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Work Ethics and Business Savvy


I thought I would take a look at both sides of my life as a chef and entrepreneur. I've been doing both for 40 years now. This article is only an opinion on the changes that I have seen from beginning to the current millennium. And yes, I am going to pick on the millenials...lol


To start a short introduction to what exactly a chef is and does.

Responsibilities

  • Set up the kitchen with cooking utensils and equipment, like knives, pans and kitchen scales

  • Study each recipe and gather all necessary ingredients

  • Cook food in a timely manner

  • Delegate tasks to kitchen staff

  • Inform wait staff about daily specials

  • Ensure appealing plate presentation

  • Supervise Cooks and assist as needed

  • Slightly modify recipes to meet customers’ needs and requests (e.g. reduce salt, remove dairy)

  • Monitor food stock and place orders

  • Check freshness of food and discard out-of-date items

  • Experiment with recipes and suggest new ingredients

  • Ensure compliance with all health and safety regulations within the kitchen area

Requirements and skills

  • Proven work experience as a Chef or Cook

  • Hands-on experience with various kitchen equipment (e.g. grillers and pasta makers)

  • Advanced knowledge of culinary, baking and pastry techniques

  • Leadership skills

  • Ability to remain calm and undertake various tasks

  • Excellent time management abilities

  • Up-to-date knowledge of cooking techniques and recipes

  • Familiarity with sanitation regulations

  • Culinary school diploma preferred

In short what I would say is the primary criteria for any job is education and experience. We are living in strange times folks. As I sit here this morning in a small hotel room in Banos Ecuador, I ask myself one simple question. What does it take to become a chef, and entrepreneur? The answer, education and experience. I spent eight years working my way up to a Chef position, and another 3 years before I took a shot at business. It seems, these days that a student out of culinary school has the idea that they are a chef upon graduation, nonsense! I have major issues with the education system, and it's marketing to young minds, that this might be the outcome after 2 years of "book learning", and very little practical experience. I prefer the old school method, work first at least a year in a kitchen...then perhaps education. My eight years of pre chefdom included two apprenticeships, culinary and pastry, in addition to education in both disciplines.


What about business? Similar to the above it requires education and experience. I bought into a small restaurant with just about 10 years in the industry for $15,000 and a legal partnership agreement. My salary for the next 4 years, $1000 a month for a 90 hour work week. Yes, I lost a lot of potential income, not being a working chef, but the experience is what really counted. It cleared the way for my next business, and presented the opportunity to become an educator. I did both for the next 9 years. And now, some 15 years after starting my journey, i was earning a reasonable income. I wouldn't do anything differently! To this day, I continue to educate myself both in my culinary and profession business practices. As most of you reading this know, I operate a company that provides Private Chef Services, education and consulting. And it keeps growing and evolving.


I am of the belief that a return to a standard apprenticeship model coupled with education in blocks during the formative years is the answer. The European model of 6000 hours or three years (on the job, in varies departments) in combination with a formal education to back up the skills, is the answer. It worked well for a long time, why change it? I find myself surrounded in Canada with young so called cooks...that already know everything. I for one don't need this, I will hire a cook or chef from India or China before I will hire one these dolts.


Anyway, that's my rant for today. Have yourself a wonderful weekend.



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