The chef's blog
Perhaps it's time to put some pressure on the chef too...
I've been writing on the others job lately, not without a certain degree of criticism, so I think it's time to balance things out, we chef, are definitely not perfect...
My dear Chef
Please call your dishes with their names, to start with. Sure it sounds good, however, you need to remember if you write "Carpaccio", the customer rightfully expects thin slices of raw beef. There's a well documented history behind Carpaccio as many other dishes and although most of your customers don't know it, when you find the acknowledged one, all the glitters disappear...
Same with ingredients, they don't have to be necessarily exotic or expensive, it's much better if they go well together... And don't forget to call them with their names, I agree that some customer could not recognize a bottle of Chianti from a giraffe, but it's still more honest you state the real ingredients...
Don't take for granted your customer must know everything about your cuisine. There is no logical reason why a Chinese national should know everything about your "Ossobuco", perhaps you know just 0,0001 % of Chinese cuisine, don't you? So don't get upset if your Chinese (or whatever nationality, it doesn't matter) ask you an Ossobuco medium rare, or send back your Carpaccio because the meat is raw. It's your fault, you failed to explain what is it in your menu!
Stop complaining! You complain about everything! The suppliers, your team, the hard working, the long schedule, working on weekends or public holidays, skipping lunches and dinners (I know chefs who pretend they never eat, like they go on with just iron will and fresh air...). You made the menu, and choosing the ingredients your suppliers can't supply is your fault. You made your team, if they fail you, it's your fault, instead complaining, take a serious effort to improve their skills and/or motivation. You picked up your job, and deep inside you just love it. You knew you were going to work on New Year's Eve, and now you complain? If you skip just one lunch, well... it's still your fault, you should have planned your work and mise en place in time to get your lunch, in time to allow yourself and your team to take a well deserved break...
Stop treating your staff like animals (you can be so sweet with your dog...), it might be entertaining on TV, but that's TV! In real life, you're gonna spend 2/3 of your life in your working place, make that place as pleasurable as possible! Start the day with a smile on the face, greet your staff when you enter in the kitchen, and before you leave, say thanks to them. Remember, an orchestra director is nobody without an orchestra, without your team you're nobody!
Don't keep secrets, you have none. Teach everything to your team, don't be afraid to disclose a recipe. The more your team can do, the more time you have for doing your job, create new masterpieces! A recipe doesn't make a chef, as much as a music sheet doesn't make a pianist!
Don't impersonate the old cliché of the tough guy, the chef who's always right, who need no help from no one, you don't even really believe in it. Be yourself, admit your mistakes, ask for help when you need it. You'll find your working life much easier, less stressful and surely you'll learn a lot of valuable knowledge. New ideas, good ideas, can come from any one. Good and innovative ideas, do not require particular experience, knowledge or titles, so be open minded, accept suggestions and criticism from any one, your team mates, your customers, friends and colleagues. They will respect you for that!
Don't think all the people around you, especially your customers, are "stupid" or "ignorant". If they don't understand your product, or they simply don't like it, there's nothing wrong it them or in your product, not always, not necessarily. Sometimes that product simply does not fit with their taste, it's no tragedy! Move on, and improve it if possible, or simply take it out from the menu and replace it. Cuisine is a voyage that goes nowhere, there is no sure direction, no safe harbor. Enjoy the trip for the sake of the voyage, explore new places, try everything without prejudice, listen to others, learn, teach, fail, retry!
In the end, if you're true Chef, you're a lucky person too, you're paid to do your hobby!
Don't think, not even for a minute, I do follow every single one of the suggestions above. I'm a Chef, but a human too and as for any human, the path of my career is paved by mistakes. I'm just trying to improve the path ahead of me...
Executive Chef with over thirty years of field experience, passionate in the culinary world at 360º