20 Culinary Skills That Every Great Chef Must Have

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20 Culinary Skills That Every Great Chef Must Have

Everyone in the culinary field, from home cooks to Michelin star professional chefs, consistently hear about culinary skills. Culinary abilities help individuals in the cooking and food service industry immensely.

They increase your ability to make delicious foods, win over clients, and build long term relationships with those clients. However, too many individuals do not find building culinary skills a priority. Even chefs and culinary students do not realize the many benefits of this skillset.

However, finding your current culinary preparation and management skills does not have to be complicated. In this article, we will reveal why culinary abilities are so important and a few ways you can acquire them.

20 Culinary Skills That Every Great Chef Must Have

What are Culinary Skills?

It is tempting to immediately begin finding your culinary strengths and building new culinary techniques. However, you should understand what these skills are first. In general, culinary skills are any ability that increase your efficiency and food quality when you are working.

If a chef is using a culinary skill, their entire service team is benefitted. The customer gets a higher quality end product, too.

These skills play a role in many aspects of restaurant management and food development. For example, they could help you run a more safe operation of your restaurant. You could become more passionate in the culinary arts, too.

So, as long as a trait or strategy benefits your cooking operation in some way, it can be considered a culinary strength.

Why Is it Important To Recognize Culinary Skills & Their Benefits?

There are a plethora of reasons to focus on building your culinary skills. If you are a chef, knowing how to use this skillset is absolutely crucial to your success in this industry.

Without these abilities, you will miss out on clients, decrease your satisfaction, and might even feel like quitting. To avoid these negative consequences, you should find what your current culinary abilities are and build upon them. The benefits of doing this include:

  • Being able to attend nationally-accredited culinary education centers that can help your career
  • Finding the proper techniques for approach food related problems and preparing dishes
  • Ensuring you respect food culture and the different countries different dishes come from
  • Boosting your passion for making food and ensuring you are committed to your job
  • Increasing your confidence in your abilities, which helps you stand out from the crowd
  • Allows you to think more creatively and produce unique food products
  • Decrease EY our likelihood of getting hurt on the job
  • Decrease your stress and increase your job satisfaction for the long term
  • Build long-lasting relationships with your clients and become memorable 
  • Create a positive work environment that keeps your employees focused on your goals

20 Examples of Culinary Skills

There are many different types of skills chefs use in their daily lives. All of them would count as culinary abilities, but they can be further categorized.

There are countless different types of culinary abilities, and each chef has their unique skillset. A few of the most common and important culinary abilities include:

1. Chopping skills

Chopping is something you will probably do every day as a chef. Whether it be a carrot, onion, or beef filet, you will need to have strong knife skills. If you do not, you risk getting injured. No one wants to accidentally lose a finger nail (or worse).

So take the time to learn chopping skills, and you will avoid these unpleasant consequences.

2. General knife skills

Chopping is a very important knife skill. However, knife skills are about more than just chopping. You should also know how to properly hold a knife and how to sharpen one, too.

A sharp knife can help you add texture to food and perfect the final touches on your dishes. Dull knives are often difficult to work with and could cause frustration.

3. Marketing

There are thousands of different restaurants within just a single city. You need to effectively market yourself so customers know your business exists.

Not only that, but you will also have to articulate why they should visit your business over all the other competitors. Having effective marketing attracts new clients and boosts revenue immensely.

4. Creativity

If you were wondering how to add an extra touch to your menu or marketing plan, try thinking creatively! This is a great way to set yourself apart from the crowd. You could design your restaurant in a unique way or add interesting diets to your menu. Customers generally like innovation and novelty.

5. Design

Design skills are also crucial for chefs. If you want to sow customers, you must create a certain environment within your restaurant. It should be welcoming and unique.

Having design skills can truly help you then. Also, your design skills contribute to making the restaurant experience more memorable for clients. Even small fixtures and menu details can manage an impact.

6. Leadership

The best restaurant managers have amazing leadership skills. They know how to energize their teams and keep them focused.

If you cannot get your team excited about making and serving food, you may run into some trouble with customer service. This leads to bad reviews and a bad reputation. To avoid this, ensure you spend time talking with team members and making sure they are fulfilled.

7. Attention to detail

The small details do leave an impression on your customers! Think about it: when you enter a fine dining restaurant, you notice the little gold fixtures on your seats, the intricate designs on the walls, the unique font on the menu, the extra attention from waiters, and more.

These are all small details, but when added together, they truly make the experience elevated.

