4 tips for head chefs to inspire creativity in the kitchen

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One of the most challenging aspects of heading a commercial kitchen is constantly creating exciting new dishes. As the head chef, most of this responsibility falls on you, but at times, you may need help from other members of the kitchen staff.

Encouraging and inspiring creativity among other chefs can be difficult because traditionally, restaurant menus are left determined the head chef. However, allowing others the opportunity to exercise their own culinary muscles and giving them credit for it can ease the pressure from your shoulders and provide a learning environment for aspiring young chefs.

Recognize the potential
Climbing any career ladder can be hard, but it might be especially difficult for people who want to become head chef one day. After all, it's a competitive business and it may be hard to find a workspace where they're able to share original recipes or ideas. Here are four tips for inspiring culinary creativity in the kitchen.

1. Provide guidance: Aspiring chefs can start out in any position, from being a dishwasher to working as a line cook or even a busser . Depending on their level of familiarity with handling food, certain people who want to become chefs may not have the knowledge or skills to work with and develop dishes. After all, there are so many ingredients and so much work put into a dish that guidance and advice from a professional like yourself will be welcome.

2. Brainstorm: Though you may have plenty of ideas for new offerings, there are bound to be ones that you haven't considered. Gathering the team together for a brainstorming session every few weeks or once a month is a good way to build rapport with everyone in the kitchen. It also bolsters the teamwork mentality, which is an important aspect of running a safe and efficient workspace.

3. Pitch themes: If kitchen employees are having trouble coming up with ideas, you can provide them with sources of inspiration, such as focusing on an ingredient, creating different sauces for a single dish or trying out different ethnic foods or spices. You can rest assured knowing that aspiring chefs and diners alike will love the new dishes that make it to the menu.

4. Create feature dishes: Restaurant best practice involves having tried-and-true favorites that stay on the menu as well as feature dishes that change every few weeks. This is the perfect opportunity to spotlight the talent of other staff members in the kitchen. You as the head chef will still have the most items represented on the menu, but you're also giving some exposure to others. 

Implementing such ideas into the kitchen will take time and experimentation, but once everyone gets used to the new routine, the tasks will become easier and it will create a stronger team mentality and a more welcoming environment.

Regardless of whether or not everyone in the kitchen moves on to become a head chef, they're bound to learn essential skills and culinary knowledge from you. Speak to the general manager to figure out the best way to begin incorporating these ideas. You want to ensure that the changes won't negatively affect the overall operations. Although this will only take place in the kitchen, it will have an impact on the rest of the restaurant, so speaking to the entire staff will be a good idea, especially if you want to gain the attention of others in the restaurant who hope to move into the kitchen.

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