With millions of people all around the world now following some of form of culinary education it’s no surprise the industry is packed with fresh faced trainees and graduates happy to work hard, learn all aspects of the job and slowly rise the ranks.
Then, and it has to be one of the biggest pet peeves for almost every chef I meet, there’s the entitled graduates who think they don’t need to wash the dishes, don’t need to start at the bottom and that they’ll most certainly be charging big bucks for their tasting menus very soon - they’d be doing it now if only they could find a financier.
Fortunately this attitude is still only displayed by the minority but it is increasing and with that in mind we took the opportunity during the recent S.Pellegrino Cooking Cup in Venice to ask some of the world’s best chefs to offer their advice to the young culinary students of the future.
Here’s what they had to say.
“The most important ingredient in this food world for young chefs is to be patient. When I was 20-years-old I had to go to a library, now if I want a recipe I can have it anywhere - maybe one million recipes. All this information that you’re receiving makes you think that you’re prepared but you’re not, the experience of life is very important to cook better. You don’t have to worry, you don’t have to rush - wait for your moment and listen to your soul to know when is your moment to go further. In the meanwhile learn, learn and learn.”
“Young chefs first need to study their history - not just their dish or technique, but they have to have some background knowledge - to study things until they find their direction. I personally study a lot of Italian history around food - I feel very attached to the history of my country. For me this is the biggest thing for being a chef. The sensibility and creativity is very important but all of this should be directed by knowledge and a sense of balance. Young chefs try to copy the trends and not find an identity but I guess this is the same in all disciplines. The people who stand out are the ones with knowledge and sensibility.
“You just have to keep focused on cooking. Find a own way of presenting and seasoning dishes - your own personal way to show what you do. Don’t think about being a great chef - it should be a dream - but you should take care of the guests, take care of the plates and be a very hard working chef or you don’t reach the top. Finding your own identity takes a little bit of time - after a while you eventually start to go into a new direction and slowly find your own identity. You should look at what’s going on in the food world but listen to yourself and your own taste and not go running after every new trend.”
“Stay true to what your style is and definitely push the envelope - now is not the time to play it safe. Put it all out there and just go for it. The biggest mistake that a lot of young chefs make is to try and put every technique they have on the plate but a lot of it is about editing.”