Things needed to be a good chef..

Joined May 6, 2004
sorry if this has been discussed before... and sorry for my english ;)
You can say im a a 17 years old chef-wannabe :D (so young compared to ppl around here no?)
i'm not a cooking freak, im just really happy if someone said that my food is delicious :) and i heard that the $$$ is good :rolleyes:
but.. is that reason is enough to be a chef? do i have what it takes to be a good chef?
what is needed to be a good chef?
like a sense of taste ? or a strong hand :confused:
Joined Apr 28, 2003
#1 requirement to be a good chef and any other job in this world is passion.
Chefs must be able to take a lot of crap;criticism and long hours (mainly standing) to name a couple. To be able to take all this, you really have to love your job. If you don't, you jobs is nothing more then a means to a pay cheque.
And no, money isn't as much as you'd expect unless you have a big name like Susur Lee, Micheal Stadlander, Jaimie Kennedy (note, all Canadians, only big names I know who don't show up on TV much).

read this thread for a better perspective.
Joined May 26, 2001
Yes, we've talked about this before, but it can always be talked about more. :)

Many of us here prefer to make a distinction between being a chef and being a cook. There are many, many cooks around, even famous ones you might see on television, who are called chefs. But Headless Chicken is right: being a chef is a calling, like being a priest or an artist -- you must feel that there is nothing else in life for you to do, nothing else that can satisfy you. Being a chef is about what you can give to other people, not how much praise or money you can make (and for most, the money is terrible :( ).

Without that passion, you can still become a very good cook, and even a good administrator, which is what people in the job of "chef" really have to be. Remember that chef means head or leader: the person who runs the kitchen. For that, you need skills in managing people (psychology), language skills, business skills, mathematics, some science, and a lot of curiosity about the world. A good sense of taste is necessary, and a spirit of adventure.
Joined May 5, 2004
As in money, what would you consider terrible? It all depends on ones perspective....
Joined Dec 12, 2000
Trust, you have to be able to trust your crew. If your going to be worrying about people getting their work done, you are going to wind up with an ulcer. You have to be able to delegate. You also need to know how to prepare everything on your menu. It also comes in handy to be able to calculate costs on the fly, without a calculator.
That's about as much as I can add right now, Suzanne and Headless chicken made some great points.
Roeloff, as for the money thing, some folks in this industry get pittance compared to others, I'm making almost $10 an hour (with trade papers), and my dishboys are making $8 and they work just as hard as I do. Mind you BC has the highest minimum wage in the country.
Joined Nov 20, 2000
Along with what everyone else said (which by the way is all good advice) I would add this. Change the word Chef to adult. You may not always be a Chef, so what do you need to be a good adult. An even temperment, humility, the ability to learn from those around you as well as from your own mistakes. The desire to always learn and grow. Be empathetic. Whatever you do in life, do what you enjoy, enjoy what you do. Always be yourself and climb the ladder of success on your own merits not on the backs of others.
Good luck! :chef:
Joined Aug 29, 2006
Hey come on guys, im getting really fed up with this passion stuff. Yes I love food and cooking but I have still got to pay the mortgage and give the best I can for my daughter, so for me its about the money.

I am a freelance chef in the UK, I basically get called into kitchens when the **** has really hit the fan. I charge a minimum of £15 per hour thats about 25 dollars an hour.

Joined Oct 10, 2005
'nuff said. If it's about the money and you like cooking but think passion is for wussies, or starving young artists, well, then you'll always be on call. Working short temps at places that are a nightmare, cleaning up the last Chef's mess (OR F & B's OR previous owner's mess for that matter...) and when you've cleaned up: food looks good, cooks know what they're doing, no funny business going on in the walk-ins, health/ fire inspector hasn't been around in almost 3 months, deliveries don't need C.O.D.'s, sales reps actually smile at you... Well, then the powers that be find you're too expensive to keep on, so they find/promote an eejit in a poofy white hat, boot you out, and then call you back in in few months, to clean up THAT mess... Gotta love it. I did, for a while...

True. you can make alot of coin this way, and you don't have to be passionate, just good at what you do, but after a few years of cleaning up other people's messes you start to wonder...

Who, me? On a rant? You're right, who needs passion?
Joined Jun 27, 2006
IMHPO That's a shame tcapper. I guess if you don't need it then that's great for you. But personally the passion (or drive which is another word with equal meaning) is what made it possible to work all those hours day in and day out for months and years at a time (just an example but close to 8 months without a day off more than once and add in the fact that I held 2-3 jobs while in culinary school). The passion/drive is what made me try harder to provide the ultimate experience to my "guests". The passion/drive is what made it possible for me to strive to be better than I was and become what chrose calls a "good adult".

Not to mix words but without the passion/drive, the position is nothing more than a cook as Suzanne said!

Yeah the money keeps us and provides for us. There is no disputing the fact that we have bills of all sorts to pay. But personally I have taken the job that didn't pay as much over the one that did just to gain that opportunity or experience. Maybe it was more creative freedom or I saw the potential in the opportunity but....for me the passion/drive is what made my whole career possible. And what foodpump said too.:D (I was preparing dinner while typing)
Joined Sep 17, 2006
Hello, I'm new to this and well all this talk about passion and money has me a little confused because like any other future chef I've done my research on the career ahead of me, and some say the money is not that good and the hrs. are long and very harsh. other sites say that chefs make good money and the job market it booming. I know I have the passion that is why I'm choosing my career as a chef but all the conflicting information has my head spinning. :crazy:
Joined Nov 29, 2006
MY Idea of a great chef is one that has earned his merrits by working himself up the ranks, and truly values the hard work of his brothers in the kitchen evrything else is secondary.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
I'd like to illustrate something in regards to money, or how much a Chef earns.

