5 Key Characteristics of a Successful Chef

Throughout our lives we are fascinated by the likes of celebrity chefs on television, from Gordon Ramsay to Jamie Oliver. We admire them and even dream to be like them every now and then, but the reality seems as if it’s too far-fetched for us to really achieve. What if I were to tell you that there is more to knowing all the chopping techniques than meets the eye, and the truth is you may or may not realise that you share a few similarities with the world’s most successful chefs? So my question to you is, do you have what it takes to become a successful chef? Of course you do! Allow us to reveal the five key characteristics to set you apart.


1. Creativity

With a strong focus on the 21st century gastronomy, creativity plays a pivotal role in the revolution of developing new culinary products suitable for today’s marketplace. If you are an adventurous person by nature, you may be one step closer than you think to resembling your favourite chef. After all, cooking is a blend of science and art, and being in the kitchen means to create new ideas and take risks. A chef must always be willing to try something new, otherwise how else did your favourite chef come up with his/her signature dish to begin with? Even so, regardless of whether you are creative or not, there are techniques and skills that need to be learned, and it is with these skills that you will transform something ordinary into something exquisite. Giada De Laurentiis opined, “... we eat with our eyes first, so it has to look great. The presentation has to be great.” Whether you are a beginner or a professional who wants to acquire specialist knowledge, interest is all you need to start with.


2. Attention to Detail
Attention to detail champions the art and science of cooking. If you like science, there are a few principles you can import to the kitchen to improve your approach to food. In essence, the process of cooking is working with a series of ingredients by combining them and using energy for the application of heat or cold to produce a scrumptious, healthy, and hopefully pleasing experimental result. For those who were glad that lab work is something you can put to bed for good after high school, fear not! Science in cooking is a science in its own and if you know how to follow instructions, you can follow a recipe no problem. Like every admired chef, the key is to pay close attention to detail, learn to interpret and understand measurements, and make sure you have the basic tools and skills that you should master to help you succeed.


3. Teamwork
Guess what? There’s no ‘I’ in team. In the words of Steve Jobs, “Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” As a matter of fact, you will never be running solo in the kitchen - executive chef, head chef, sous chef, chef de partie, commis chef, kitchen porter, dishwasher, you name it, they matter. It’s important that you’re able to work and establish strong bonds together if you want to be a great chef. Gordon Ramsay mentioned that, “There’s a bond among kitchen staff, I think. You spend more time with your chef in the kitchen than you do with your own family.” The success of a kitchen depends on the ability of kitchen staff to work together effectively. Therefore, your own ability to work in a team is crucial to determine whether or not you’ll make your mark in the culinary world.


4. Multitasking
The ability to handle multiple things at once goes a long way and comes to great use in the life of a chef. It’s always a go-go-go situation in a kitchen. One minute you’ll be asked to prep vegetables, and the next minute you’re asked to grab ingredients from the fridge while watching over your chicken on a sauté all at once. With multitasking comes being able to remain calm and steady while keeping your eyes on the end goal of providing seamless customer satisfaction, and quality dishes for all your diners. Multitasking is thus imperative to becoming a successful chef, but it is something you can learn with practice and patience over time, no one is born with the ability to do lots of things at once, so there’s time to learn yet!

5. Ability to Handle Criticism
Even Anthony Bourdain still has something to learn; all of the best chefs do. Not everyone will delight in what you put on a plate, and a good chef knows not to take poor reviews to heart. To put it simply, consider Steve Jobs as an example, the pioneer of Apple would not have seen his brand all across the globe if he had taken criticism personally. Instead, he stayed at the top of his game and mastered in handling criticism, and used critics to construct an improved and ever-better version of his masterpiece. Likewise, be ready to adjust your style whenever necessary in order to keep customers tastebuds happy. Keep in mind that there's no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary, and the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about. Hence, see criticisms as a chance to learn and improve your craft.


Having these five key ingredients is paramount on your journey to being a successful chef. If you find any of these attributes in yourself, and you’re willing to sow more new seeds and cultivate them further, then you could be destined for culinary greatness. To achieve, is to work hard. Nothing worth having comes easy. Start your journey with Cilantro Culinary Academy today and we’ll support you the whole way. Our next intake is now open for registration!




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