How can I improve to become a chef?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by celbrise, Sep 19, 2018.

  1. celbrise

    celbrise

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    currently 25 years old and have about 4-5 years in the industry im basically want to improve my skills drastically but i don't know how. i gain work experience but with that it's like your being told how to make things and really have no freedom to test out new cooking techniques.

    could i get some pointers/tips on 1. where to start to improve my skills and 2. some books i could read to help me along the way such as pairings, or just good reads to help me in my career.

    i want to learn EVERYTHING.

    1. butchering 2. cutting skills 3. making my own recipes etc.. i just don't know where to start.
     
  2. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Find a place that does these things and switch jobs.
     
  3. Chef_Aaron_B

    Chef_Aaron_B

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    This book is Amazing and taught me alot.

     
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  4. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Butchering - get a part time job working for a butcher.

    Improving your skills - if you can't improve at work, get a new job at a restaurant that offers food you've never worked with before.

    Making your own recipes - Sometimes, a recipe will come to you based on what ingredients you have available. Sometimes a recipe will be inspired by something you've seen or eaten. Sometimes it will come from somewhere completely unexpected. When it happens, write down the recipe and when you have time, try it out. It will likely take a few passes before you have refined it into something that's a keeper. Sometimes, though, the idea is a bust.

    If you are going about your time in the kitchen without a pad and pencil in your pocket, that needs to change. :)

    Good luck.
     
    linecookliz, celbrise and Blue carrot like this.
  5. celbrise

    celbrise

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    i have been debating that as i just got a new job but the restaurant is completely dead. within the entire shift we get about 20 orders only and majority of it is just from employee's as well. sadly the pay is pretty good for starting but their is no work. decided to quit this new job though i feel like im not learning a damn thing but "how to wash dishes" which i already do and know how to do.
     
  6. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    This is exactly why all cooks should move around and work in a lot of kitchens. They also don't have to be fine dining to learn something. I worked in about 25 restaurants moving up the ladder in this business. Each restaurant or food service gave me an opportunity to advance my knowledge of either cooking or managing people. You could learn logistics in Fast food restaurants, Logistics and different menus working in catering. You could also learn a lot just by working with different Chefs as to how they manage a kitchen. Moving around in this business for the right reasons is a good thing. I never moved for money. I only moved from one job to another if I could advance my knowledge and career. I always left each restaurant better for me being there. When you do this, expect to give whatever you need to in order to get your needs taken care of. This could mean working long hours and doing everything and anything in order to get something in return. Knowledge at this point in your career is worth it's weight in gold.

    All that being said all Chefs set up menus and train cooks to achieve their goals. I never let any cook vary from my menus unless I had a lot of trust in their skills. It's up to me to maintain quality and consistency in my food. This is why you aren't allowed to venture out and do your own thing. When you move around in this business you'll gain that experience. This knowledge will help you prove yourself to be trusted to venture out and show what you could do. In most cases this will happen with a daily special board or even menu planning with the Chef.........Good luck, I hope this helped.......ChefBillyB
     
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  7. bier chef

    bier chef

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  8. bier chef

    bier chef

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  9. bier chef

    bier chef

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    Have you ever watched the movie Highlander? Cooking and acquiring skills in a kitchen is much like an RPG. You start off as a noob and eventually become capable of fighting off an hangry crowd of 200 people in a flat sat dining room at 7pm on a Friday. The more you move around in a kitchen the more you'll learn. Good and bad. I've worked from any where to 7 course farm to table fine dining to 500 room hotels with a banquet kitchen and 30 person staff to opening frozen fries and wings and shoving them into a dirty fryer (it didn't last long but the money was great!) As for making recipes always have a notebook and sharpie. Write things down as you go. Revise the recipe until it's right and easy enough for an entry level to execute. When developing a menu try to cross utilize ingredients and prep projects. knife skills come with time. I would happily dice a 50# bag of onions with a blindfold on. That's because I've diced a metric shit ton of onions though! My last words of advice will be...Be available, be punctual, have a can do attitude, smile in the face of impending doom. Be reliable. Good luck jr.
    bier chef-
     
