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You love to cook. Everything about food, prep and presentation fires your culinary creativity. You’ve always daydreamed about running a commercial kitchen that earns three Michelin stars.
Learning how to become a successful chef isn’t easy. Moving up in this demanding field takes determination. With the right balance of chef skills and qualities, you can do it. These 10 power tips can help.
What Are the Skills Needed to Be a Chef?
You have what it takes to be a chef. You choose ingredients carefully, prep with precision and cook with confidence. These three skills are just as important to your success.
1. Organizational Prowess
Commercial kitchens operate in a state of controlled chaos. The ability to keep your culinary skills organized under pressure keeps the busiest service from going off the rails.
2. Multitasking Muscle
This is one of those requirements for becoming a chef that gets easier with practice. Over time, multitasking through a hectic shift seems normal. You can handle everything without thinking twice.
3. Absolute Attention to Detail
Produce is perfectly fresh and precisely trimmed. Cooking is timed to the minute, and dishes are plated with an artful eye. Skillful attention to detail is critical to guest satisfaction.
What Are the Qualities of a Good Chef?
An important part of knowing how to become a great chef comes from recognizing your best qualities. Successful chefs all share several characteristics that help keep kitchens under control.
4. Strong Team Player
Your role as chef includes working shoulder to shoulder with everyone in the kitchen. As a team player, you always contribute to the positive energy it takes to finish a great service.
5. Level-Headed Manager
You keep your crew on track with a firm hand and professional respect. Under your direction, back of house consistently operates with maximum efficiency. A solid management style is always an appreciated chef talent.
6. Good Business Sense
Basic accounting isn’t a challenge. You understand inventory systems, food cost control and menu engineering. Good business sense is an invaluable quality that transforms a good chef into a successful entrepreneur.
7. Dedication to Your Work
This is one of the most important personal characteristics of a chef. You’re in the kitchen because you love to cook. Everything about the foodservice industry keeps you engaged and excited. Professional pride and personal dedication to the job are some of your strongest qualities.
How Do You Develop Culinary Creativity?
Creativity thrives when you apply new ideas to established techniques. A commercial kitchen gives you working space to transform the ordinary into something special. Build on your talents for innovation with these creative tips.
8. Be a Fearless Risk-Taker
Don’t be afraid to take risks. Spark your imagination with unique items like baby iceberg lettuce. Track what does and doesn’t work. Refine the results. It’s all a part of the creative process.
9. Blend Science and Art
As a professional chef, you appreciate the science behind everything from sous vide to slow-smoked barbecue. Think of different techniques as opportunities to blend cooking basics with your culinary creativity.
10. Turn Criticism Into Inspiration
Let criticism be your inspiration. Take a close look at how you can improve. Learn from every critique. You want to make restaurant owners and customers happy. Let the critics help you exceed that goal.
Education Always Counts
Basic executive chef qualifications and skill requirements don’t vary much across the industry. Solid experience is often enough to fill out a resume. However, professional training is considered a big plus.
Most 2- and 4-year culinary programs qualify you for a number of high-paying foodservice positions. Job opportunities include chef consultants, food and beverage managers, health care dietitians and even food scientists.
We Salute Your Hard Work
The foodservice industry is very demanding, and it’s very rewarding too. We know because we’ve been a part of it all for more than 30 years. Everyone here at Hitchcock Farms salutes your hard work and professional dedication. From our fields to your restaurant tables, we’re here to serve you with our best.
Dan Holt is an experienced produce professional who started in the industry as a quality assurance inspector in the early 1990s and leads sales at Hitchcock Farms as Vice President. Prior to joining Hitchcock Farms, Dan enjoyed success in organic, specialty and conventional produce and with independent operators, regional and national chains in North America and abroad. Dan continues his passion in produce through collaborative inspiration and promoting healthy and sustainable food.