A Look at a Day in the Life of a Chef
One of the biggest perks of getting a good culinary education and becoming a chef is that no two days on the job are exactly the same. When you're a chef – especially an Executive Chef or restaurant owner – you get quite a bit of creative license and freedom so that you never know what exactly you'll be called upon to do that day.
However, most of the time, you can expect to handle a few key tasks as part of your chef duties.
Menu Creation: You might either make a new menu, contribute to a menu, or adjust a menu based on the freshest ingredients available. The ability to think on your feet can go a long way in making the most out of seasonal goods.
Good, Old-Fashioned Cooking: Even Executive Chefs get their hands dirty in the kitchen! While you may not be required to prep your food or work on the line, chefs often get right into the thick of things to help get the food looking – and tasting – perfect.
Mingling with the Guests: The chef is the superstar of the restaurant. He or she is the force behind the flavors, and many diners like to bring the chef out for compliments or complaints. Having people skills and being able to deal with customers graciously can go a long way in increasing your status.
Overseeing Large Teams: This is especially true for Executive Chefs. In the kitchen, there are line cooks, sous chefs, dishwashers, waiters, bartenders, hostesses, and even deliverymen and women to contend with. In addition to being able to direct this team of professionals, a chef has to be prepared to take on any of these roles at a moment's notice.
Running a Business: If you own your own restaurant, you can expect quite a bit of paperwork to fall on your desk. Issues like human resources, accounting, licensing, and correspondence can take away up to half of your time, leaving you with less contact with the food than you may have imagined.
Going to culinary school is a dream come true for many budding chefs. However, remember that being a chef is about more than cooking. It is a multi-faceted career that requires skills, patience, training, and most of all, a love of the craft.
Read, Read and Read Some MoreOne of the best suggestions I have for anyone thinking of going to culinary school or just getting into the restaurant industry is to read everything you can get your hands on. Learn from professional chefs who have worked in the industry and those who have taught in culinary schools.
There are many great books available to get you started in your culinary education and I suggest you read as much as possible before making that big decision to make sure this is the right move for you. Below is just a sample of books you might be interested in checking out.
For a much more comprehensive list of books for aspiring culinary, baking and restaurant management students, I suggest checking out my post on books for future culinary students and chefs.