There is something fascinating about
watching a chef who wields a knife with the dexterity of Jacques Pepin or
Martin Yan. They can reduce an onion to a pile of exquisitely even dice
within seconds. Acquiring the skills that enable you to handle a knife
with authority, to flip an omelet with finesse, or to poach a piece of
salmon in a court bouillon that appears to barely quiver is all part of a
There are many chefs today who learned
the basic of their craft by attending an accredited school. Under the
tutelage of experienced chefs, they begin a journey that starts with
simple skills, such as dicing onions and peeling carrots, and progresses
through the intricacies of preparing French pastries and such elaborate
composed dishes. Formal training in a school supplies a solid grounding in
basic and advanced culinary techniques. It also is a good laboratory where
you can become "fluent" in the language of the trade. There is no
substitute for experience, however. It is only with a great deal of
hands-on practice that class-learned theory becomes fully assimilated.
Others may begin their training as an
apprentice, either in a special apprenticeship program or a self-directed
course of study, advancing from kitchen to kitchen, learning at the side
of those chefs who are involved in the day-to-day business of running a
For most individuals, training is an
on-going matter. Whether you learn your trade in school, through an
apprenticeship program, or on the job, the responsibility for acquiring
that training is yours. It is never fully complete at any point in time.
Instead, it is achieved in a variety of guises, all of which are important
to your education at various stages throughout one's career.
Continuing education, once initial
training has been completed, is equally important, because the foodservice
industry is constantly evolving. Attending classes, workshops, and
seminars helps keep practicing cooks and chefs in step with new methods
and new styles of cooking, or serves to hone skills in specialized areas.
The more you keep abreast of changes
and new developments in the restaurant industry, the more clear the need
for continuing education becomes.