Being a great chef has a lot to do with attitude and personal characteristics. A successful chef is creative, calm, aware, clean, organized and willing to take a little criticism every now and then. While you might have some of these traits already, many can be learned in culinary school or after some real-world experience. However, being a super chef is also about the tools you bring to the job.
Without the right kitchen products, ingredients and apparel, it's not always easy to whip up excellent cuisine that your restaurant's customers will keep coming back for. If you're ready to embark on a career as a chef, be sure to equip yourself with the following things.
1. Non-slip chef shoes
As they say, safety first! As you probably know, things can get pretty crazy in a bustling kitchen full of chefs, sous chefs, waiters and waitresses, prep people and dishwashers. While your employer will be sure to have safety measures in place like nonslip floor mats in front of the sink, plenty of trash bins and informative signage, it may be your responsibility to obtain your own slip-resistant shoes. Chef shoes come in all manner of styles, colors and sizes and can have several features, like nonslip soles, safety toes, an electrical hazard rating, puncture-resistant material and even vegan materials for those who work in vegan restaurants! With the right footwear, you won't have to worry about slips and falls on the job.
2. A set of knives
Ask any chef and he or she will tell you that knives are a chef's best friend. Green technology and design website Inhabitat recommended equipping yourself with forged-steel knives, which are best for easy slicing, dicing and chopping. They're sturdy, bend-resistant and are easy to sharpen compared to other materials. You may want to start out with the basics: an 8-inch chef's knife, slicer, utility knife and parer. Depending on the type of cuisine you cook, you may need a few more models to round out your set.
3. High-quality cutting boards
Food prep is often a work of art, and it can't be accomplished on any old surface. Do yourself a favor and make sure your establishment has an assortment of high-quality cutting boards. They'll help you maximize hygiene in the kitchen and keep your ingredients still as you have at them with your knives. Wooden cutting boards are best for fruits and veggies, while plastic ones are good for keeping everything sanitized when you're handling meat. Bamboo boards are becoming more popular, according to Inhabitat, because they resist scarring and water penetration.
4. Sturdy pots and pans
A wide assortment of pots and pans are necessary for any restaurant. Ensure that your kitchen has a top-notch selection with every size you need. Cast-iron pans are many chefs' favorites, as they're great for cooking food evenly and consistently, according to Food Network. A well-seasoned, cast-iron pan also offers a stick-resistant surface that can cut down on the amount of oil you use, which could help when you're making low-calorie dishes. The rest of the pots and pans should have heavy bottoms, noted Food Network, which will ensure sufficient heat distribution and less sticking and burning.
5. Mandoline slicer
Every great chef knows that even with the most impressive knife skills on the planet, you still don't want to waste time slaving over repetitive cutting tasks and super-thin slices. A mandoline makes quick work of these jobs and can easily accomplish thin slices that are perfect for things like vegetable chips. Julienne and crinkle cuts are also made simple with this device, which can improve the presentation of your dishes.