Being a Chef – Qualities and Passion

What qualities do you need to make it as a chef? What does it mean to be in control of food and people’s enjoyment of food? We hear answers from our resident expert…

For me, being a chef means having culture. You have to read and study a lot, but you also need a good imagination and a mind for a bit of fantasy. You are always trying to cook something different with innovation – you can’t do that without imagination.

It is also always helpful to be forward-thinking, with your mind often pointed towards the future. For many chefs, the dishes they create can help them mould their future careers. Working in a professional kitchen isn’t something you learn overnight; you pick up new things every day. Even the best chefs in the world are always learning.

The true secret of all secrets in being a chef is having an “international feeling”, or at least an appreciation for every culture and cuisine from every country in the world. That way, you’re tasting and cooking new things all the time. After that, you can find and inject your style into every recipe and the presentation – creating something amazing as a result!

Apple Tarte Tatin Apple Tatin and vanilla & blackberry ice cream with apple kiwi salsa

My first dish that I truly injected my style into was an Apple Tarte Tatin. Fitting that it should happen by accident, since the Apple Tarte Tatin itself was created by accident. I was just playing around with the sauces; putting brandy in the caramel for example. What I created at the end (see pictured) was not just food, it was art.

In my opinion, the best thing to do is find something that challenges you and work and study it. French cuisine is the one that first challenged me. I was shocked when I first tried a terrine dish. So I began studying and making new French dishes every day.

When you’ve been doing that for a while, you discover your strengths, preferences and style that you can apply in other cuisines. After studying French cuisine, I realised that oriental cuisines – especially Japan – are better.

What dishes do you find challenging? And what qualities do you think a chef needs? Leave your opinions in the comments section below!

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