Q) Who earns more, the guy who designs and cuts the diamond and sets it in 22 kt gold, or the guy who sells the ring to a customer?

People who work with other people will always be top earners. This category includes all sales people, doctors lawyers, and agents. The Chef who commands a brigade of 20 will earn more than a Chef who commands a brigade of 5, simply because he has more people-related issues to deal with.

If you want to earn big bucks as a Chef, be prepared to deal more with people and less with food.
Joined Nov 28, 2006
Hello, I'm new to this forum, and I thought this was an interesting conversation. I am certainly not one to offer advice on being a chef, yet I can understand his doubt about being a good one.

Artists work tirelessly their whole lives for the persuit of perfection. What makes a person truly great is always found in their heart. If you think you can do something, and you are willing to put forth the effort, then you are off to a good start. The drive to succeed is always necessary.

If you would like to try your hand with desserts, go to my website listed below and pick up a free Classic Desserts cook book. You might find it very useful for practicing preparing pies. There are recipes for all the common pies.

Talk later. Tango
Joined Nov 30, 2006
I've learned the CRUCIAL ideals a chef must embrace are:
  1. You have to have the fire under your a** to WANT to be there (do what you have to do to get the job done -- 'balls to the wall' so to speak)
  2. You have to WANT to be better than you are (constant learning -- nobody knows everything!)
  3. You MUST WANT to make a difference!! (in your own life, and the direction you point your employees and apprentices--LEAD BY EXAMPLE!!)
My $0.02:cool:
Joined Oct 26, 2006
There are a few things a chef needs...

1) focus - you must be ready to do your best everytime you walk into that kitchen or else you will get eatin alive.
2) Kindness - if you can't learn to help others and not get angry then you will always be misserable.
3) passion - passion for creating great meals/desserts. You must like doing it so that you can do you best in all that you do.
4) purpose - if you do not know your purpose in life then you will never be happy no matter what you do. You could make great dishes your whole life and get lots of praise but if you don't know your purpose for being on this earth it all come up short and you will never be satisfied...

To God Be the Glory,
Joined Nov 3, 2006
Trust~in yourself and the people around you, if you can't trust the people who work with/for you, then you're in trouble
Desire~ to do the best **** job possible no matter what it takes, i.e. working long hours
Passion~to create and execute the food for not only the palate but the eyes
Ability~to go with the flexible..

In the 28 years that I have been in the restaurant business I have self trained myself by asking questions, one restaurant when there was a trainer program available I learned how to do all the positions (grill, saute,fry, cold side, cutting fish) as a result I became assistant kitchen manager. It just depends on what you want, I want to be the best I can be..I can step into anyone's shoes in the restaurant I currently work and do their job as well as my own.
Joined Jul 28, 2001
I trhink the word passion is so overused, and a little feminine for my taste. Maybe drive, for me. Work is something I do to receive monies so that I may enjoy my other life away from work. Chrose has it, a chef is someone who has matured in the kitchen. They have the drive to learn and be mature enough to become a conduit between the things they learn and those around him.
The most important thing a chef carries on his back is his customers. You must please them, defend them (don't let anyone short-change them), educate them, understand them, and praise them for choosing your skills over others. A customer can get good food anywhere. A chef has achieved his or her goals when the customer comes for the " dining experience".
As a customer, I can be having the highest quality food, if I don't understand the chefs personality/ style, it's just another good meal, not an experience.
This applies to all food. When a customer asks you to pick a flavor of cake that will compliment this or that, or if they make sure your label is on the box so the recipient knows where it is from, I think they understand you and your skills.
Just my 3 cents.
Joined Sep 5, 2006
Can you see how passionate food people are? These replies are wonderful!

I would say you definately have to at least "like" what you are doing to be a chef. You do need good people skills- as you will have a variety of personalities and backgrounds working in your kitchen with you. You have to be committed to learn- optimal costs and varieties of cooking techniques aren't something you are going to just figure out on your own. Obviously a sense of taste- but be open to the fact that you may required to prepare items you don't even like the taste of, you just have to know how it is supposed to taste, and be able to achieve it. I guess I would say the difference I have seen in people who just "work" in the industry and people who "are" the industry is their heart- if you are a "foodie person" (my terminology- call us what you wish), you are different from the mainstream. Foodie people are giving- we seek to feed others, to give them enjoyment from our work. I think THAT is why some are just a "chef" and some are concidered masters or leaders in the industry. You have to find your own place in it.
My opinion for what it's worth.....
Joined Dec 21, 2006
You have to love it and enjoying as every job. You sound enthusiastic which is a good sign. The money? it depends how hard you work. Why don't you try it. Try to get a part time job as a kitchen helper and experience it by yourself. (That's what I did when I was 15):chef:

Good luck
Joined Sep 22, 2011
In my experience, being a good chef is not just about going cook school. You need experience from being a waiter, bar man and kitchen porter. You need to know the basic ingredients, kitchen equipments and good knife skills. you need to be motivated and have an eye for detail. Basic IT skills like MS office, math and communication are essential.
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