Chefs have recently been the darlings of the media spotlight. From reality shows that exhibit their fiery mettle to game shows that feature their knowledge and expertise, being a chef is tantamount to excellence in the kitchen. Rightfully so, a chef handles the most important human need, which is our need to eat so it only makes sense that the discipline they practice reflect the importance of the commodity that needs to be delivered.
Some chefs are business owners too and definitely all of them are leaders in their respective kitchens. The qualities that comprise a very successful chef can actually be applied in running your business and gaining the same level of celebrated success. Here are some of them that you can apply.
Goals are Clearly Defined
People who work under a master chef know their goals very clearly. They have a specific station or job in the kitchen and they know what the output should look like and most importantly taste like. A pastry chef knows that his or her dessert should taste heavenly but not too sweet and the flavors need to balance each other. Someone preparing the sauce knows what the finished entrée is and how that sauce would complement that product.
Thorough Planning and Preparation
The frantic work we see in the kitchen is only the tip of the iceberg. The chef’s job goes beyond that and is extremely dependent on the level of preparation done. From planning the menu and its intricacies, which may include what dishes compliment other dishes, what ingredients can easily be sourced and what techniques can be put at play. The chef also personally selects the cuts of meat, the vegetable sources and other ingredients to ensure the best output when cooked together.
Leadership by Example
Not a single successful chef has ever attained his or her status by just overseeing. A great chef is a master cook who has perfected the techniques by cooking that recipe and fine-tuning its flavor until it has accomplished the savory delight that it has become. When a member of the team is struggling, the chef takes over and shows that person how to do the task by example until that team member picks it up.
Great Teaching Abilities
The only way a new member of the team can be inducted is when the chef teaches that person how to do his or her job. Whether you’ve been doing that job in a previous restaurant for years or whether you’re a fresh graduate out of culinary school, every kitchen you enter is completely different. Thus, the chef is tasked with the responsibility to personally teach you how the procedures go about. He or she personally shows you the ingredients and techniques involved in some of the restaurant’s signature dishes. A chef who doesn’t possess the right training techniques and who does not have the patience to do so in the first place cannot expect his or her team to support him or her in the kitchen.
Strong Delegation and Trust in the Team
When you see some celebrity chefs on television suffer from a meltdown and even sometimes berate their team it’s because of the huge amount of trust they have placed in each team member. That trust may suffer some extremes and delve into the emotional, which led to such outbursts but it’s there nevertheless. Now, I’m not saying you need to go out and start yelling orders at your team the way master chefs do. The point we are getting across is that the level of delegation done in the kitchen is not something that is part of the chef’s leadership style, it’s more of an actual requirement. With the fast, hectic pace, one person cannot humanly cover enough ground to complete a service. This is why delegation is needed and this is why in instances that the team works well together, the more awards a restaurant gets.
The kitchen, particularly during a meal service is one of the most extreme work environments one can ever experience. Aside from the heat brought about by the cooking equipment, there is a massive push to accomplish things within the right timing. Customers are expecting completely cooked meals and want it cooked to perfection. The meal has several components that need to be assembled in order and in the right time to achieve different variables like texture, temperature, doneness and appearance. While trying to accomplish these in an intense environment there are situations wherein decisions, quick and good ones need to be achieved and the chef is the only person who can sum up all of his or her experience, expertise and knowledge to come up with one.
Thankfully, running your own business doesn’t contain some of the time-based variables found in top-rated restaurant kitchens but adopting the same kind of discipline in your business can take you to the echelons of success and achievement.