The Hospitality Guru (cooking) Back to Basics

At a time when culinary apprenticeships have been sliced & diced to meet the skill shortages & there’s abundant work in our industry for just about anyone, then its not surprising there is a lack of technical knowledge with young cooks & aspiring chefs, straight out of cooking school. The situation here in Australia is no doubt similar to the rest of the world. Its up to you to get trained & up to speed & if your good enough & willing to put in the time, then maybe, just maybe, the really good chefs might show some interest in your training. But, a great deal of work has to be done by you before that’s going to happen; first you have to know the basics well enough so the information is automatic – this stuff is mandatory. So, why am I sharing this with you?

I’ve always been an avid note taker. While most chefs keep a little black book of their secret recipes, I’ve taken detailed notes throughout my training & jotted down every golden tip & hint I got from some amazing chefs who invested a lot of time in my success, they were great teachers – sadly, the act of Chefs training & sharing their knowledge doesn’t happen too much anymore in our industry. Over the space of a decade while I worked in kitchens, I shared this information with my staff & implemented the systems I learnt in my (Cooking) Back to Basics series, so I know it works.

Even though these days, I’ve been seduced into cushy hospitality management roles & no longer run a team of chefs, I’ve decided to share this information with you all. Its my gift to anyone who wants to know (Cooking) Back to Basics information you should have learnt in your apprenticeships, this stuff is absolutely required if you want to cook professionally and be taken seriously by your peers.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m was never a fan of the rough ‘n tough culture of a commercial kitchen, its a tough environment & if your truly passionate about cooking professionally, then your probably not going to go anywhere unless you come to grips with the facts – your knowledge base is sketchy & chances are your Chefs are dangerously set in their ways & not particularly tolerant of your opinions. Put simply, few Chefs are going to stop & gently instruct you on the basics, & if you mix up your brunoise & have no idea what fonds blanc is, then you’d better pay attention.

As Anthony Bourdain so aptly said in his book ‘Kitchen Confidential’.

Male, female, gay, straight, legal, illegal, country of origin – who cares? You can either cook an omelette or you can’t. You can either cook five hundred omelettes in three hours – like you said you could, and like the job requires – or you cant. There’s no lying in the kitchen”.

This series is dedicated to the aspiring cooks & chefs around the world who for one reason or another want to learn the necessarily basic information that most are not willing to teach but everyone expects you to know. I’ve included a number of links in each post that will bring you to articles that further expand on the subject with how-to photographs & videos in the (Cooking)Back to Basics series.

Knowledge is one thing but only practice will hone your craft – that’s your job.

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