When starting any career, it's always super helpful to gain some advice from those who have experience and know what to expect.
We have spoken to fifteen experienced chefs, and here is their advice on what they think anyone considering a career in hospitality should know.
Fairley Wijesinghe – Hospitality Chef Manager in Health & Aged Care
Hospitality - some of us are born with it; others need to cultivate the art of providing and serving the customer whose expectations should not just be met but raised beyond their expectations.
These skills can be taught; however it needs to be fostered and rewarded by the employer, management and supervisory staff.
Drew Dawson – Chef at The Ned
Write everything down; nothing more valuable than a notebook full of recipes. Learn as much as you can from as many different chefs, soak in the styles, techniques and different ingredients. Listen, watch everything and work hard; it will pay off in the end.
Joshua Evans - Head Chef at Baxter Storey
This is a very rewarding career as long as you give 110%. It is not for you if you're afraid of hard work or long hours - it is an industry that you will either sink or swim in.
There are plenty of opportunities out there; it's about finding the right place for you that will help you to keep learning and will challenge you to be a better chef every single day.
You can never stop learning!
Kevin Davis – Chef at Prego
For any young chef, the best piece of advice I can give is to go and learn under a more mature, experienced chef - one who may not necessarily have won any awards but someone who has been consistent and innovative throughout his career. Someone that keeps a calm level head when things start to go wrong, and nurtures talent rather than berate inexperience.
I would also suggest a small establishment with no more than 70 covers so that time can be spent educating a young chef without the added pressure of high numbers. It also goes without saying; a good quality establishment would be a good starting place, although one with lower quality is also educational in the respect that it can show you the WRONG way to do things.
In order to progress, I would also advise not jumping about too much or chasing the big bucks. If you are serious about a career in the industry, then learning your trade is far more beneficial than chasing the money. Quality over quantity if you like.
Most important of all is to learn from your mistakes. That is how we, as chefs and as human beings learn to be better both in the workplace and outside the workplace.
Deniz Ahmet Köse - Self Employed at Deniz Ahmet Köse Ltd as a Hospitality Consultant, Cater & Chef Patron
Love what you do and do not count the time that you spend in the kitchen. Respect yourself so always be sharp in the kitchen, and respect your chefs - do what they say! Respect the ingredients, so use them as efficient as you could, try not to waste. Finally, respect the guest, so always plate their food nicely and as it requested by them
Yes, proud of yourself - that’s important - however, be humble, do not talk about yourself everywhere and let people talk about your food because your job and what you do is the reflection of who you are.
Be a team player because this is a strong team play! Don’t be late for work. Arriving 15 mins before the shift is on time, arriving on time is late and being late is unacceptable. Always be honest about anything and everything.
Chris Brown – Sous Chef at Sir John Fitzgerald
Basic skills and techniques are the building blocks of everything. Make sure you can do them to a high standard, and your dishes will be better as a result.
Paul Harris – Executive Head Chef at Hogarths Hotels
To a chef just starting out, I would advise them to keep their head down and focus on their job they have been given, bearing in mind there are a lot of skill-full chefs out there willing to teach new chefs who show the right attitude don't mess about.
Andrew Scott – Development Chef at Miele Great Britain
So I would say to any young chef is find a head chef that you get on well with. Put your head down and learn every section in that kitchen. Establishing the basics of our craft is so important for confidence and development in our work. There is no need as a young chef to job hop every 12 months, learn the foundations in a good kitchen under a decent chef, and you'll go far.
Roger Guy – Chef and Manager at Aspens Services Ltd
Having recently taken over a new kitchen, my thoughts this week have been directed towards the importance of teamwork in any kitchen. The best head chef should ensure that they settle their brigade/team as a priority. It is important to remember that the success of any kitchen is dependent on the cohesion of the team from KP to Head Chef - each and every role is vital and should be treated as so.
It is also hugely important for the chef to engender an atmosphere of calm in the kitchen, the idea that a loud and brash chef runs an effective kitchen is best left to history or TV dramas. The real test of a quality kitchen is calm and control and the all-important attention to detail. This should be married with the desire to pass on knowledge and help all members of the team achieve their full potential. This, in my opinion, is a vital part of a successful kitchen and must be as important as ingredients and culinary still.
Kyle Greenwood – Sous Chef at Peace and loaf
Head down and work hard. Complete every job as best as you can and then ask for another. Build a skillset and write everything down. Ask questions and learn to employ yourself. Be self-disciplined and motivate others around you! Be you and be the best you can be.
Lee Freemantle – Head Chef at Loungers Plc
As the famous quote goes, "when you replace 'why is this happening to me' with 'what is this trying to teach me' everything shifts."
You work in an environment where you are surrounded by driven, respectful chefs who want to teach and help make your pain less rather than more! Always have a standard and never drop below no matter what the actual job doing! Enjoy it - service, when nailed, is an awesome feeling!!!!
Francis Ubah - Commis Chef at Fuller's
If you love cooking, then you need to start building your career as a chef. You can develop your cooking skills and knife skills by watching how top chefs cook in cooking shows. Cooking is all about experimenting, so you need to create your own recipes.
You need to be passionate, enthusiastic, brilliant, and fast to satisfy customer needs. Additionally, you don't need a certificate to become a chef, but you can attend a culinary school to help you get a job in the restaurant and food service industry.
Francesca Allegra - Sushi Chef
I'm going to share my experience as a junior sushi chef. I started this adventure at the beginning of September. Since the first day I have been told "this is not a school you have to work", and that's what I have done so far.
I've been working very hard, and I have been pushed a lot, but despite all your effort, there will always be someone not happy and ready to judge. This morning I received a call from my manager, where I have was asked to come for a chat, and inside I was dying, I believed I was doing something wrong the day before.
Fortunately, today I have got my contract and a good increase in my salary. What I advise is to try not to feel angry or sad, because you have a goal, and also because of these people you are going to be successful.
Thomas Greig – Head Chef at Noble Inns
If you really want to become a chef, then the best advice I can give you is to be patient. It won’t come overnight, and honing those skills and your style will take time.
Picking the right place for you is also crucial. You don’t want to have a million jobs on your CV, because as an employer myself, it’s worrying seeing that you’ve had 5 jobs in a year.
Always listen; don’t be foolish enough to think after a year that you know it all; even after 20 years I’m still learning.
Stephen J. Moir – Culinary Instructor at Middlesex County Vocational and Technical Schools
As a chef and culinary educator, I have an unique perspective. The one common thread is to show an eager work ethic. As chefs, we can teach almost anyone to cook, but the ones we really like to work with are the ones who show up early, take in knowledge like a sponge, are organized and willing to take on any task.
• Work clean
• Work organized
• Work till the job is done