Mentors the importance of .

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by remi love, Apr 16, 2015.

  1. remi love

    remi love

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    Back in the beginning of my career as a former chef I wish I had found a mentor instead of going full tilt into the career as if I knew what I was doing like a pro which I was not . I wish I sought out that special teacher that could have brought me to a new level in a more gentle , softer approach . I was only concerned with making as much money as possible and getting the job done. I had a strong base in knowledge and a lot of natural talent as well but if I only slowed down and took time to smell the roses this could have been such a better career for me . With a mentor I could have bounced ideas of him or her, Gotten more positive information and furthered my softened my learning curve. I could have been shown things like professionalism, better accuracy and better ethics to get the finished products I so longed to perfect . I could have built the great professional relationship with someone who had my better interest involved at hand . Mentor is a person /chef who has been there and done that in there career and can pass off there knowledge to you so that I could be the best chef possible at the given time. Now not in the field any longer I wonder if I had a chef mentor I would still be in the field today. Now I would have been in the field 15 years now I probably could have been a great mentor to someone else who was coming up in the industry. If you are reading this because you wonder if a mentor is right for you then seek out that chef that can make a difference in your career they can dial you in , hook you up with skills you need and probably help you become the chef you always wanted to be weather you are just starting out or have been in the field a long time. A mentor can offer an opinion or advice you may need for all types of things . Good luck to you and find that great mentor and be the best chef you can be now and in the future . 
     
  2. chefross

    chefross

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    Let me ask you this Remi Love....Did you take notice of any person or persons in your career, now that you think about it, that could have served that function?  Were you even aware at the time there could have been such a person?

    Kinda the same boat as you having had survived the "school of hard knocks."

    Understandably it creates an impatient, no BS, just get in there and get it done attitude.

    Although the years go by and new faces come and go, the work ethic survives somehow, but the ability to change ones' outlook is difficult given the years of repeatedly having to put up with the same pervasive problems.
     
  3. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Geez   Ross, wish I had your stamina.  After the third run-on-sentence I started scanning down for a paragraph break, and when I couldn't find any,  I just gave up.... 
     
  4. chefross

    chefross

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    You gotta keep up dude.....
     
  5. chefedb

    chefedb

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    I was lucky, I had 3 real old timers as mentors. One in particular Mr. Ernest Meier who represented the USA in the Culinary Olympics in Lucerne n 1955 took me under his wing and forced knowledge into my young stupid head. I thank him till this day now that I am an old timer.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015
  6. alaminute

    alaminute

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    I feel like there are less and less mentors as you see less of chefs in the kitchens these days. Or perhaps its the amount of new people in the industry, there just arent enough guides to go around. I've had chefs whom I'd worked for for years who were great, the best I could find. These men fleetingly remember me and probably worked next to me a scant number of hours compared to the years I put in with my fellow cooks on the line. Sure, I have some sage advice I stole from them but it was because I watched everything they did, not because they pulled me aside, or showed it TO me. That just doesnt really happen. A former chef of mine worked at Alinea for two years and said that Grant Achatz spoke to him a handful of times maybe And when I asked a former sous of mine what to get for a chef he laughed and said "I dont really know him, he messes up my name alot and im not sure if he even knows I work for him."
    The best advice then might have been from a chef at an indian restaurant in Austin. I was hounding him for a recipe or something (because he only gave everyone seperate parts) and he said that the only way he learned was by watching what everybody did. This is while I was working a busy tandoor station, which isnt a job that allows for a lot of idle 'watching'.
    So I guess I've had role models, but not alot of mentors.
     
  7. foodpump

    foodpump

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    The times, they have a'changed.  It "used to be" that the Chef of a hotel would stay in that position for years and years--as long as s/he kept their f & l costs in check-- and things were fairly stable. 

    Most kitchens now have a Chef who typically stays 12-18 mths, with the usual pattern being to push lower f & l costs on the chef, boot the guy out regardless if the figures are achieved, give the position to his junior without a pay raise or bennies, sweat him a bit, push lower f & l costs on him, boot the guy out, give the position to his junior ......

    There's no carved stone tablet that says a Chef HAS to take juniors under his/her wing, just show them the absolute minimum.  In Europe, where the apprenticeship system is the norm for most trades, the Chef has a vested interest in his apprentices, as his or the Hotel's reputation is transferred to the apprentice when they leave.  Even so, my Chef only taught me less than 20% of what I picked up from other cooks during those three years, he was usually in meetings or in the office.

    I gleaned some of the most valuable information from absolute a-holes.  One in particular was a rampant racist, rumored to have opened a hotel in Sun-City (S. Afrika in the 70's)  He'd ride me very hard, on account of my accent, but noticed I was watching him on the sly all the time: How he whipped eggwhites, how he adjusted the damper in the ovens, how he tempered couverture, etc. He would almost demonstrate for me, but if I openly watched or ask him directly why he did the things the way he did, he'd tell me nasty things about my mother.  Instead I would ask others or consult books, and they would explain.  A permanently drunk dishwasher showed me the trick of creating an air-vent in the feed tube of the meat grinder, avoiding the airlock problems of finer farces when they go through. Another showed me how to grind whole nutmeg and how to separate cardamom seeds from the pods quickly and efficiently.