Being a chef is much more than knowing how to cook and plate food. As with any job, the role requires a bunch of soft skills that will help you enjoy your time in the workplace, get along with colleagues and also rise up the ladder.
Most culinary institutes help inculcate soft skills as part of the learning process. Skill centres such as Kamaxi Skills make high-quality culinary training as well as non-technical skills more accessible to students across India with programmes that include fundamental soft skills training as part of the curriculum. These are certified by the government and recognised by the industry so students have a solid foot in the door. We’ve got a short list of the top soft skills to have as a chef.
Attention to detail
If you’ve ever watched the reality show MasterChef, you’ll know how important details are. And it isn’t simply in the recipe you follow, but the overall guest experience. Diners who have loved eating at your establishment will return with the expectation of receiving the same experience every time. Being attentive to detail from the start of your career will be key to your advancement in the profession.
As a chef, you will work as part of a team. This includes your colleagues in the kitchen, as well as the wait staff and management. Kitchens in most establishments are also not the most spacious areas so working in close quarters on tight deadlines and for long hours can get stressful. This can lead to arguments and interpersonal tensions. You will need to quickly learn how to diffuse a situation – either between yourself and another colleague or between two others so that the kitchen continues to run smoothly and customers’ experiences are not affected.
Restaurant success is dependent on the customers, who are today able to call you out positively or negatively on highly public platforms. Criticism and feedback can also come from other chefs, work mates and management. It is useful to develop a thick skin to avoid being negatively affected by criticism. You will have to learn to look at all feedback objectively and decide whether it is valid or if it’s simply an irate customer, jealous colleague or incompetent manager.
Thinking on your feet
Life as a chef is about working fast to get orders out swiftly and accurately. Meal times can be hectic in a commercial kitchen and you will need to constantly make decisions on the go. Those who can consistently make the right decisions in as little time as possible are more likely to be bumped up for promotions.
Being organised can help you feel and be more in control of your situation. As a chef, it starts from ensuring that your section is tidy, clean and in order as you work so there is no point at which you are overwhelmed by the mess of the previous orders. This will help you inculcate good organisational skills for the future where you will be required to manage staff as well as every cooking and service detail, from workflow to plating.