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  10. bier chef

    bier chef

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    Have you ever watched the movie Highlander? Cooking and acquiring skills in a kitchen is much like an RPG. You start off as a noob and eventually become capable of fighting off an hangry crowd of 200 people in a flat sat dining room at 7pm on a Friday. The more you move around in a kitchen the more you'll learn. Good and bad. I've worked from any where to 7 course farm to table fine dining to 500 room hotels with a banquet kitchen and 30 person staff to opening frozen fries and wings and shoving them into a dirty fryer (it didn't last long but the money was great!) As for making recipes always have a notebook and sharpie. Write things down as you go. Revise the recipe until it's right and easy enough for an entry level to execute. When developing a menu try to cross utilize ingredients and prep projects. knife skills come with time. I would happily dice a 50# bag of onions with a blindfold on. That's because I've diced a metric shit ton of onions though! My last words of advice will be...Be available, be punctual, have a can do attitude, smile in the face of impending doom. Be reliable. Good luck
    Have you ever watched the movie Highlander? Cooking and acquiring skills in a kitchen is much like an RPG. You start off as a noob and eventually become capable of fighting off an hangry crowd of 200 people in a flat sat dining room at 7pm on a Friday. The more you move around in a kitchen the more you'll learn. Good and bad. I've worked from any where to 7 course farm to table fine dining to 500 room hotels with a banquet kitchen and 30 person staff to opening frozen fries and wings and shoving them into a dirty fryer (it didn't last long but the money was great!) As for making recipes always have a notebook and sharpie. Write things down as you go. Revise the recipe until it's right and easy enough for an entry level to execute. When developing a menu try to cross utilize ingredients and prep projects. knife skills come with time. I would happily dice a 50# bag of onions with a blindfold on. That's because I've diced a metric shit ton of onions though! My last words of advice will be...Be available, be punctual, have a can do attitude, smile in the face of impending doom. Be reliable. Good luck jr.
    bier chef-
     
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  11. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Learning to cook doesn't have to take place in a restaurant. Learning to work in a restaurant isn't always about knowing how to cook.
    To learn to cook you can do much at home by buying the ingredients and doing it. There are youtube videos for knife skills, sauce making, butchering and just about everything else. Making mayonnaise at home or at work is the same process, just generally greater quantities in a restaurant. The same is true of most everything else. Read cookbooks of course. `
    And practice.
    There are so many pre made products now that you can work for years in restaurants and never learn how to make many products. So pick out something like pancake batter, bread, mayonnaise or chicken kiev and make it at home. In a restaurant you will do essentially the same thing only greater quantities and under the direction of the chef who may have slightly different ideas about what ever you are making. At home you learn how. In the restaurant you learn how the chef wants it done.
    Working in restaurants means learning how to work clean and neat under pressure, respecting your coworkers in high stress situations, remaining calm at all times, being organized and on top of your duties. As has been pointed out, you learn different things at different places.
    As for your current situation, I don't agree that you've learned all you can in three weeks. You have barely gotten started. You've simply learned all the obvious things. Now start looking to learn the less obvious whether you personally do them or not. Note things like storage practices, ordering, inventory, front of the house service practices, employee management, scheduling, etc. . These will change from place to place, some better than others. At three weeks you have simply taken the first step on a very long journey.
     
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  12. whitepnoi

    whitepnoi

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    The one piece of advice I got was from a former owner. She stated all you need is balls! The path that helped me was working in a scratch kitchen with minimal food waste. Working to order will hone you under pressure. Ask a lot of questions and absorb all the information from individuals around you. Last but not least juggling 2 jobs at different places for 5 years gave me great perspective and insight!
     
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  13. Chef_Graham

    Chef_Graham

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    So, I'm going to throw down my input. Being 27 years old, working the line for 4 years now.... I can give you some insight that's more at our experience level.

    I went to culinary school for a A.S. Certificate. I plan to get my masters in Hospitality.... but that's got nothing to do with being a chef or line dog. That's a personal goal. So, here's what I think you need to do.....

    There's a lot of books out there, start looking.
    Professional Cooking, Professional Chef, Flavor Bible(GO BUY IT NOW!), French Laundry cook book, Primal Cuts, Off the Hooks, Herbs and Spices.... I can go on all day. I have a huge collection of books. Some are crappy written books by somebody who shouldn't be a food writer... some are really good finds in thrift stores. Don't be scared, and just look at books. Find out what interests you in these books. Barns & Nobles has a selection where you can preview what you're about to buy.

