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Our Chefs’ Best Advice For Young Cooks

Spurred by our growing obsession with food and the prolific personalities behind it, there is no denying that a career in the culinary arts holds more allure than ever before. Once seen mainly as a blue-collar trade for manual labourers, the chef title nowadays seems to be cast by media and pop culture alike in a halo of glamour and prestige. But as any seasoned veteran will tell you, working in a kitchen these days is no less demanding, and nothing can replace hard work and heart on the pathway to success.

At Black Sheep Restaurants, we are always on the lookout for fresh talent with the drive, work ethic, and passion for what they do. And for those able to sweat it out with the best of us, the personal and professional rewards—from finding cooking as a creative outlet to the camaraderie you build in the kitchen—extend far beyond 10 seconds of fleeting food fame. We asked a handful of our seasoned veterans for their best advice for aspiring young cooks, and they all agreed on the key formula for success: remain humble, hard-working and curious.

Patricia Yeo, Head of Culinary
I always tell young cooks to travel; eat everything on your travels and read, read, read. Get your hands on cookbooks, especially those written back in the 60’s and 70’s. You can arm yourself with infinite knowledge well before even stepping foot in the kitchen by reading the works of writers like Claudia Roden, Elisabeth David, Patricia Quintana, and more contemporary ones like James Oseland, Fuchsia Dunlop and Coleman Andrews.

Palash Mitra, New Punjab Club
My best advice to up-and-coming chefs is to not learn how to cook from Instagram, as tempting as it may be to replicate what you see is trending or popular. After all, nothing is as it seems in a photo or on social media. Instead, read books, prepare to work hard, eat out as often as you can to broaden your horizons—and party later!

Jack Carson, Carbone
If you don’t really love it and aren’t willing to give it everything, you will have wasted time spent learning this craft when you eventually quit. It’s an “all in” kind of business that you have to completely immerse yourself in. Being underpaid for the first part is reality. Be humble—it’s the only asset you can afford when you don’t know what you don’t know. And remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Josef Gallenberger, Buenos Aires Polo Club
Keep on working hard, and learn as much as you can from other chefs—we are all here to help mentor, teach and encourage those who join our ranks! Always work with your heart—nothing can replace pure passion and authenticity in the kitchen. 

Luca Marinelli, Osteria Marzia
A lot of young cooks may come in thinking that in a couple of years they will be a Chef, but in my mind I always think that I am a cook, no matter how many years I’ve been in this business. I want to come in every day with an open mind to learn as much as I can and keep evolving… and eventually when I retire, at that moment I can consider myself a Chef. The job is hard, make no mistake, but incredibly rewarding. So work hard and be able to dream big!

Gizzy Alesbrook, Hotal Colombo
Soak up all the advice and techniques that you can, and ask a lot of questions. Try everything once, even the tasks or stations that you think you won’t enjoy. Move out of your comfort zone, take risks and last of all, enjoy what you are doing!

Billy Otis, Taqueria Super Macho
Work in a high-end restaurant to get a taste of what a real kitchen is and find out if this is the type of work you really want to do. If you like working in kitchens, pursue it with a thirst and a passion. Do stages (trials) in different restaurants and read various food periodicals/cookbooks to build your knowledge. You are either all the way in or all the way out.

 

Think you have what it takes? Whether you are an aspiring chef, a front-of-house professional, or a sommelier with a thirst for discovering new wines, we are always seeking new talent to join our community. Find out more about our weekly recruiting events here.

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