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Career Test: Five Ways to Know You Will Make a Great Chef

September 19, 2009 Le Cordon Bleu Chicago 0 Comments

Considering a career as a chef requires research and self-evaluation. To help you decide if a career as a chef is right for you, answer these five questions and see how you fare.

The various titles of “chef” generally apply to more advanced roles in a professional kitchen (for example, Sous Chef, Executive Chef). Graduates of a culinary arts training program should expect to pursue entry-level opportunities and should not expect to become chefs upon graduation but are encouraged to work toward becoming a chef throughout the course of their careers. Le Cordon Bleu does not guarantee employment or salary.

Question #1 – Do you need 8 hours of sleep every night?

The work schedule and number of hours a chef may put in at a restaurant can vary greatly. It is safe to say that some chefs work very early mornings or very late nights in order to accommodate their clientele. In times where a kitchen is understaffed, then that responsibility will rest on the head chef requiring more than 40 hours of work in a week.

Question #2 – Do you prefer to color inside the lines or out?

Creativity plays a big role as a chef. You will be expected to design unique dishes that no other restaurant or chef has developed. This means you cannot just follow recipe books or what you may have learned in culinary school. Great chefs color outside the lines and find unique flavours that are truly their own.

Question #3 – Does working with others and instructing other food service professionals sound fun to you?

In addition to creativity, chefs will work with other food service professionals including other chefs, wait staff, restaurant management, and others. An ability to work as a team and cooperate with others who have wildly different tasks requires patience and understanding.

A chef may be responsible for hiring and firing staff along with training and managing staff. While the chef may create the menu, it is his or her responsibility to make sure its original recipe is carried out every day to ensure consistent quality for restaurant customers.

If a restaurant achieves success, it is largely thanks to the chef. At the same time, a restaurant that fails is a reflection of the chef as well.

Question #4 – Can you walk, talk, and chew gum at the same time?

Multi-tasking is key to success as a chef. While one moment you may be taking inventory of your pantry and freezers, the next moment you may be counselling an employee, and then next moment yet you will be will preparing a dish of blackened salmon, rice, and asparagus.

Question #5 – Do new ideas for recipes and food combinations come to your mind without even trying?

Again, creativity is a critical component to a career as a chef. But it’s more than just going outside of traditional boundaries. A great chef understands food and drink and is able to create recipes and food combinations effortlessly, while keeping in mind the trends in the restaurant business and the tastes of customers.

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