Top 5 Dos (And 5 Definite Don’ts) for Smart Chefs

Although the skills aren’t hard to learn, finding happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment in continuously serving somebody else something good to eat makes an excellent restaurant. ― Mario Batali

Research indicates that restaurants can typically waste up to 10% of what they purchase—and wastage is, in itself, one of the top faux pas you can make as a chef. The culinary game is more than a science—it’s an art—one crafted over the years until your list of Dos is checked every night, and your list of Don’ts—well, who needs it? Below are vital Dos and 3 Don’ts to ensure your kitchen runs like clockwork.

Do Make the Most of “Waste”

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and the by-product from one food can be perfect for making another,” said Yotam Ottolenghi, and innovative chefs know the importance of making smart buys and putting what remains to use. Do by embracing strategies such as nose-to-tail and root-to-stem cooking, creative repurposing (turn those vegetables into frittata or leftover bread into croutons), and collaborating with local farmers or food banks so food has a second purpose. Honing techniques such as preservation, composting, and using inventory software wisely can also help. Find your inspiration in Noma, where René Redzepi and team use fermentation to preserve produce and extend its shelf life.

Do Go Beyond Your Comfort Zone

If you are into high-end cruise chafing, you may recall Leon, the Chef who served his classic “beef cheeks” to clients repeatedly—leading his bemused colleagues to wonder why he never ventures beyond the typical. While having traditional favorites in your menu ups the comfort factor for clients, pushing yourself beyond your limits is vital if you don’t want to be considered a “one-trick pony.” As stated by famed Chef Ferran Adria, “Creativity means not copying.” Creative dishes do not have to be overly complex or venture into molecular cuisine. It was also Ferran Adria who reminded chefs that sometimes, simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.

Don’t Limit Sustainability Measures to Renewable Energy and Water Saving

Sustainability and renewable energy are buzzwords in the restaurant industry. However, seemingly small mistakes like disposing of oil irresponsibly—for instance, by flushing it down a toilet—can clog pipes and result in significant expenses for maintenance and reparation and release harmful contaminants into the environment. Instead, intelligent chefs should adopt a comprehensive plan that includes everything from using designated oil disposal containers to setting up composting systems—especially if they grow their compost garden.

Don’t Neglect Your Equipment

It is vital to extend the life of kitchen equipment, ranging from knives to large machinery. In the case of knives, for instance, leaving this piece of equipment in the sink or running it through a dishwasher can dull the blade and shorten its lifespan. Chefs need to be on the ball and ensure they use the right tools, avoid overloading kitchen equipment beyond its capacity, and follow a strict maintenance and inspection schedule for all equipment.

Being a chef is a challenging job involving much more than pleasing diners. It involves facing many challenges, from keeping equipment in check to adopting sustainability measures. To ensure you rise to everyone, take time to plan, strategize, and prevent costly mistakes that could put a big dent in your yearly budget.

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