Tips for a career that combines the business of food and the art of cooking
Do you love food? Are you always thinking of creative ideas for preparing and presenting meals? Having a passion for working in the kitchen is essential for a culinary arts professional. But that’s just the beginning. You then must harness that passion to study, practice, and gain experience. If you think that heading back to the classroom might be the next step for you, consider a culinary training program like the one at Branford Hall.
Once you’ve committed to this field, there are a number of ways you can work in an ongoing way towards improving yourself. If excellence as a culinary arts professional is your goal, keep these suggestions in mind:
1. Look for Ways to Continue to Learn
Culinary arts is a career where, whether you have one year or ten years of experience, there are always new methods, new recipes, and new techniques to explore and learn. If you currently work in the restaurant business, watch how co-workers with more experience tackle a recipe, handle a customer complaint, or manage timing and plating. Ask questions and accept advice and feedback with an open mind.
Even if you already have a culinary arts degree, seeking out opportunities for continuing education and certifications can allow you to dive deeper into a specialized area of expertise. Maybe baking and pastries are your passion. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to be a personal chef. Whatever your area, the American Culinary Federation website has useful information on requirements and how to apply for certifications.
2. Put Safety First
Culinary arts professionals are on their feet for long stretches of time, must be able to lift heavy supplies, and need to be able to work with their hands quickly and precisely. There will be busy days and nights in kitchens that are often overheated and hectic. You might be tempted to exist amped up on coffee, eat only food that’s quick and convenient, and try to get by on little sleep. However, these things will not help you perform your job expertly and efficiently, and could lead to you being sluggish and prone to mistakes—which in a kitchen can be dangerous. Instead, fuel your body with adequate amounts of sleep and a balanced diet. Stay hydrated. Get some form of daily exercise—even if it’s just taking a break from the kitchen and walking around the block during a shift. These steps will help you stay calm, energized, and ready to face each challenge as it comes your way.
3. Be Professional at All Times
If working in a kitchen or a restaurant is something you love, this can mean that some tasks might seem effortless. But often, you may find yourself in stressful situations where multiple things are going wrong—usually all at once! The job of a chef is to handle it all in stride. Regardless of the details of any scenario, remind yourself always to be professional—with your boss, fellow kitchen staff, vendors, and (most of all) customers. You might find that a deep breath, a smile, or word of encouragement can take the edge off even the most stressful situation. Your co-workers will always appreciate a team-oriented attitude and being open-minded and flexible about new ways of doing things. Try to take constructive criticism to help you understand what you can do differently in the future.
No matter where you are on your journey towards being a culinary arts professional, there’s always room to grow and improve. Reaching your potential as a chef takes time and practice, but the success you find can be highly gratifying!
This article is part of the Branford Hall weekly blog. We offer an array of professional training programs at ten campuses in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Reach out to us for more information today!