8. Problem solving

No matter how hard you try to avoid problems, you will still encounter them at some point. You need to know how to effectively manage these problems when they do come up.

Change your problem-solving strategy based on the parties involved and the type of problem. Ensure you listen to both sides and think about the long term when making decisions.

9. Commitment

Many restaurant owners wait for years to see any success. Some have to try multiple times, and even have to shut down some restaurants, to finally succeed. But, in the long run, it is worth it.

The most successful people in this industry and committed to their work. They know it takes time to reach success, and they accept that. This is simply their passion, so they do not mind waiting for success.

10. Taking risks

When you open your first restaurant, there is no guarantee of success. There is no guarantee you will find employees or customers. But, you will likely have to go into debt. These facts are not meant to scare you.

Instead, they are meant to highlight the fact that restaurant owners must take risks to find success. If you are someone who lives in their comfort zone, the restaurant industry is not suited to you.

11. Open-minded

Being too arrogant as someone in the restaurant business reflects poorly on your reputation. If customers have input, listen to their feedback. After all, they paid for their meal, and they are the people who decide if your business succeeds or fails.

Do not put your ego above the customer’s needs. If they say something was done poorly, make note of it and change it when possible. Ensure the consumer feels heard and encouraged to revisit.

12. Financial management and business skills

If you want to own your own restaurant, you will need to learn how to manage a business. This includes learning about accounting, management, finance, and more.

Knowing your finances can help you stay within a reasonable budget so you do not take uncalculated risks.

13. Passion and motivation

What separates a chef from a cook? Besides better technical skills, it is passion. Some cooks view their job as just that: just another job.

But the greatest names in the culinary industry understand that their work is much more important. It is about connecting people to their culture and introducing unique opportunities to them. This keeps them motivated and passionate, even when times are tough.

14. Discipline

It is easy to get distracted. Every day, it seems like there is a new food fad popping opulent on the internet. But, if you are committed to a certain cuisine or style, you should not sacrifice your message for a few extra dollars.

Staying disciplined also means being focused on your goals. You should ensure restaurant management and growth is your top priority.

15. Knowledge of flavors

You need to know what flavors work together when designing a menu. You should not randomly create dishes just for the fun of it. The end goal should be to appeal to your customers. Also consider who your customer is and what flavors they like.

If you are in the South, dishes that combine sweet and sour (like chicken and waffles) are probably great for your menu. But if your customers are traditional Orthodox Jews, that may not be the best route to take.

16. Adaptability

Customers like the word ‘custom.’ You have probably seen it on many menus. If you can add the option of a build your own item or more adaptable options, consider doing so. It will likely attract more customers. After all, people like it when they know what is going in to their food.

They like it when food is made for their specific needs. It makes them feel heard and catered to well, which positively reflects on your establishment.

17. Nutrition knowledge

You do not have to be a nutritionist to start a restaurant. But, having a basic understanding of nutrition could be quite helpful. Many customers want healthy food. You should at least consider offering some healthy options to be more inclusive.

Try to also be aware of common allergens and ensure customers are aware of any cross-contamination in your kitchen. You do not want customers complaining after getting sick or having an allergic reaction. Also, avoid excessive and unhealthy additives like MSG when you can.

18. Organization and planning

Organization and planning will allow you to boost your efficiency and productivity. With seemingly some little time to accomplish so much, it can make a huge difference. Being more organized can also boost your management skills and decrease your stress.

To become a more organized chef, clean up your workstations. Ensure you know where your materials are stored. Finally, start using planners and think about the next day at least a night in advance.

19. Stress management

Working in the line, or in any position in a restaurant for that manner, can get quite stressful. Knowing how to manage this stress is absolutely crucial for staying satisfied and fulfilled in this industry. There are numerous ways to decrease stress.

You could begin each day with affirmations, practice mindfulness, try deep breathing, and remind yourself of why you love your job. Experiment with these strategies to see which (or a combination of which) works best for you.

20. Product knowledge

You should be well aware of where you source your materials from. Ensure that these providers are aligned with your mission, too. Try to avoid mass-produced meat factories when you can. Some customers make it a priority to eat ethically, so ensure you think about that consumer base when choosing where to source products.

How To Identify Your Culinary Skills?

Now that you know of the many different types of culinary abilities, you are likely thinking about what you can do to get these amazing skills.

There is some good news: you probably already have some! And, you do not need to spend tremendous sums of money to uncover which specific skills you have currently.

