Becoming A Better Chef: Advice please

Joined Jul 5, 2017
Hello everyone!

I'm currently doing an apprenticeship after working in the industry three years. I officially start my first year rotation in a nice steakhouse within a resort in January. I will start there and rotate through all the other restaurants over the course of my apprenticeship.

I'm looking for advice from professional chefs about how I can improve myself so I can become a better chef. I don't need cooking advice as I know I'm still at the bottom and just breaking the crust of what there is to learn, and I know I can cook at or above the level that's expected of me at this point, and know all the chefs over me enjoy having me on their team and think I'm going to go far. What I struggle with is my mind. My main problems are self-confidence/worrying, and keeping my anger in check. I get really worked up about situations where I know I'm getting thrown in the deep end, like going to a station in a restaurant I'm not familiar with, or having to suddenly run something alone when I usually have a partner/lead cook with me. My mind runs wild with everything that could go wrong and it can stop me from doing the good job I know I'm capable of. Also, I tend to get frustrated quick and keep it all inside until I end up snapping really bad on one person who happened to be the last straw. I would like to start breaking myself of these habits now so as I rise up the ladder and learn, I'm not growing or keeping bad habits that will be harder to break once I'm in charge of other cooks.

Any and all advice about staying calm during go time would be greatly appreciated!
Joined Feb 8, 2009
Set your own goals and stick to them. At this point you shouldn't be thrown into any position your not familiar with. OK, thats how it works on paper, but, not really in the real world. Shit happens in the kitchen and you need to be ready for anything. Just listen and do your best when that happens. I've been in many situations when groups of people walked out and quit. I've seen cooks get hurt, fall and rushed to the hospital during service. When these things happen everyone in the kitchen has to be all in.
The normal everyday kitchen should be handled with ease. I see many young cooks being really slow on prep. The key to being good is being organized and fast at everything.
If you want to be good at this profession your day shouldn't start when you walk through the door of the restaurant. You should bring home copy's of the menu and other material that would help you get more knowledge and be better at your position. You should know the menu front and back. If your working the fry station watch whats going on in the other stations. Know what goes on the plates before you even get a chance to move to that station in the future.
Don't follow other cooks that don't have any goals of moving up in this business. Most other cooks aren't looking to help you look better than they are. Have a thick skin and let everything roll off you back knowing you will be better for it in the end.
Stress is real had to handle for most people. We all react differently to pressure and being pushed why beyond our capabilities. The only way to handle stress is to be good at what you do. When you have all the knowledge and skills needed in your profession everything falls into place. When I have 5 catered parties going on at the sometime I have been asked many times how I can be so calm. My answer is, I have gone over in my mind many times how everything will work. I know exactly how much food is needed, how much staff is required and what time everything needs to be served. I have figured out what could go wrong and what to do if it does. So when I'm standing in the kitchen like I'm waiting for a bus It's because I have already done the party in my mind. All I have to do now is follow through and failsafe each party and keep my staff focused on what needs to be done.
To end this I would recommend to learn fast, be the best at each station, learn your cuts and knife skills and learn to relax. Look at each new learning experience as an adventure and you getting closer to achieving your goals.
Someone told be many years ago that most people who play golf always take out the 7 iron to practice with. The reason being it's a easy club to look good while hitting balls at the range. The point they were trying to make is, if you practice with the other clubs you will be a better player and have more success. Take this same idea into the kitchen. Once you know something challenge yourself at learn something else. We all tend to fall back into our comfort zone because it's a safe an easy place to be. Challenge yourself to be good and the end result with be less stress at more confidence in your profession........Good luck......ChefBillyB
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