Could You Be the Next Superstar Chef?
Most people know that being a good cook, and being a chef, are two different things. But being a chef, and being a superstar chef, are just as different from each other.
There are certain skills that make a chef stand out from the others in this very competitive field. If you want to be a superstar chef, ask yourself if you have the following things. And if not, how you can develop these skills to build your career:
Top Notch Cooking Skills
While anyone can follow a recipe, and most good chefs can improvise a fantastic meal. It takes a truly superior chef to be able to master every technique in a stressful, tense kitchen.
You should be able to lead your sous chefs in any cooking technique or style that they come across. And you should be able to do it no matter what the chaos may be around you.
A thirst for knowledge in all the areas of cooking will be vital. Because you’ll need to be constantly learning new things to be a great chef.
As a superstar chef, you can’t wait for others to offer you the chance to learn something new, or to require you to develop a new skill. If there is a skill you want to add to your abilities, you have to be proactive about learning it yourself, however you need to.
Whether that means going to school, seeking out a mentor, or just doing a lot of practice and tutorial watching. Investing in your own skills is very important for becoming a star in the cooking industry.
A Head for Numbers
One thing that super star chefs can do is tell you at the drop of a hat. How much a plate should cost based on the ingredients and prep time that went in to each element on the plate. This takes the ability to standardize recipes and serving sizes, understand market price fluctuations, and more.
It’s something that a chef who is running their own kitchen should always be able to do to keep the kitchen running on budget. It’s also the best way to ensure that all the inventory gets used correctly to keep the kitchen on budget.
You should also apply this skill in other ways. For example, super star chefs are always collecting data on what meals and ingredients sell when. So that they can best capitalize on the trends for their kitchen.
Having a good head for business numbers is vital for keeping a kitchen successful. Especially in an industry where success is often measured in much smaller margins.
The Ability to Build a Brand
Kitchens today are more than just places that produce food. They are part of the overall customer experience of a restaurant, a hotel, or any other venue. And the chef isn’t just an invisible employee, they are a brand ambassador.
Every meal that comes out of the kitchen tells part of the brand’s story, and a good chef. – A super star chef – is someone who understands this, and understands how to use their presence in the kitchen to help build the brand of the venue.
This also means that you can’t just stay in the kitchen. But must get out there and be a public figure.
One of the things you’ll need to build a brand as a chef is a point of view when it comes to your food. You need to know who you are as a chef. And how you communicate that through your food. That doesn’t mean you stick to only one cuisine, or a specific flavour group, or any other limits.
But it does mean that people should be able to identify who created their meal when they eat it. If your point of view is strong enough, it’ll be easy for diners to see “you” in the food. Your vision for raw ingredients and how you’ll turn them into complete dishes. As well as the nitty gritty of your choice of ingredients in the first place, or the techniques you use to cook them, all plays a part in your point of view as a chef.
It will take time to develop this, and it will grow and evolve over your career. This is a good thing! But taking the time to develop a central point of view will help you begin to create a lasting impression on your diners.
The Ability to Lead with Emotional Intelligence
You’ve seen celebrity chefs on the TV yelling at their staff and making waves, like rude bulldozers that stop at nothing to get the job done. But this isn’t how super star chefs really succeed in the industry.
Those shows are designed that way to get viewers. In the real world, it is very important for the chef to be able to lead the kitchen in a way that keeps everyone motivated. Developing good emotional intelligence to relate to the people around you is critical.
Operating a kitchen can be a chaotic nightmare. Or it can be a finely tuned machine. In order to keep everyone on the same page, they all need to feel as though their part is important and valued. This means that you, as the chef, must work to provide them this feeling of value, and that means using emotional intelligence.
Not everyone feels valued in the same ways. Some people thrive on more discipline and clear expectations, while others need recognition and freedom to make errors.
A High Standard for Excellence
While it’s important to see what each part of your kitchen needs and offer it to them as best you can, it’s also critical that you set and maintain a very high standard. To be a superstar chef, you need to stand out from the crowd, and that means that you can’t afford to let anything less than excellent out of your kitchen.
But a high standard for excellence starts at the top, with you. You need to ensure that you are doing everything up to your own standards the first time, and then hold your team accountable to that.
This does mean that you’ll need to be the hardest working person in the entire building. But if you want to be a super star, you’ll have to put in that work.
And if you don’t want to put in the work, then there’s a good chance that a chef who simply showed up more than you will eventually outshine you.
Good Organizational Skills
You likely already know that chefs must be extremely organized. Everything must be in its place for the kitchen to work. But this goes beyond the kitchen and into other areas of your life. If you want to be a super star, you need to be systematic with everything.
You should always be looking for ways to do things more efficiently, with more productivity, and without sacrificing quality. Organizing your time will be particularly important as a super star chef.
You’ll have to find ways to balance cooking with brand building, for example. And you will also need to be a leader in the kitchen, at the same time as you are working to provide a great diner experience. You’ll be wearing a lot of hats, so keeping all your tasks and time organized carefully is essential for managing it all.
The Ability to Grow with Circumstance
One thing that all chefs must do is pay attention to the circumstances that are changing the way people eat. Everything from politics to pop culture affects the way that humans eat, so you have to keep an eye on how the industry is being shaped.
Food trends and cooking styles are important things to keep tabs on, but also pay attention to things such as the economic climate. This could impact things like the cost of your ingredients, the ability of diners to consume certain dishes, and more. You’ll have to be able to predict how shifts in the big picture will impact your kitchen.
And as you predict these things, you must be able to grow and change with the diners. If you are so rigid in your planning that you can’t change your menu or learn a new technique to better suit what is in demand at the moment, you won’t be able to break free of “chef” in to “superstar chef” realm.
Become a Superstar Chef
Developing your career beyond the moment you first put on your chef whites takes time. But if you have a strong vision for what you want to say with your food, and great business sense, you could very easily become the next superstar chef.
Many new chefs don’t realise the importance of their non-cooking skills. Being a good business person, and being able to develop an excellent brand story, are vital for becoming a super star.
So while you are learning all the cooking techniques that will draw diners to your food, be sure that you are also considering the other skills you need to become a superstar chef.