For some professional chefs, cooking has been a passion that they’ve enjoyed since they were children. But for others, the joy of cooking is something that was discovered later in life. Whatever the case, it’s never too late to find ways to improve your skills in the kitchen and better yourself to become a respected and well-rounded chef.
A head chef is the leader in the kitchen and is expected to execute a kitchen that runs flawlessly while maintaining a creative edge that helps to produce a menu that will keep diners coming back for more. It’s a tall order to fill but with plenty of dedication and the right attitude, anything is possible. Keep reading to learn more about how to be a good chef and what you can do to continue improving your skills for many years to come.
Top 5 Tips for Becoming a Better Chef
1. Stay Organized
Before you start on a dish, you should always make sure that you have everything in place. Ingredients should all be prepped, peeled, and ready to be used in creating your dish. Having everything prepared before you start cooking makes the entire process easier and will help to make sure that your dish gets out to the dining room in time with the other orders.
There are few things worse for a chef than scrambling around the kitchen looking for a vital ingredient when you’re already halfway through prepping a dish. Running short on time? Depending on your rank within the kitchen you can delegate food prep to others in the kitchen to make sure that all of the ingredients are ready for lunch or dinner service.
2. Always Taste as You Go
Even if you’ve made your special mushroom risotto a million times in the past, you always need to remember to taste as you go. Your palate is the best tool you have, so don’t forget to use it to check your dishes throughout the cooking process. Whether you’re already a professional chef or simply a chef in training, you should never serve something to others without having tasted it yourself. If you’ve taken the time to come up with a great concept for a dish, prepped the right ingredients, and have taken the time to cook it properly—don’t let it be ruined by coming out bland and under-seasoned!
3. Clean, Clean, Clean
Many cook responsibilities can fall to the wayside when the orders start rolling in, but cleanliness shouldn’t be one of them. Clean cooking stations help professional kitchens run like a well-oiled machine, so you need to work hard to make sure your station isn’t filling up with dirty dishes and food debris. Make sure that you always clean as you go to prevent a dirty and unusable preparation space. Plus, at the end of the night, you’ll have less work leftover to deal with before heading home.
4. Work on Your Communication Skills
While clean stations in a kitchen are essential for a smooth service, proper communication is the foundation of a strong and consistent team. Kitchens are very fast-paced, crowded and high-pressure environments that can become dangerous without good communication. To avoid mistakes, injuries, and increase your service speed, you’ll need to communicate well and often with your teammates to make sure that everyone is on the same page throughout service.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Try New Things
Even if you’re experienced in the kitchen, it's important to learn as much as you can by working outside of your comfort zone now and then. Push yourself to stay creative and experiment with foods as often as possible—even if that means working at a new cooking station each night. It's easy to become the master of one specific station within the kitchen, but when you can be counted on to take over any station, you'll prove to yourself and your employer that you are ready to take on new responsibilities and start experimenting with your own dishes as well.
Develop Your Chef Skills at Oregon Culinary Institute
Whether you’re at the peak of your career or you’re just starting to think about becoming a chef, there are always ways that you can better yourself and improve your skills to become a more well-rounded chef. While some of the steps to becoming a better chef may seem basic, it’s important to remember that in the kitchen, the basics are also the essentials. If you forget the fundamentals in the culinary world, it can be hard to reach new heights professionally. So, be sure to keep these simple tips in mind as you work to create new dishes and become a better chef.
Are you interested in becoming a chef and turning your natural cooking talents into a professional culinary career? At the Oregon Culinary Institute, we have a variety of courses that can help train you to work in a professional kitchen and find the right career path among the world’s best chefs. Call 1.888.624.2433 or contact our friendly Admissions Officers today for more information.