In a continuation of our ‘Sandy’s Six‘ blog series, Executive Chef Sandy DiGiovanni at The Culinary Center of Kansas City shares a bit of insight from her wealth of culinary knowledge…
So you love to cook and are thinking about a culinary career. What next? How do you prepare? What should you do to see if this is really the right path for you? Before you find the nearest culinary school and get enrolled, here are the first six things I think you should do…
- Take a knife skills class.
Once you can handle a knife with confidence in the kitchen, you’ll feel like you can conquer the world. And you won’t feel completely comfortable in the kitchen until you do. (We offer a great Knife Skills class at The Culinary Center – just sayin’.)
- Get good knives.
Once you learn to properly use a knife, it’s time to find your very own set. Don’t cheap out. Look around and find the right knives for you, and buy the best you can afford. They’re worth the investment.
- Buy good shoes.
Much like the good knives, quality shoes are vital if you want to be a chef. You’re going to spend a whole lot of time on your feet. Buy shoes with sturdy support – trust me, you’ll be glad you did!
- Find a job in the industry.
Get a job in the food world before you consider going to culinary school. It’s the ‘real world’, baby. You need to see what it’s really like before you decide to commit. Start by working on the line. It’s not glamorous. You’ll learn the politics of the kitchen. Can you handle it? Can you handle the crazy hours and work days? Learn if you love it. If you do, you may have what it takes to be a chef.
- Experiment with foods.
Experience different kinds of food – eating them and preparing them. Decide if there’s a particular niche you prefer. Maybe pastries are your love. Maybe a specific style of cuisine. You might even find that you don’t need culinary school to pursue your passion.
- Find a mentor.
Volunteer somewhere, take classes, talk to chefs at restaurants. Get to know foodies in your area, and introduce yourself. If you find someone who you respect and who does what you want to do, get to know them. Learn what you can from them.
Bottomline, you have to have a passion for food if you’re going to be a chef. It’s not an easy industry, but as with anything, if you love, it’s worth it. Good luck to you, future chefs!