One of the many questions I am asked is “what does it take to become a chef”. In an industry that was male dominated, the obvious answer some two & half dozen years back, would probably have been balls of steel. I recall working in a small but luxury hotel abroad were I was introduced to my first encounter with Shirley; my Head chef … Shirley ruled that kitchen with a rod of iron, I swear to this day that she had eyes on the back of her head . Chef commanded a reasonably large kitchen brigade, to operate the bistro style bar menu as well as the fine dining restaurant. I quickly rose through the ranks from chef de party to senior Sous Chef.
In an industry were words such as innovative, talented, gifted and sublime are words to describe some of the most influential Chefs within our industry, culinary giants such as Angela Hartnett, Elena Arzak ,Helen Riza, Clare Smyth, Hèlèn Darroze and Jenny Morris (to name but a few) is most certainly not the answer that I would be inclined to give for fear of being chopped up into brunoise!
So back to my original question, What does it take to become a chef? Whilst it is not a requirement, most wannabe chefs will go to a world renowned culinary institute. Here, the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA Dubai) is one of those institutes. All chefs must have a high degree of training, technical skills, experience and management skills, leadership and time management skills, Able to multi task with kitchen equipment and to a degree with staff. Basically like a musical conductor. Twelve plus hours a day six days a week is extremely commonplace. Take a large pinch of dedication and sprinkle over obsession; you might just have what it takes to become a CHEF!
This is my advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun”-Julia Carolyn Child