Sometimes one of the most frustrating parts of being in culinary school is knowing what you want to do after graduation but having to wait and learn the skills you need to get there. Well, take a deep breath and keep reading. While culinary school is a means of learning how to cook and run a food business, it’s also a unique opportunity to jumpstart your future career. By taking advantage of your time in culinary school, you can prepare for a successful career as a professional chef, special events caterer, or even a food truck owner.
1. Think Outside of the Box
Creativity and culinary are like peanut butter and jelly; they go hand in hand. Own your creative thoughts and when you’re inspired by someone else, give credit where it’s due.
2. Work Smarter, Not Harder
Before you start a big task, break it down into smaller steps and mentally walk through how you’re going to accomplish each one. Doing so will help you pinpoint a trick or two so you can do your job better (and more quickly!). For example, using a cart to transport trays of food instead of carrying them by hand one at a time is not only faster, it also decreases the likelihood of dropping and ruining the food you worked so hard to prepare.
3. Remember Your Team Comes First
The art of culinary is not a solo feature, it’s a team sport. Support the weak links and gravitate to the stars. Doing so will make you a better leader, culinarian, and chef. The food service industry is based on togetherness, so start dedicating yourself to your team now.
4. Stay Humble
Many culinary students contract a “Delusion of Grandeur” once they graduate. Remember that you can always improve. Even the best chefs after 40 or more years of experience embrace additional learning.
5. Be Observant
Pay attention to what the chefs are doing at all times. The tips you’ll find most helpful are often not in their words, but in their actions. Also, when going on field trips to a commercial kitchen like those in a convention center, hotel, restaurant, food truck, etc. make sure you take note of what is happening in those places. In other words, be on the lookout for how a real commercial kitchen operates and make a mental note of what they do well.
6. Network with the Professionals
While you’re at those establishments, make an attempt to acquire contacts and get in good with the executive chef. If you make him or her smile, you might have a chance of getting in a very good position once you’re out of school. Making contacts is one of the best assets of a hands-on culinary program.