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What can i do to become a great chef.

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Lenard’s Answer

This is just my opinion so take it to heart. What ever you choose to do in life it is always better to gain as much knowledge as possible in order to make good decisions. This includes being a chef. You should immerse yourself in everything culinary. Ingredient knowledge, cooking techniques, food science, organizational skills, business knowledge, even getting along with others and developing relationships all count. Read cookbooks from successful chefs, watch videos on you tube of people cooking in different countries. Taste everything, different foods and individual spices to increase your taste pallet. Knowing cooking techniques will help you decide how best to utilize ingredients. Building good relationships with your colleagues so you can share experiences with and purveyors who can help with ingredients. Do as much as you can and practice what you learn. Experience is the best teacher.

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Sam’s Answer

I agree with everything that Lenard & Linda have stated and would add that keeping an open mind to what your culinary style and or cuisine will open up your opportunities. Also, there are some things you may not like and that's ok, but whatever you do like...explore it and experiment. One of the things that I have noticed more recently is the ability to create Fusion. Bring in and blend cultures, flavors, ingredients, etc..., you could be amazed at what is created from this. Sure, there will be stumbles along the way, but keep on creating. The other thing you can do to add to your arsenal, is people. Go out and meet people that work in your profession or do what you do and talk to them and see what inspires them. In this field you can always ask those that do it everyday, like your own family or others. Some of the best cooks are the moms, dads, grandparents, etc...

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Linda’s Answer

I agree with Lenard. Experience is always the best teacher.

I am, though, a proponent of attending culinary school. You'll learn how to work in a professional kitchen. You'll gain valuable technique that will benefit you for your entire career. You'll begin the process of establishing early professional relationships. Research and choose culinary schools very carefully, evaluating the cost with what are low industry-wide salaries.

Immerse yourself in all things culinary. Your entire career will be a learning experience that will benefit you and your co-workers.

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Dada’s Answer

Hi Kalani :)

Cooking — You should be the best cook in the building at any given time. If your line cooks or sous chefs have questions or are unsure about a technique, you need to be there to help them along. This doesn’t mean you have all the answers, but you’ll certainly uncover more the longer you spend in the kitchen, honing your craft. Until you master the technical craft of cooking in heated, tense and stressful situations, no one, not even your staff will take you seriously.
Vision — One of the most important things an artist does is see things that don’t yet exist, and finds ways to bring them to life — that’s what we do through our food, our menus, and our restaurants. Having a vision can be scary though because we must then put ourselves out there, and act on that vision. It’s scary because we don’t know how our customers, bosses, and employees will respond. Regardless, this is what makes us artists, and part of what gives people a reason to believe in us, but to do so takes clearly articulating that vision so one’s team has a clear view of where they are going.
Knowing The Numbers — If you can’t cost a dish out in your head within fifteen to twenty seconds — you aren’t a chef. I truly believe that. This indicates that you clearly haven’t spent enough time costing out menus, mastering recipes and plating dishes. You need to know how much each plate of food costs, so that you can then price out a menu. But, that’s only part of the numbers — you need to be able to standardize recipes, cost out labor, manage inventory, try to cut back on inventory when times are tight, and the list goes on and on.
Systematic — Most cooks are I think, by nature, disorganized and cluttered as hell, allowing for our ADD side to often get the best of us. Over time though, we realize that to become a better cook, we have to organize our time and stations better. We have to create recipes and processes that put our teams in the best position to succeed. You need to always be looking to make things more efficient and more productive without sacrificing quality.

Good Luck!

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Michael’s Answer

Work hard. It will pay off. Read everything. Stage in every great restaurant that will have you. Working for free in a great kitchen is an investment in your learning process.
Learn every station on the hot line, including garde manager. Cold production and prep are your foundation.
Save your money. Don't buy stuff. Travel. Eat. Taste.
Work. Work. Work. There is no shortcuts to becoming a great cook. Don't worry about the money. It will follow your commitment and hard work. But make sure you are paid what you deserve.
Also - learn to manage others. Being a great cook is the easy part. Leading others is the hard part. Early on, lead by example. Others will follow those who grind.
Ask questions. Take notes.
Always keep moving. Once you've learned what you can from one Chef or kitchen, look for the next challenge. Push yourself.

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Blake’s Answer

Hey Kalani,

I would recommend finding a job in a restaurant and shadowing a chef. This will help you learn the tips and trades of being a chef as you develop your own style.