Within this article I hope to show you ten qualities that the best chefs across the world all possess. You can review this list and see if you are missing a critical trait.
Do you aspire to be a world-renowned chef? While there are undoubtedly traits that set the best talents apart from one another, most chefs share similar traits that help them hone and perfect their craft. Since the culinary profession is so difficult to break into, you are going to need some of these same characteristics if you hope to find yourself on the top of the heap one day.
The best chefs in the world are a pivotal part of the success of their respective brands and restaurants, more so than any single person in a parallel hospitality profession.
A quality chef can inspire restaurant loyalty and pique the interest of patrons. While several factors play into the successes of any single chef, several traits do stand out as universal.
Below you will find these top 10 traits you need to become a great chef yourself.
10 Characteristics You Need To Become A Renowned Chef
You might liken cooking to both science and art working together simultaneously. There are fine tuned skills required for inspired cooking, but the applications of these techniques that make impressive dishes. Some of the best chefs allow their personality and creativity to shine through in every dish that they create, something that you should also consider.
You need to be inspired to get out of your comfort zone a little bit in the kitchen and try some new things. Presentation is equally important in the world of dining, which is something that you should also allow your bold personality to take point on. The daily challenges of a chef allow for an almost everlasting stream of creative possibilities to consider.
You will find that being a chef requires a lot of hard work and determination. You have longer hours than other professions, so having a deep rooted passion for the craft is essential to your success.
This same desire is going to push you to continue honing your skills and improving, seeking out new techniques and recipes to stay on top of ever-changing trends. A chef who lacks passion is not going to be very successful. From even the seemingly most mundane tasks of food preparation and creation, passion has to play an intricate role.
3. Not A Lone Wolf
You can liken this trait to any successful sports team in history. With every player on the team working together for the same goal, and doing their individual job the best they could, the team found success. You can use this same approach to working in the kitchen, even with its apparent hierarchy of talent and renown, you have to appreciate your role in the team and the importance of working well with others.
You are never going to be alone in the kitchen. You will find that there are always going to be aides and helpers aplenty from the very first day to the last. Every day you will rub elbows with prep cooks, chefs de partie, boulangers, potagers, sous chefs, executive chefs and more. Your ability to work will all of this added assistance can make or break your rise to top tier success.
4. Grace Under Fire
You might not realize just how crazy and hectic it can be to work in a busy restaurant. This is where having a cool head amid immense pressure is an invaluable skill.
While it might be easy to get overwhelmed, you have to command the emotional aspects of a stressful work environment. Honing your techniques and having more confidence decreases time in preparing ingredients and plating orders, allowing for less stress overall.
You might find that the stress and heat can get to you if you are an island out there by yourself. Try to get involved in the shared camaraderie of the workplace that is common to kitchen staff. These ties can help pull you through particularly stressful experiences.
5. Able To Take Criticism
Especially as a new chef, everyone is going to have an opinion about your food and not all of those opinions are going to be good. Even the greatest chefs in the world have something to learn still, and this is accomplished through processing criticism.
You cannot shy away from what people have to say, and instead, choose to turn it into something you can learn from and modify in the future to be better. Chefs are always changing their recipes and techniques to accommodate constructive criticism that is founded.
You can use these instances as an opportunity to see something you otherwise wouldn’t and improve yourself so that you can remain at the top of your game. You need to be ready and willing to change your style and delivery to accommodate your workplace and the diners that choose your restaurant.
6. Detail Oriented
From the creation of a dish to the plating of the food, attention to detail is a critical component. There is a science to cooking, and if recipes aren’t closely tended to, they can easily go awry. Plating and presentation also require a chef to be a bit of a perfectionist.
The smallest of details from garnish to a singular rogue hair present in food could ruin a perfect dish for someone. You need to take note of the matters that require your undivided attention and ensure that you are tending to these to the best of your abilities. Successful chefs know how to focus.
This does not go against the need for creativity and changing your style by any means. It does, however, mean that there is an undeniable importance to paying close attention to detail.
7. Endurance and Stamina
Being a chef requires long hours often spanning from the middle of the morning through the late hours of the night, spending most of that time on our feet. This proves to be a challenge at times for even the most physically fit of chefs. However, this is also something that you need to be prepared for as well.
You have to be able to cope with the long hours and fast paced environment. In higher volume restaurants it is not uncommon for chefs to spend upwards of 12 hours a day preparing food for patrons. This is a testament to the need for dexterity and endurance, as this time is spent largely using utensils, mixing ingredients, and moving.
8. A Leader
You will find that being a chef comes with ingrained responsibilities to oversee the other staff at times and help to motivate them for the entire restaurant to be successful. This might mean taking time to train struggling employees or helping to boost morale when times are at their most stressful.
Chains of restaurants provide leadership training for those that become chefs so that they can oversee the management of the kitchen exclusively. If you are someone that owns your own business, you have added responsibilities to keep track of stock, create menus, market and manage finances.
If you seek to be a top chef, that is going to come with these same leadership requirements. This will require you to stay organized and work to ensure that every facet of your kitchen is functioning as it should for maximum efficiency. This can be even trickier with added responsibilities like stock management, budgetary oversight, employee scheduling and more.
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9. Have A Defined Palate
You might liken tasting to studying the recipe used to create the dish. This requires a great deal of concentration to pick each piece out separately and discern notes that are faint. You can get this experience from discerning what is cooking in an oven based on the aroma in the environment, or detecting the slight addition of nutmeg to a dish of croquette potatoes.
While some have a natural gift for discerning flavors and ingredients, others have to train their mind to have a good palate. While you might not be imbued with this natural ability, many of the greatest chefs in the world had to train their palate (and continue to exercise it regularly) to hone this skill.
How do you train your palate? Many chefs opt for dark tastings, which begin at the simplest of ingredients to eliminate all distractions except for the taste and inflections of each ingredient.
10. Aimed At Cooking Your Best All The Time
There is no great chef anywhere on the planet that does not seek to provide their best dishes each and every time they prepare something. From choosing the finest ingredients to the latest techniques, quality is king.
Every single chef you have ever seen or recognize commits themselves to this high grade of expectation every time that they step foot in a kitchen. You should never skimp on the quality of the food you prepare, even when you must be mindful of budgetary limitations. This is where instead, you will utilize your creativity to still get the finest ingredients but present them in a way that does not press on the ceiling of your financial overhead and still dazzles the patrons.
If you have any further questions or comments about this list of 10 important traits to be a great chef, feel free to drop me a line in the comment box below.