.
Pain is weakness leaving the body.
http://wherechefsplay.com
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Pain is weakness leaving the body.
http://wherechefsplay.com
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post #12 of 44
I'd like to illustrate something in regards to money, or how much a Chef earns.

Q) Who earns more, the guy who designs and cuts the diamond and sets it in 22 kt gold, or the guy who sells the ring to a customer?

People who work with other people will always be top earners. This category includes all sales people, doctors lawyers, and agents. The Chef who commands a brigade of 20 will earn more than a Chef who commands a brigade of 5, simply because he has more people-related issues to deal with.

If you want to earn big bucks as a Chef, be prepared to deal more with people and less with food.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #13 of 44

The heat of the kitchen has to be in your heart!

Hello, I'm new to this forum, and I thought this was an interesting conversation. I am certainly not one to offer advice on being a chef, yet I can understand his doubt about being a good one.

Artists work tirelessly their whole lives for the persuit of perfection. What makes a person truly great is always found in their heart. If you think you can do something, and you are willing to put forth the effort, then you are off to a good start. The drive to succeed is always necessary.

If you would like to try your hand with desserts, go to my website listed below and pick up a free Classic Desserts cook book. You might find it very useful for practicing preparing pies. There are recipes for all the common pies.

Talk later. Tango
post #14 of 44
I've learned the CRUCIAL ideals a chef must embrace are:
  1. You have to have the fire under your a** to WANT to be there (do what you have to do to get the job done -- 'balls to the wall' so to speak)
  2. You have to WANT to be better than you are (constant learning -- nobody knows everything!)
  3. You MUST WANT to make a difference!! (in your own life, and the direction you point your employees and apprentices--LEAD BY EXAMPLE!!)
My $0.02:cool:
____________________________________

"...I don't want to be old, and feel alone...
...an empty house...is not a home..."
-Keane____________________________________
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____________________________________

"...I don't want to be old, and feel alone...
...an empty house...is not a home..."
-Keane____________________________________
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post #15 of 44
There are a few things a chef needs...

1) focus - you must be ready to do your best everytime you walk into that kitchen or else you will get eatin alive.
2) Kindness - if you can't learn to help others and not get angry then you will always be misserable.
3) passion - passion for creating great meals/desserts. You must like doing it so that you can do you best in all that you do.
4) purpose - if you do not know your purpose in life then you will never be happy no matter what you do. You could make great dishes your whole life and get lots of praise but if you don't know your purpose for being on this earth it all come up short and you will never be satisfied...

To God Be the Glory,
Robert
www.chocolateguild.com
post #16 of 44

To be a good chef

Trust~in yourself and the people around you, if you can't trust the people who work with/for you, then you're in trouble
Desire~ to do the best **** job possible no matter what it takes, i.e. working long hours
Passion~to create and execute the food for not only the palate but the eyes
Ability~to go with the flow..be flexible..

In the 28 years that I have been in the restaurant business I have self trained myself by asking questions, watching...at one restaurant when there was a trainer program available I learned how to do all the positions (grill, saute,fry, cold side, cutting fish) as a result I became assistant kitchen manager. It just depends on what you want, I want to be the best I can be..I can step into anyone's shoes in the restaurant I currently work and do their job as well as my own.
post #17 of 44
I trhink the word passion is so overused, and a little feminine for my taste. Maybe drive, for me. Work is something I do to receive monies so that I may enjoy my other life away from work. Chrose has it, a chef is someone who has matured in the kitchen. They have the drive to learn and be mature enough to become a conduit between the things they learn and those around him.
The most important thing a chef carries on his back is his customers. You must please them, defend them (don't let anyone short-change them), educate them, understand them, and praise them for choosing your skills over others. A customer can get good food anywhere. A chef has achieved his or her goals when the customer comes for the " dining experience".
As a customer, I can be having the highest quality food, if I don't understand the chefs personality/ style, it's just another good meal, not an experience.
This applies to all food. When a customer asks you to pick a flavor of cake that will compliment this or that, or if they make sure your label is on the box so the recipient knows where it is from, I think they understand you and your skills.
Just my 3 cents.
pan

Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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Never! Live To Work!:::::::Work To Live!::Life Is Too Short!!
Paninicakes.com

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post #18 of 44
Baka-
Can you see how passionate food people are? These replies are wonderful!

I would say you definately have to at least "like" what you are doing to be a chef. You do need good people skills- as you will have a variety of personalities and backgrounds working in your kitchen with you. You have to be committed to learn- optimal costs and varieties of cooking techniques aren't something you are going to just figure out on your own. Obviously a sense of taste- but be open to the fact that you may required to prepare items you don't even like the taste of, you just have to know how it is supposed to taste, and be able to achieve it. I guess I would say the difference I have seen in people who just "work" in the industry and people who "are" the industry is their heart- if you are a "foodie person" (my terminology- call us what you wish), you are different from the mainstream. Foodie people are giving- we seek to feed others, to give them enjoyment from our work. I think THAT is why some are just a "chef" and some are concidered masters or leaders in the industry. You have to find your own place in it.
My opinion for what it's worth.....
Bon Vive' !
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Bon Vive' !
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post #19 of 44
You have to love it and enjoying as every job. You sound enthusiastic which is a good sign. The money? it depends how hard you work. Why don't you try it. Try to get a part time job as a kitchen helper and experience it by yourself. (That's what I did when I was 15):chef:

Good luck
post #20 of 44

In my experience, being a good chef is not just about going cook school. You need experience from being a waiter, bar man and kitchen porter. You need to know the basic ingredients, kitchen equipments and good knife skills. you need to be motivated and have an eye for detail. Basic IT skills like MS office, math and communication are essential.

