Young Cooks Need To Pay Their Dues In The Kitchen By Paul Sorgule, M.S., AAC One Of The Downsides To A Formal Culinary Education Is That Young Culinarians Tend To Lack The Patience To Pace Their Rise To The Top.
Need to Pay Their Dues in the Kitchen
Paul Sorgule, M.S., AAC
of the downsides to a formal culinary education is that young culinarians tend
to lack the patience to pace their rise to the top. What time has taught me, as
well as many other chefs, is that there really is no shortcut to excellence.
The degree will prove invaluable as graduates take one step at a time towards
that first sous chef position, but it is patience that sets the course for
success when the time is right.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit
is sweet.” – Aristotle
is a critical skill that comes from an understanding of where an individual
wants to be and the process that will lead to that end. Work methodically
towards your goal, and know when you are ready and when you are not. Those
young cooks who thrust prematurely into a position of responsibility will fail
more often than not.
The following words of advice may
help tomorrow’s chefs understand the need to pay their dues first.
RESPECT & TRUST:
A chef is only successful when he or she is surrounded by a team of supporters.
Respect is not a right; it must be earned through consistent actions. A cook
should never assume that respect comes with the title. It comes when the chef
demonstrates that this respect is a reflection of his or her daily actions.
Trust is even more difficult to earn, and it only comes over time when a chef’s
actions demonstrate that he or she walks the talk. Trust is a two-sided action.
Time allows you to learn how important it is to trust your fellow workers. When
this happens, the planets are aligned.
“Trust is the lubrication that makes
it possible for organizations to work.” – Warren Bennis
THERE IS NO “I” IN TEAM:
Great restaurants run in the same manner as a unified sports team with a
single focus on winning. Leadership among this group is oftentimes shared by
individuals who own this common goal, not simply because a person in authority
deems it so. You must demonstrate the ability to serve as a member of the team
before recognition of your role as a chef is evident.
CHANGE FOR THE SAKE OF CHANGE ISN’T ALWAYS THE BEST MOVE:
Cooks who are promoted to the position of chef before they are ready will often
approach the job as an opportunity to place their signature on the operation.
If there is one surefire way to alienate a team, it is to change without
winning over their hearts and minds. This takes time, respect, and trust.
EXPERIENCE IS STILL THE BEST EDUCATOR:
There are many things in life that can only be taught through experience.
Always remember that challenges and crises are opportunities for seasoned
leaders to demonstrate successful action. Your team needs to have confidence in
your ability to problem-solve and make well-thought-out decisions. The only way
that this skill can be developed is through experiencing challenges and
learning what to do and what not to do. When a cook melts down on the line, the
chef will need to have a solution. If the power goes out on a Friday night with
a full dining room, all eyes will be on the chef to carry the torch. When food
cost is way out of line, management will expect the chef to identify the source
of the problem and correct it. All of these situations lean heavily on
KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW:
Until a cook is faced with challenges without answers, he or she may see their
path to the top as a right and a natural transition. Inexperience can be
dangerous until the cook admits what he or she doesn’t know and sets a course
to find the answers and grow into a position of responsibility.
of age, and despite the level of formal education, the most successful
chefs are those who understand that it will take time to earn the title,
respect, and trust that come with the role.
“To be great at anything, you can’t
avoid a fundamental law: you have to pay your dues.” – Joe Pane