Back of House spoke to four veteran industry Chefs to see what advice they had for young Chefs who are at the beginning of their careers.
Sam Burke is a well known and respected name in the hospitality industry, with a career spanning over 20 years. Having worked in a diverse range of commercial kitchens and businesses, including with commercial catering giant Spotless, Sam now works as the Business Manager Foodservice and Corporate Chef at MLA and offered the following advice:
“Becoming a Chef is a big decision it's not all easy, long unsociable hours, pressures of producing a great product day in day out, in some cases the pay may not be all that great when you start off.
But if you have the determination, hard work ethic and passion the trade will reward you with many opportunities in life: A passport to work almost anywhere in the world, a job that involves continual learning opportunities and great rewards.
Whether you’re in a cafe, a QSR outlet, bustling pub, club/hotel, fine dining establishment or commercial caterer you have the opportunity to bring great happiness to people's lives through the wonderful cuisine you can prepare.
And that is my biggest reward as a Chef”.
Graham Krueger has a large group of young Chefs in his brigade, managing multiple kitchens and venues for the Wests Leagues Club, ranging from bistro dining to catering for large functions. He offered some advice to young Chefs about some of the sacrifices a Chef needs to make. “Spend mother’s day with you mum give her a big kiss because it’s the last one you will spend with her if you become a Chef”. He said.
“There’s going to be hard days, be prepared for that”.
But there is a great feeling of accomplishment when catering for large functions, he went on to say. “There’s nothing better than getting a 500 plate function from person 1 to 500 and everything looks immaculate you just come away with that feeling of accomplishment”. Watch the full video here.
Mark Baylis has over 25 years’ experience and has worked across all areas in the foodservice industry including being Head Chef at Milsons Restaurant when it received a coveted “Chefs Hat” as part of the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide. Mark offered the following advice:
“The advice I would give to young people wanting to carve out a career as a Chef would be that it is important you have untold passion for food and be single minded about it.
Even as a young boy, all I can remember was that all I wanted to become was a Chef. No other career path entered my brain.
It has to be in your DNA otherwise it will be a tough journey. You will be required to work most weekends and holidays when most people are off relaxing. It is quite common to work more than a 50-hour weeks with up to 70 hours in some cases with split shifts, so it isn’t for the faint hearted!
Your work colleagues will become your friends, you’ll go through thick and thin together. Put it this way, you will most likely meet your future partner in the game! I did!
If I had the chance to start over again? I would not change a thing. I would still have become a Chef”.
Colm offered his advice for young Chefs and the many misconceptions people have about being a Chef. “There’s a lot of glamour on television, there’s a lot of glamourous cooking shows and people get the idea they are going to be glamourous, they’re going to be famous but it’s not that way at all”. He said.
“It’s a tough, tough job you have to do the hard yards, you can’t just pop up in this industry and work 2-3 years and you’re writing a cookbook and you’re on TV sitting back sipping champagne, you have to do the hard yards. Just ask Marco Pierre White!”