Go to culinary school. Learn the business. Be willing to work hard. This advice for would-be chefs comes from three top NYC chefs interviewed recently by the New York Daily News.
Culinary School Provides the Best Foundation
Christopher Lee, executive chef at Gilt, strongly recommends chef hopefuls attend culinary school. "Schooling gives you a foundation. It teaches you culinary vocabulary and product identification; it gives you the basics of what we do. We teach things in the restaurant, but we teach finishing skills, not basic skills." Lee says that the culinary industry is "not going to be very kind" to chefs without formal culinary school training.
Culinary Success Means Learning the Business
Charlie Palmer, chef and owner of Aureole, reminds culinary students that being a chef is as much about business as about artistry. "You need to fully understand the business, because at the end of the day it is a business. If someone wants to be successful as a chef, they have to take the time to understand that some of the failures come from someone becoming a pretty decent cook, but not understanding the financial makeup of a kitchen--the food costs, the labor costs."
A Chef's Work Ethic is Critical
Marcus Samuelsson, chef and co-owner of Aquavit and Riingo, says, "In the beginning, it's as simple as life skills: showing up on time or early, making sure you dress properly, addressing people that you work for properly. People want to do it the quick way, but it takes a long time before it's about you."
"It's all about work ethic, attitude, willingness to be there, commitment to yourself and to the industry. If you have all those things, this is a beautiful industry where you can go anywhere in the world or the country and be welcome."