Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Staying Power - The Mark of a Great Chef

Hello, My name is Scott and I have been a professional Chef for the last 20 years of my life. I have worked in a variety of places from truck-stops to world-class restaurants, and one thing that I have noticed as being the common denominator for any Chef, is "Staying Power". Staying Power is something that I believe is sorely lacking for a remarkably large number of cooks/chefs, and I think that it needs to change.
What Is Staying Power?
Loosely defined, Staying Power is the ability to last at a particular job in a particular kitchen under the normal or adverse conditions for longer than 6 months. It is the ability to take the daily pressures that we, as Chefs face every day and use them to our advantage. A lot of Chefs that I have encountered do have that ability, but there are an increasingly large amount of Chefs that seem to lack in that department. These are the people who get a job, work a 2 week pay period, then leave once the cheque is in there hot little hands. Or these are the people who, for various reasons, can't handle the constant pressures put upon them and then decide to leave at the least convenient time. For instance, in the middle of a busy holiday weekend, something that seems to happen on a regular basis in a resort town, or on a ski hill.
Why Does This Happen?
That is a very good question, and I think that there is no single answer to it. Various reasons have been cited as to why a cook/chef decides to cut and run before the magic 6 month period. The most common one is money. Although that is completely understandable,and this a notoriously low paying business, it shouldn't be your reason for leaving. In most place, the longer you stay, theoretically the more money you make. This may not hold true with a lot of places, but with the good ones, Staying Power is rewarded with better pay. Theoretically.
Another reason could be working conditions. Unfortunately, there are too many restaurants around that have positively deplorable working conditions. Whether it is a dirty, broken down kitchen, or the chef is at best a complete moron with a superiority complex. In these extenuating circumstances, it is understandable to leave. Hell, I wouldn't stick around.
How about another job? Well, if the job that you are going to is going to provide you with better opportunities for advancement, then it is most certainly in your best interest to leave. But if the job doesn't offer you that, then why go? Try sticking it out, maybe the place that you are in just takes a little longer to offer that. You just never know until you stick it out.
What Do I Do About It?
Well, there is really no easy answer to this. My suggestion would be to stick it out, go along for the ride and see where things end up. If you are having issues, don't be afraid to talk to your chef/manager about your issues. If you are a professional about things, your concerns will be heard and dealt with in a professional manner. But if you go about things like you own the place and this place owes you, then your concerns will fall on deaf ears. Most restauranteurs are professional business people who are in it to make money, and most know that the work is hard and that is the reason why people are hired, but they would drop employees like a bad habit if they feel that they are being disrespected. So be a professional, always be a professional.
So in conclusion, if you want to survive as a chef for any length of time this business, you need 3 important things:
1. Good Footwear
2. A good set of quality chef knives
3. And Staying Power.
If you possess these three important things, the skills follow, then the money. without good foot wear,quality chef knives or staying power, you won't survive 6 months. Happy Cooking!
A quality chef knife is a crucial element for any chef. It can mean the difference between a good prep day or a bad prep day. Get informed, and know what you are using, check out my Chef Knife blog for some experienced information today!

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