Being a great chef takes more than just cooking up a great dish, it takes hard work, skill, the ability to believe in yourself and follow your unique style. Most of all though, it takes heart, because that’s what keeps you going when hours are long, it’s what brings your customers back time and again, and it’s what makes your food that much tastier.
Filming the popular TV show “You Are the Chef” over the past 18 years, I have had the chance to work and cook with over 500 chefs. Each of them brings a unique flair to the dining table, but I managed to single out 8 important qualities that are shared among the best chefs.
Good chefs understand and look after their tools, whether it be knives, pans or a Microplane. Without good tools, life in the kitchen can be difficult and dangerous.
Ask any chef and they’ll tell you great ingredients are at the core of every dish. Good chefs are very particular about what they use, the brand, and how fresh it is. Choosing the right ingredients is the basis of all outstanding dishes. If you find yourself having meat that’s too tough or a chocolate ganache that just isn’t smooth and creamy, the problem probably lies in the choice of ingredients, not the cooking.
A top chef always builds on a strong foundation.They take the time to learn basic cutting and cooking skills well and then gradually build on them with more creative techniques.
Traditional dishes can be the best place to start when learning to cook. This is where chefs learn traditional and basic techniques that are fundamental to becoming a good cook. This is also why all good culinary schools teach traditional dishes as their core subjects. Once you learn how to cook them properly, you can build from there and start to get more creative.
A simple dish made with love and passion is always better than any complicated dish by someone who doesn’t care. Food takes on the energy of the maker and you can definitely taste it in the food.
6. UNIQUE STYLE
One of the hardest lessons to learn is being true to yourself and forging a unique style, so when your guests see and taste your food they know it's quintessentially you.
A good chef looks at their experiences, likes and dislikes and creates dishes that show the soul of who they are.
7.BE an EXPERT
You don’t have to be great at everything, but you can focus on 1 or 2 areas and do them very well. When chefs take the time to hone their skills and learn more in-depth techniques, they inspire others through their depth of knowledge.
8. HAVE FUN
The final quality of a great chef is… knowing how to have FUN. You can take your job seriously and still have fun at the same time. The moment it stops being fun, it’s time for you to get out of the kitchen.