All careers come with some basic expectations, and a standing at the top of the cooking world is no different. As a top chef, you need to look the part, understand and respect food, and have broad knowledge of cuisine types and traditional recipes. Combining these aspects for one total package gives you the tools needed to stand tall as a top chef.
- Presentation – White collar workers have embodied the advice to “look the part,” for generations, but the same is true for any career. Nurses dressed in scrubs inspire more confidence, and a uniform tells the public that the person is to be trusted. For chefs, appearance is even more important than in many professions. Hygiene is a constant problem, particularly since public perception is so important. Wearing nitrile gloves, a chef coat and always utilizing scrupulously clean utensils gives diners’ confidence when eating at a restaurant.
- Plating – Serving a great tasting plate of food is part of being a top chef, but to tempt the palates of the public, food must look and taste great. A big part of composing a perfect plate lies in understanding how to use ingredients. Different preparations create different visual effects. For example, no matter how colorful the ingredients, deep frying tends to turn everything into a uniformly golden brown color. Adding a few pops of color to a plate can make it just as appealing to the eye as it to the tongue.
- Recipes – Great chefs know how to prepare food from all over the world. Broad knowledge of recipes allows them to meet the challenges of the increasing popularity of fusion menus. Before a chef can adapt a recipe, they must know the elements of the traditional dish. Blending ingredients from a variety of culinary traditions takes a lot of skill. The more recipes you can replicate from memory, the more playful you can be in the kitchen. Whimsy and clean flavors often appeal to the public.
The difference between a cook and a chef lies in personal presentation, carefully composed plating and creative recipes. Top chefs combine expert knowledge of a commercial kitchen, leading a team of cooks to prepare menu options timely with creative cooking and beautiful plating design. In the kitchen, rigorous attention to hygiene standards, including the use of nitrile gloves, ensures you meet the regulations regarding food preparation standards. If you want to make the transition from cook to top chef, start with increasing your recipe knowledge, paying attention to your plating and putting your appearance as a priority.
Heather B has worked in restaurants almost all her life. She enjoys sharing tips for chef’s who want to take their work to the next level.