 

post #21 of 44

In my experience, being a good chef is not just about going cook school. You need experience from being a waiter, bar man and kitchen porter. You need to know the basic ingredients, kitchen equipments and good knife skills. you need to be motivated and have an eye for detail. Basic IT skills like MS office, math and communication are essential.

 

post #22 of 44

You can see by the strong opinions that chefs are proud people, and thats very important to remember.

when it comes to money its allways going to be tough to start with, after a few hard (and i mean hard) years you start earning enough to get you by apprentice and commis money is crap, but stick with it when you start to become junior cdp etc it gets a lil easier, the money is important because it can afford you luxurys that help take the edge off some off the stress, and also the more you earn the less you have to worry about bills etc.

to be a good chef in my view (when your starting out) you need :

1. a basic idea of what's to come , dont kid yourself, you wont make head chef over night and you wont be a ''Big name'' two days out of college.

2. be ''Kitchen savy'' this is a natural thing, chefs dont lean on worksurfaces or stand idle, if it dirty then clean it, if you havent got any prep left then help someone else allways be on the move.

3. allways prepare prepare prepare, sharp knives, a clean set of spare whites, spoons in your back pocket, make sure you have everything for service, check it, check it again.

4. listen to advice, take in critism, your not a master chef yet.

5. have stamina, this is learnt as well as natural, when i was a kid there was a 64 year old bloke that used to run rings round me in the kitchen, i was shattered after twelve hours, he was still going after 16.

6. know how to make a good ommlette

7. check that stuff again

8. remember you cant go out on friday nights anymore, your going to miss your girlfriends birthday every year, hell mostof us on here dont know when our own birthdays anymore, as for christmass lets not go there

9. try hard and keep going, your going to take a lot of shit, your going to need a thick skin.

10. date and label everything! and i mean EVERYTHING!!

11 check it again

12 and again

13 passion is important to an extent but balls, effecientcy, self motivatoin and being able to stick up for yourself is more so.

14 eat three meals a day, sleep when you can and drink plenty of water, real chefs dont drink the night before thier shift so much that they are hungover

15 never get ill

16 be a team player

17 work as a waiter and a barman, put yourself in others shoes and try and understand.

18 aim for the top, if you miss and land in the middle atleast you will be comfortable

post #23 of 44

Good luck mate by the way.

post #24 of 44

Humility.. 

post #25 of 44

Dear Chefs,

 

I really want to go to college and be a chef, but for my english class, for all seniors, we have to do a senior capstone of something we're interested in and my topic is "How Does A Chef Get A Show," and for one of my subtopics I have to interview a Chef. So if You will please take the time to answer these few questions, I'd appreciate it.

 

How do you think a chef gets a show?

 

Do they need to have a fun and exciting personality to draw in viewers?

 

What are the qualities of a good chef?

 

What skills should a good chef have to get a show?

 

What chef do you think has the best show and why?

 

 

Thank you so much and please answer ASAP or email me at:

johnsonolivia14@gmail.com

 

Thanks,

Olivia

 

 

post #26 of 44

I appreciate all contribution in here :)

 

Having people that can teach you ;) Who wants to teach you :) Who wants to see you improve if they see you want to improve :)

 

One of my collegues inspired me to read more cook books, he borrowed me one. But it wasnt just a cook book. It was a story, it had philosophy in it, it wasnt just food on paper but

a whole lot more. This book was the most interesting cook book I ever came over and hope a lot more to find.

 

To me its like we dont always know what to look for. So its good to get direction and right direction.

 

I get inspiration from watching chef programs, using youtube has helped me alot, im very gratefull for all the people who take there time to put there food creation on the web ;)

 

Getting a wet stone, a sharpener and a knife with a "saya" ( holster). Made it alot easier and more fun.

 

Preserving the energy of the vegetables while cooking it, not killing them. Let the customers see the light in the veggies.

 

Myself, I  dont try to be best, not to be competitive. That 2 minds are better than 1 is my philosophy.

post #27 of 44
Quote:
Originally Posted by newbee View Post

Humility.. 

You said it. Without it , one could never learn and grow.

Petals

Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(163 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
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Petals
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.

Served Up
(163 photos)
Wine and Cheese
(62 photos)
 
Reply
post #28 of 44

Maybe I look at it the wrong way but.. to me, if you want to be a good Chef, you first have to be a good cook. No, I dont mean understanding ingredients and proper techniques, I mean, you have to put in your work in the kitchen, on the line. People think that they can take some classes or read some books and bang they should walk around in a coat and people call them Chef. 

 

To me, and it could just be the area I'm in, but there is only 1 Chef in the kitchen, everyone else is a cook. The Chef runs the kitchen, and the cooks do what the Chef says. Being a good Chef has a lot more to do with management and understanding of how a kitchen runs, and less to do with actual cooking. Every Chef is, or was, a great cook, but not every great cook can handle being a Chef.

 

The Chef position is a position of power in the kitchen, think of a maestro leading his symphony. Getting there requires years getting your ass kicked in a kitchen as a cook, then maybe one day you could be lucky enough to be a real Chef.

post #29 of 44

Never ceasing to learn.// Patience. // Good Nerves.// Ability to work with little sleep.// Good negotiator.// To seek perfection//. Ability to be fair in dealing with and managing people//.Wanting to teach// Ability to think on the spot and on the fly. //. Know how to improvise./ /

Good at cooking should be expected of course.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #30 of 44

dont you mean your not very important thats y ur only needed when theres a chef down or someones cut there nail. cooking and becoming a chef is a carrer. u look like u need to go to the potwasher team ;-) 

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