7 Must Have Skills for a Chef Career

Everywhere you look nowadays there seems to be a new television show, online series or specialty internet video designed to make you drool with envy.  From plates filled with scallops grilled with butter to platters piled with pastries and finger sandwiches, the visuals alone are enough to make an aspiring foodie…well..aspire to greatness.

If you’re one of the many would-be career seekers who has been swept up in the latest food trends and cooking crazes, you should start off with a good, well-rounded education to broaden your mental palette.  After you have a few foundations under your belt, it’s time to hit the job boards for open listings for internships or other entry-level positions working with food.  

Want to know if you’re ready to take the next step or simply wanting to whet your taste buds?  Putting aside all the food-related puns, you’re in luck. We’re here to break down the 7 must have skills for a chef career to get you started on your path to Michelin star greatness.  

  1. Ability to Handle Criticism

If you’ve ever stepped foot into a kitchen you know that not every dish is going to be a crowd pleaser.  Especially when starting out, aspiring chefs are going to need to know how to handle constructive criticism of their skills and their output.  In addition to your instructor or senior chef’s feedback, there will always be those pesky customers not enjoying a dish or two. The ability to take and learn from criticism is a key skill for those looking to make it in the food industry.

  1. Passion for the Culinary Arts

While it may not seem all that intuitive at first, cooking is indeed an art much like music, painting or dance.  While there is also a hefty dose of science (bread making anyone?) the artistic nature of preparing a creative and unique meal certain requires a hefty dose of passion for the culinary.  If you love all aspects of food from creation to consumption, you’ll do just fine on this checklist item.

  1. Attentiveness to Detail

Despite what a certain whirling dervish of a cartoon character may have taught us about kitchen skills in our youth, food preparation requires a great deal of precision.  Even the smallest details can create subtle differences in taste. A pinch too much sugar or salt can threaten the taste buds and the success of an entire dish. If you’ve got an above average attention to detail it will serve you well working with food prep.

  1. Creativity

The greatest chefs know that the next best recipe isn’t going to be found in any existing cookbook.  Being a success as a chef often involves a hefty dose of innovation and creativity. From plating to ingredients to preparation and execution, finding inspiration to put something on the plate never before experiences is a handy skill and certainly one that is a must for those looking to make it in the upper echelons of chef-dom.

  1. Willingness to Practice

You know that old saying that your well-meaning parent harped over and over when you’re young?  It turns out that when it comes to a career as a chef, practice still does make perfect, or at least as close to perfection as you can get.  Chefs in training must be prepared for a solid dose of failure and be willing to put in the hard work to overcome the inevitable hurdle in the road.  Put practice into action and you’ll be well on your way to foodie success.

  1. Being a Team Player

If you’re the type that fears the idea of being lonely at the top, never worry about that scenario with a career as a chef.  Turning out plate after plate of quality food in any setting other than your personal kitchen requires a whole team of talented cooks, chefs, and servers working together in unison.  If you’re not a people person or don’t enjoy interacting with others, you better start practicing now. Being a team player is certainly an essential part of any career in cuisine.

  1. Having a Good Business Sense

Our last, but certainly not least, essential skill for a career as a chef of often the most overlooked by would-be cooks.  An empty restaurant or a bounced checkbook unable to pick up the shopping list can make it awfully difficult to serve up a dish of linguini.  A strong business sense, with perhaps a few of those aforementioned classes focusing on economics and accounting, will be fundamental if you’re looking to strike out on your own as a chef.

Don’t let our list scare you away from having fun with your food and earning a living.  If you’ve got what it takes, a career as a chef can be rewarding and tasty. Just like with any career, remember that if you do what you love you’ll never work a day in your life.  Bon apetiite!

Article Updated From the Original on April 28, 2018