One of the most common questions I get asked by others that want an insight into my background as a chef is where I trained and studied. It's a question that is so frequently asked, but I feel is simply the wrong one to gauge judgement of a chef's calibre or attitude to his or her trade.
Perhaps my opinion here is biased as I never went to catering college, I never trained at a cooking academy or hospitality school. Aside from obvious technical skills, I believe the most valuable thing that you can learn is the right attitude and work ethic. Without this, your career in the kitchen will be short-lived, and the team you try to build around you will lack respect and loyalty towards you.
In my early career, I didn't work for pedigree chefs or even recognised kitchens or brands. The head chefs I came across in my early career pushed on me from day one a strong work ethic and a selfless attitude towards the rest of your team. If you can earn the respect of the people around you, you will never struggle to build a team of your own in the future.
But remember that respect is just that, it is earned. You are not entitled to the gratitude and loyalty of others; you must show that you are an invaluable member of a team. Always be the one who brings a solution to the problem, not the one who always brings the problems. It is always easy to pick out and highlight negativities and flaws in a workplace or anywhere for that matter - it's the people who can see past the imperfections and have a practical and proactive approach to finding improvements that will do well.
Remember no one owes you a thing, you are not entitled to the promotion or the bigger pay packet. Show your worth. Work your heart out to prove what value you really bring, and you will not go unnoticed by those that matter.
The long and short of it is, yes to succeed in this trade you have to be a quick thinker, you have to be good with your hands, be able to pick up new skills quickly, and problem solve as you go. You must have scrupulous attention to detail and strict set discipline but never underestimate your outlook of others, your mindset and the how the people around you see you.