If creating masterpieces of culinary delight is your passion, then you are probably already exploring all the great opportunities in the food services industry. Every cook aspires to be a head chef someday, being in charge of their own kitchen and staff. When they’ve really good, head chef’s often win regional or national awards for their efforts and this leads to a celebrity status for the few lucky head chefs who stand out. If you are dreaming of becoming a head chef someday, then here are some things you need to know about what its like to be a head chef.
If you are going to work as a head chef, not only do you have to have high standards for yourself, but you will need to be able to effectively manage other kitchen staff, including all of the cooks and wait staff that will be working under your direction. You will need to be able to coordinate your kitchen (back house) efforts with those of the people in the front of the restaurant. That means dealing with lots of different types of personalities, skill levels and priorities in the restaurant environment. There will be no time for bickering either as the restaurant managers and owners are depending on your leadership and time management abilities to deliver excellent food to their patrons in a timely fashion that will bring them back again and again.
Cooking for a living in a restaurant is very different from cooking for pleasure at home. That doesn’t mean that head chefs do not enjoy what they do, as surely loving the aspect of being in a kitchen creating delectable meals is what it’s all about. Cooking for a living means being able to adapt to what the consumers want, what the owners want and being creative enough to come up with solutions that will fit into their ideas of maintaining a budget. This can be a challenge, but a skilled head chef will be able to work within these kitchen “politics” to rise above and become successful.
The competition is fierce when a head chef is striving for celebrity status. That can mean other chefs within your own ranks trying to compete with you, neighboring restaurants giving you a hard time and even visiting celebrity chefs. Almost everyone wants to be on top in this industry so you must always keep your trade secrets to yourself and work hard at maintaining order in your kitchen as the head chef. If someone challenges you, remember you were in their shoes once and either work with that or eliminate them, but don’t do so at your own expense.
Being a head chef is an exciting career, but it is not without its own set of unique challenges. Working smarter, not harder should be your personal motto. Keep your wits about you and you could be the next top chef in your region