    Experience,
    Here's the reality of life. None of these chefs will teach you this. This is something you need to learn on your own. No one was teaching me how to work a saute station, or how to sharpen my knife. I learned the hard way. Lots of reading, watching other people work, asking to help/learn, and just forcing myself into these things I wanted to learn. My father was a chef, he taught me 3 things in life. Every sentence starts with "Yes Chef", "Yes Chef, I'll have that Steak for you in 2mins chef." <--- This is how you talk to the chef, always! Never ever forget that. The second thing he taught me was how to pan flip. Told me, stand over the sink with a pan full of rice and keep pan flipping til I can do it without making a mess. It helps build your wrists up and teaches you how to pay attention when your doing that. I've watched cooks cover a stove with food by being sloppy... and good chefs will fire you over it. Also, don't bang the damn pan on the stove. You're not bam bam! Pick the up off the eye then pan toss fast, and place it back down without making a loud noise. Expensive pans are no joke. Chefs will throw something at you if you dent their pans. The third and most valuable lesson my father ever taught me, how to use a knife. Handed me a cheap walmart knife and said good luck. I had to figure out how to hone it, sharpen it, care for it, and not get cut. This is a extremely important thing to learn. I can actually hone with the knife facing me. Too many people are scared to cut their fingers doing that. If you know how to hold both pieces of equipment that knife and rod will never slip.

    Now, down to the point...
    Go make a feedly account: Add feeds like ACF, Serious Eats, Eaters, and other food blogs. Google and hunt for good blogs to follow about food. Find good youtube channels to follow, go read cook books. Who cares if it wasn't james beard awarded.... Just absorb everything you can about this industry because no one will do it for you. Also, cook! Buy equipment for home use and just cook all the time! Try recipes, tweak recipes, take notes on what things you did differently. Buy pens, sharpies, and sticky notes. You're gonna need them. Best of all, when you show up to work.

    ALWAYS, plain black non-slip shoes, black socks, black pants, white t-shirt, Sharpie, Pen, Highlighter(i prefer yellow), Tweezers in your knife roll (You may need them for basic tasks even) next to your Instant Read Thermometer, and best of all. FUCKING TELL YOURSELF YOU'RE GOING TO ROCK THAT RESTAURANT LIKE YOU'VE BEEN OWNING IT FOR THE PAST 6 YEARS, even though it's your first few weeks.

    I may be a new member, another cook trying to sling advice but read closely and remember dude. I was a teacher's aid for all my college classes(cause I already knew the stuff they tried to teach me), and I got a trial with Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, CA. I worked in Alaska for a 3 Diamond Resort... and no matter where i go, I don't talk about how i own it. Cause a great chef told me once, SHUT UP! Quit talking about how good or crappy you are. Just own it, Own it like you've owned it your whole life! Be fast, keep your head down, and own your station. When you start a project, you finish it! When you are brave enough to try and move stations, listen and watch every single detail of what the next guy has to teach you. Then Do his job 10x better than him.
     
  14. E. Dennis van Rumund

    E. Dennis van Rumund

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    You have some really good advice from the other Chefs here about techniques and such. I will offer this aspect, as a CHEF, we are asked to do the thing we avoid the most..... office work. Learn Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power point. Learn different systems like POS, Micros and SWS. Most well paying positions require a Bachelor's degree nowadays, so set yourself up for success and learn all of it.
     
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  15. Chef_Graham

    Chef_Graham

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    Well thank you. :D I appreciate the compliment. I listen a lot to what is said to me and learn from it. I also like to pass that knowledge to others. I think when I get old, I'm going to retire and teach at a college... part of wanting my masters.

    Also, DUDE!!!!!! I cannot tell you how fucking important what you just said is. My Exec Sous flat out said it himself, the only reason he's always a sous and not a chef is because he's dumb with computers. Can barely work a pos system. So, anyone reading this looking for info on being better. Listen to this guy! Learn all this stuff, take some classes at a college if you have to! JUST DO IT! becauase it'll help your career 10x more than techniques and doing your best on the line ever will.
     
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  16. jimyra

    jimyra

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    Watch your language. Do not use any language your grandmother would not use.
     
  17. Chef_Graham

    Chef_Graham

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    My apologies. >..> I was in Alaska for 5 months hanging out with a bunch of potty mouth cooks. A lot of that foul language rubbed off on me and i tend to forget that those words are only appropriate in the kitchen.
     
  18. linecookliz

    linecookliz

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    No one here has worked with you so we can't really critique your work. I always ask my higher ups on what they feel I need to work on. Good luck