1. Expert Level CookingSkills
From knowing the best way to filet a specific type of fish to the cooking time needed for the perfect steak, head chefs need to be experts on it all. The kitchen staff looks to the head chef for guidance. Head chefs need to be experts in everything involving food prep. In many cases, head chefs are responsible for developing menu items. This activity requires expert knowledge of dishes, techniques, and flavor attributes.
2. Knowledge of Ingredients
An imperative skill for any type of kitchen manager is having a knowledge of flavors, cooking times and shelf lives of all ingredients that are used in the kitchen. Managing ingredient shelf lives is crucial in a food service environment, as serving ingredients that have expired can lead to food poisoning and other health problems for guests.
3. Leadership Ability
As the commander and chief of the kitchen, the head chef must be able to lead the employees that are working under them. This includes delegating tasks according to skill level and correcting cases of employee misconduct. Kitchen managers need to be able to motivate their staff so that they can get the best quality product out of combining each worker’s strengths.
4. Business Management Skills
For most chefs, the job doesn’t end when they leave the kitchen. In many establishments, chefs are responsible for business paperwork in addition to supervising the kitchen. This work can include placing orders for ingredients as well as work orders to fix broken equipment. Chefs need to understand basic accounting principles to properly record kitchen related expenses.
5. Time Management Skills
When working in a professional kitchen, the goal is always to serve the best quality food in the shortest amount of time. The head chef needs to know how to ensure that dishes are prepared in the shortest possible time frame. This involves managing multiple kitchen aspects simultaneously to maximize efficiency.
The job of head chef is one that many times includes strict deadlines and long hours. In most cases, the kitchen is a high pressure, stressful environment. Head chefs must be one hundred percent committed to their jobs. They need to be okay with the possibility that it will take away from a lot of their free time, including night and weekend hours. The key to getting through the stresses related to this high ranking position are a true commitment to food and a passion for their jobs.
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