How To Identify Your Culinary Skills

There are ways to find your culinary skills without spending a single dime. And, these methods also accurately depict your strengths within a very short period of time. One of these top strategies is taking the HIGH5 test and online strengths assessment which takes just 20 minutes or less to complete.

There are numerous other startups people use to find their culinary strengths. You could try asking customers for feedback on what they enjoyed about the restaurant experience, for instance.

This can reveal what you already do well and what needs to be worked on. However, this takes much more time than just taking the HIGH5 test, although you can certainly do both.

How To Improve Culinary Skills

After you get an understanding of your existing culinary abilities, it is now time to further grow upon these skills. When finding a way to approach strength development, many people decide to focus on turning their weaknesses into strengths.

But, this is ultimately the wrong approach. Not only is it inefficient, but it also damages your motivation, stamina, and confidence.

But, there is another approach you could take: a strengths-based approach. By focusing on further developing your existing strengths, you can become a better leader and restaurant owner while also staying confident.

There are numerous ways to incorporate a strengths-based approach in your work. For one, you could start by asking customers for feedback. Notice what they like most about your business, and double down on that.

Ensure you have a solid understanding of your customer base. Doing so allows you to better cater to their needs. You should ensure each customer feels heard and appreciated by listening to their thoughts, whether via online reviews or in-person communication.

Try to market yourself and take risks with your strengths. You will not become a better restaurant owner if you take a back seat to your business development.

Also, ensure you stay focused and passionate. Try to affirm your abilities to boost your motivation and confidence. Ensure you remind yourself of your goals, too. 

How To Improve Culinary Skills in The Workplace

The strategy for improving your culinary skills in the workplace is essentially the same as listed above. You need to stay focused and organized at work if you wish to succeed and reach your potential. This involves committing to planning ahead, using schedules as well as to-do lists, and more.

In addition, you should try to be more open-minded. Hear what your customers say about your food and design. Do not let your ego get in the way of making improvements in your strengths.

Also, consider asking employees for feedback, too. They can help you understand how well you perform as a leader and what you need to work on.

How To Highlight Culinary Skills In a Resume or a Job Interview

Writing a resume can be tough, and job interviews are often extremely stressful. However, if you are confident in your skills and know how to present them accurately, your stress could be managed more effectively.

Many individuals make the mistake of thinking that just listing your culinary strengths is enough to convince a potential employer you have them.

However, this is not the case. You must demonstrate that you truly have these abilities for an interviewer to believe you. After all, nearly anyone can claim they have these skills, but only some can prove they do.

A great way to do this is by listing and describing your strengths within your prior work descriptions. For example, you could highlight how with your leadership skills, your last team grew from serving 20 tables a night to 35.

Or, you could show a manager that 30% more visitors came to your restaurant after you added a creative dish and marketed it. Be specific when you can, both during an interview and on your resume (but especially in the former).

Related: 36 Chef Interview Questions and Sample Answers

Culinary Skills FAQ

What Are the 12 Skills of Cooking?

To be an amazing chef, you must acquire quite a few skills. Some believe there are about 12 key skills that every chef must have to succeed in cooking.

These abilities are making broths, properly making al-denote pasta, creating delicious sauces, mastering your breakfast development, knowledge about cocktail flavors, cooking efficiency, making dressings by hand, prepping food in advance, roasting meat, roasting vegetables, proper knife skills, and food safety knowledge.

Most of these skills are hard skills, which are easier to acquire and more technical. However, soft skills should not be ignored either, as they play a crucial role in your long-term success, customer relationship building, and fulfillment.

What Are the 5 Skills Taught in Culinary School?

Culinary school students learn an immense amount of skills during their time as junior chefs. In general, though, there are five key skills taught during this period you should be aware of. One of the first skills you learn in culinary school is food preparation and organization.

It is often called ‘mise en place’ or everything in the right place in French, and it boosts efficiency while saving you time. Culinary school students also learn how to plan out their days to avoid making food at the last minute.

Next, they learn how to work with meats and make delicious sauces. Finally, students get a chance to perfect their knife skills as they advance through culinary school.

What Are Culinary Soft Skills?

Culinary skills are the abilities that allow chefs, waiters/waitresses, and other food service personnel to perform their jobs more effectively while also enjoying it more.

Soft skills, in particular, refer to the personality characteristics that allow someone to succeed in this industry and enjoy their work more (there are also technical or hard skills included within the category of culinary abilities).

Some of the most important culinary soft skills include organization, leadership, creativity, problem-solving, adaptability, communication, discipline, motivation, commitment, and passion.

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