“The chef to go” is a word that conjures up images of chefs, of a chef’s kitchen.
For many people, though, there’s more to it than that.
A chef’s job is to create and serve meals to people.
It’s to be the first person on the plate, and to help people.
That means that the chef has to be prepared for the unexpected and learn to be an advocate for a cause, too.
“The way you’re going to build a successful career as a chef is to be willing to change,” says David Rutter, a chef and a fellow at the Culinary Institute of America.
“It’s not to be perfect.
It has to change in ways that make sense.”
That’s why it’s important to be a good advocate, too, says Rutter.
“I think you want to have an understanding of the way people have been impacted by what you’re doing, and what you can do to make a difference,” he says.
So to start, it’s helpful to start with the basics.
For starters, it helps to understand what makes a chef great.
“You have to know what the ingredients are,” says Ritter.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t know what a dish is or how it’s made.
And so I just start with what’s in the dish, what’s the history of it, and I just look at all the people who’ve eaten that dish and how they’ve reacted to it.
I don’t need to be teaching you how to make the sauce.
I just need to teach you what’s good about that dish.”
The next step is to start asking questions.
“Ask what makes that dish unique,” says John Ritter, author of the book What Every Chef Should Know.
“What does the chef do to inspire others?
What do the cooks who make that dish feel?
Are they inspired by what they’re doing?
What are their expectations?
Do they want to be part of that movement?”
Then you’ll start learning about your peers, how they’re performing, what they like, and the chefs you know that are doing it the right way.
“They’re going out and doing the thing that’s inspiring,” Ritter says.
“That’s when you start getting to know the chef, and you start asking the questions that will help you better understand their vision.”
This is where the art of advocacy comes in.
“When I go out and talk to people about something,” Rutter says, “I’m going to want to hear from them what they think about the way I do things.”
Then, Ritter adds, “It gives me the chance to listen and learn from what they have to say.”
For instance, Rutter and his wife, Amanda, who runs the Culpeper-based Culinary Connection, have done a lot to educate their customers about the food at their restaurants.
“If I tell someone about something that I think is going to be really great, I’ll be able to explain it to them, and maybe they’ll be like, ‘OK, but why is this going to take so long?'”
They also encourage customers to find a local cookbook or magazine, because “the chef’s name is usually the first thing that comes up in your mind when you think of a restaurant.”
Then you get to talk to the chefs.
“We’re always asking our chefs what they really think about our work,” Ruter says.
Rutter advises restaurants to start conversations with their chefs.
And he says, ask them what makes them feel good.
“People are like: ‘I don’t have a good chef, so why do I care?'”
“And you know what?
We’re not the problem.
We’re the problem, and we’re always trying to do better.”
What You Can Do: Learn the basics of cooking in 2017.
Get to know your fellow chefs.
Take the next step by taking on a role in a community project.
“A lot of times people think that chefs don’t talk to each other,” says Amanda Ritter of the Cul, Pho.
“But they do.”
“The Cul is about working with your peers,” says Daniel Pate of the Food and Wine Institute.
“All the people we serve are all doing something that we think is really good and worthy.
If you’re one of those chefs, I encourage you to come out and speak to people who you might not know and make a statement.
And if you’re not one of the chefs, then come talk to us, too.”
What to Look For in 2017: “What makes that chef great?” is one of my favorite questions to ask a chef, says Amanda.
It gives them an idea of what you need to know, but also gives you a chance to think outside the box and learn more about the world of cooking.
And that’s good, too: “It