What Are Culinary Ethics?
The right culinary school offers more than just cooking skills; it includes training in restaurant ethics, as well. If you’re talking about the legal or medical profession, ethics are a pretty prominent matter—and all professionals are trained to handle them.
From client confidentiality to doing no harm, your responsibilities tend to be clear. However, in a restaurant setting, ethics and business sense blur the lines a little. Of course you want to put out the best food possible, but what does this entail? And what do you have to sacrifice to do it?
Although each restaurant or company will have its own ideas about what kitchen ethics are, here are few industry standards you can expect to encounter along the way:
Tap into local resources
Yes, it may be cheaper to order wholesale ingredients from a large manufacturer or from a company that can offer you a great discount. However, by contributing to the success of local farmers and focusing on fresh ingredients in your area, you can sustain the local economy and also put out a product that is appealing to healthy and eco-savvy consumers.
Obey all food safety and sanitation laws
The ten-second rule shouldn’t exist in your kitchen, and it’s never okay to endanger your patrons with unsafe food or food storage. Not only are there legal ramifications to bad sanitation practices, but it can impact quality and your image, as well.
Create consistent portion sizes
It’s never a great idea to cut corners where foot portions are concerned. While you might theoretically be able to save money and reach your quotas faster if you put 14 ounce steaks out in place of the 16 ounce ones that are advertised, it’s rarely a good idea. Your customers expect what they’ve been promised—and it’s good for your reputation to exceed those expectations, not skimp on them.
Don’t be afraid to waste (time, money, or food)
A quality product is your fastest path to cooking success. If a dish isn’t right, it may be best to throw it out rather than serve something substandard.
Personal responsibility is key
Whether you’re the restaurant manager or you’re fresh out of culinary school and working up the ranks, you share in the successes and failures of the restaurant. To this end, it is your job to maintain company standards and ensure that you are always doing your best.
Don’t make it personal
While personal responsibility is good, making the food about anything other than the food is not. If a customer complains, or if a dish comes back several times for minor complaints, it’s important to keep your head up and try not to take it as a personal insult. Your food—no matter how good—will never please everyone, and you can only do your best every time.
When you attend a top culinary institution in the United States, you can expect all kinds of different learning experiences. From knife skills and soups to restaurant management, you will learn the ins and outs of becoming a cook for the modern restaurant industry.
One of the most important lessons, though, is how to work well in the kitchen: with your coworkers, your staff, your boss, your vendors, and even the customers Whether it is part of your culinary school curriculum or not, ethics in the kitchen is a large part of being a successful chef.
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.