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20 Things Only Chefs Understand

20 Things Only Chefs Understand

Chefs do an incredible job under a huge amount of pressure. Here are 20 things only professional chefs will ever understand.

1. They want customers to be their friends and not their enemies

They know that customers are their friends but also their nemesis. If you are eating in a restaurant one of the most reliable options would be one of the chef specials as this is a popular dish made throughout the day. Also the chef will appreciate you choosing this dish!

2. They love to swear behind the scenes

They realize after the first three months on the job, that they now insert at least one swear word in every sentence they utter. This is the case whether in the kitchen or talking to the vicar after Sunday service.o

3. They know who to prioritise 

They know who they need to pay more attention to when both a celebrity and a restaurant critic walk through the door. Which do you think they give extra special service to? Find out in the Food Network’s survey of 25 things chefs never tell you.

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4. They don’t need the sunshine to shine!

They know that even during the summer months they will rarely ever see the sun, but it’s no problem, vitamin D is found in food too.

5. They have done their homework

They know that 65% of apprentice chefs go on to become fully qualified and that there are over a quarter of a million fellow chefs working in the UK. Almost 30,000 will join their ranks every year. Oaklands College explains what traits you need to successfully join them.

6. They know when to call it a day

They know that the finishing time is a moveable target. Depending on the level of authority, chefs have the power on choosing when to leave (in some cases).

7. They find the energy from somewhere!

They know that sleep was once their friend, but no more. If the shifts haven’t taught them that, the endless cups of coffee and cans of energy drinks have.

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8. They try and avoid cooking out of work

They know that they never cook at home. How many more hours standing over a chopping board or a stove can a person take?

9. They have the best communication skills

They know that they can communicate with virtually anyone and that they will form friendships in the kitchen with the unlikeliest of people, bonds which will last a lifetime.

10. They have the throne at dinner parties

They know that if they ever eat at non-chef friends’ houses, the person will have apologized at least four times for the quality of the meal before they even sit down to eat.

11. They just love food!

They know though that the quality of the meal cooked by their friend doesn’t matter. The joy they feel at the fact that someone else has prepped the meal and stood at the stove for hours outweighs any mistakes. That is apart, maybe, from actual food poisoning.

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12. They love their equipment a bit too much

They know just a little too much about knives, often having large posters on their walls about the many kinds and their uses. When you see a person with their own set of knives in a beautiful, but well used, hand stitched leather case you know they are either a chef or have something more worrying in mind.

13. They love a good laugh!

They know that a sense of humor is an essential requirement of the job. It falls just below the ability to cook but just above knife safety techniques.

14. They have the memory of a sieve

They have forgotten the names of more ingredients than you will ever know.

15. They never abandon the basics

They know that when you are learning to cook the recipe is all important if you want to create a successful dish. Once you are a senior chef it’s you who writes the recipes.

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16. They know preparation is everything

They know that heating the pan or the oven before starting to cook is essential.

17. They know what they should be getting paid

They know that the average starting salary of a commis chef is around $20,000 per annum, rising to $43,000 for a sous chef and $108,000 for an experienced London-based chef. For those who go on to run their own restaurants the figure is wide open and comes down to a delicate balance between their skill in the kitchen and their business acumen.

18. They love the taste in the process

They know that tasting the food as you cook is essential, especially for seasoning. Not tasting is akin to trying to sew a dress without ever looking at the pattern, or the material or the needle.

19. They know anyone can do the job

They know that while the prevailing view is that most chefs are male, in fact the ratio is much more equally balanced with 40% of chefs being female. This is apparent in the kitchens they experience every day.

20. They all want to reach the top

They know that the Head Chef does less cooking than all the other chefs and that their role is to oversee the kitchen, plan the menu, order the supplies, constantly check the quality of the food and plan what others are doing with military precision.

Featured photo credit: Three chefs – men and woman – in hotel or restaurant kitchen working and cooking in team via shutterstock.com

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James Timpson

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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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