Staying On Top Of Your Game

Its three days later and I am still shaking off the effects of the weekend. We did 600 covers in about three hours. I gave my AM Sous Chef the day off? His kids are young and mine are grown so I didn't mind doing the work, but I was cemented to the line and did not move for almost 10 hours. It was out of control, but in spite of the economy it was very encouraging to see so many people come out and spending money.


I was off yesterday but ended up spending most of the day working from home trying to close the financials for the month. It would be nice just to be able to cook all day, but the fact is results count. If you can’t run the numbers, you can’t run the business and you won’t last long. Even the most successful chefs have got to wonder what they will need to do to stay on top of their game. Running the business, keeping yourself contemporary and your food exciting is a full time commitment.

Chefs my age who are moving into the autumn of their lives may be especially challenged and vulnerable. If you don’t cook on a daily basis or challenge yourself to develop new skills and techniques you may soon find yourself obsolete. I can tell you first hand stories of many one time successful chefs who spent too many years in the office living in denial about their own skill sets. Many lived vicariously through the abilities and successes of subordinates only to find that time has passed them by. A starched snow white tunic with an impressive line of abbreviated credentials may no longer garner the respect it once had. If you want to stay on top of your game you will need to devote time to self improvement. Here are a few suggestions that may get you started.

Know the competition and the expectations of your existing and potential customer base. Eat at a variety of restaurants and most importantly your competition to keep in touch with what’s happening out there.

Read, surf, and study everything and anything you can get in front of you. Don’t believe what people tell you, you can’t have it all, there’s so much happening out there and only so many hours in a day. If you neglect this ever-changing information you are short changing yourself of the potential it holds.

Take a continuing education course if you can. It’s a great way to not only acquire new techniques but revisit areas of your repertoire that may need a tune up such as baking, garde mange or charcuterie.

Compete in industry contests and culinary competitions to test your skills. Each time I compete I learn something new about my abilities and weakness’s. It also introduces new products and techniques to our repertoire.

Attend industry related vendor shows, seminars, ACF events and a whole host of other available and inexpensive resources.

Take advantage of the broad range of experience and diversity you probably have right in your own kitchen. Chef tables, specials and buffets are all great ways to showcase and incorporate these authentic items into your menus.

Most importantly, whatever avenues you choose hold yourself responsible for your own success.