There is no real secret formula to being a great chef; some people have it and others just don’t. It’s probably the same reason some of us are arty – and can create something wonderful when a pencil hits a sheet of paper – and others are instead great problem solvers.
Often, skills like cooking can be as much in our blood as they are a part of the experiences we’ve been accustomed to growing up. Someone with a gifted chef for a parent, for example, is bound to pick up a few hints and tips along the way. But as with any skill, there’s always someone for whom it just comes naturally regardless.
That said, if you haven’t got the right tools to do the job, you’ll struggle to keep up in the kitchen. And there are, of course, certain things you can do – and a few things you can get hold of – to give you a head start. Here’s what you’ll need if you’re aiming to make it to Masterchef level:
Chef’s Whites – First thing first, it’s important you wear the right gear in the workplace. Slipping into a chef’s standard uniform – chef’s trousers, hat and apron – will quickly get you in the right mindset and may even help give you the additional drive you need to succeed. Of course, wearing a hat and an apron are important for hygiene reasons, too – particularly if you’re preparing food for others. Get into the habit of always wearing chef’s whites now and it’ll come second nature to you if you ever end up cooking for a living. A well-presented chef is bound to give diners – particularly in restaurants with an open kitchen – a great first impression of the premises and the food.
A Good Set of Knives – If you’re looking for leisure jobs like a chef’s role, there are a few basics you might need before you get going. Many chefs have their own set of knives – and this is often a requirement for anyone embarking on a culinary course. These will need to be purchased from specialist suppliers, so do check with your course tutor beforehand who may be able to help you order them on your behalf. Sticking with the hygiene theme, ensuring you only use certain knives for certain foods is not only a good idea in terms of preventing cross-contamination, it’ll help you best prepare different cuts of meat, too.
Chopping Boards – Again, for hygiene reasons, chef’s tools like chopping boards are organised by colour. This helps chefs determine how and where a certain type of food should be prepared. A green chopping board, for instance, is reserved for fruit and veg only, with a red board being only for raw meat. It’s hugely important you learn which chopping board to use at all times; being a chef comes with its responsibility and you have a huge duty to your diners to ensure food poisoning is not on the menu with your evening’s dish!