Translated to English as Feats of Skill, it is the ability, ingenuity, and ease of master cooks in the culinary field. With hard work and love, techniques are perfected with correct knowledge being obtained. One must have discipline to first learn the basic proper techniques for the actions performed in a kitchen and when combined with love of work, dedication to “growing”, and the outmost desire for satisfying those one cooks for, then she or he is now on a path of conquering tours de main and stretching well beyond anything less then a master at all tasks of the kitchen.
It is easy to exclaim a definition of perfection but what truly does it take to become a master in the culinary field? I have obtained much knowledge by speaking with many Master Cooks and Chefs and what they feel are the most important aspects of the culinary field and how one must go about being on the path of tours de main.
Chef Jacques Pepin said that when professionals work with ease and rapidity, their performance relies heavily on long years of practice and discipline. To talk of the “tricks,” as they are often referred to by people amazed at the dexterity of a master Chef, is delusive and pejorative to the exports. There are no tricks, only tours de main, that can be acquired with prolonged effort.
While speaking with the Cooks and Chefs who I have had the pleasure of meeting throughout my career, it has been overwhelmingly and continuously stated that it takes certain traits, practices, and goals to excel in the culinary field. All of which that I have spoken with; as I am sure that all other professional culinarians would agree, that enjoyment of the job is the most important factor. It is only with love of the food and the desire to satisfy the customers that one can excel and rise high in this field. Enjoyment of the job is what wakes one up before the sun rises, it is the making of in each dish one creates, it is what drives the desire to obtain more knowledge; enabling one to create more challenging, creative, and inspiring dishes. Although it is love that stands apart from other aspects as the most important factor, love would not be enough without dedication, focus, and determination. A young cook needs these traits to place down the base and foundation of their entire career, once a strong foundation has been achieved it is these traits that will carry, push, and protect the culinarian. It is what will make them stand out, as they are the ones who are early to work, late to leave, always reading and searching for sources of knowledge, always coming to work eager to learn new and perform what had been learned.
A cook with love and focus will not only be inspiring to themselves but also to those she or he cooks for, and also the world; as they will look at this chef for new, adventurous ways of preparing and eating foods. Yet, it always will return to the foundation and the understanding of the basic fundamental principles that must be had before the love, determination, and drive can be put to use.
While speaking with Chef Instructor Mathew Fuss he stressed the importance of staying humble throughout one’s career. While you might be the best person in a kitchen, win competitions, and excel in all tasks it will all not matter in the long run if you are not able to stay humble, modest, and be of integrity.
Chef Fuss became an instructor to in return become a better cook and chef. He believes that you can learn much more from teaching a young culinarian the basic foundations of culinary arts and helping to fix and work out any mistakes they should make then from simply working in restaurants, on the line, performing the same skills as each day before.
The young culinarian is comparable to a sponge as they have the ability and desire to learn new wisdoms of cooking. This gives chef instructors an arena to insure proper techniques are learned, mistakes are corrected properly, and strong foundations are formed. Chef Fuss suggests that for a young culinarian to achieve greatness later in their career that they must now practice cooking, try out new ideas, work on techniques and methods used, and they must always be repeating what they know, over and over again until repetition is obtained.
Chef Fuss stated the importance of not doing something for its popularity but because of it working. When you seek out knowledge from books and all other sources it is of vital importance that you test these new ideas. You need to test them, see how you can change them to meet your own needs and capabilities, never taking another’s word, but finding things out for yourself is how you master cooking.
Another key point made from Chef Fuss is the importance of networking and establishing friendships with your fellow cooks. These are the people who are the future leaders of this industry and the more contacts you have, the more resources, connections, and outlooks you will have. This will only make you a better cook and chef as when you combine this with your hard work and search of knowledge then your resources will work for you, support you along your career, and be sources of dependability that can always be counted on in times of need.
Chef Fuss finished in saying that it is just as important to know what you are not strong in, what techniques are new that you are not proficient in, and what terminology you have not yet defined. Knowing these things, and trying to obtain this knowledge will greatly benefit your career, having this mindset will insure that you will always become better, stronger, and more knowledgeable of all aspects of this career.
Chef Fuss is working on finishing his bachelors and plans on obtaining his masters. He strongly believes something that all young culinarians should adhere to. Money is this field must come in seconded of what is of greatest importance. Finding your days to be interesting and enjoyable are of the most importance. Focusing on interest of this industry can insure a profitable career filled with excitement, knowledge, and great times. Focusing on money however will get in the way of tour de main being obtained; it can halt progress, decrease ingenuity, creativity, and inspiration to yourself and others.
For many of those who are in the culinary field the foundations that we stand upon today were formed long before our first knife was held, with it starting in our childhood from many various sources. For me influences came firstly from my family, my grandfather was a chef and taught me exactly what that means. I hung out in the kitchen with family members as I learned to ice a cake, make chicken stock, clean shrimp, time to lean time to clean, and much more. I watched PBS for all of their culinary shows and one day Julia Child taught me how to create an omelet; I have never forgotten. My family, television, and the cookbooks I read were my foundation, these are the things that remain still and are seen in each dish I create, each step I take, and each mess I clean.
While Speaking with Chef John Olsen I learned of his beginning in the culinary field and his own unique foundation. It is luckily so that Chef Olsen had wonderful parents who wouldn't allow their son to be put in danger on the streets of
Chef Olsen feels his driving factors have been his clear love of all things this industry offers, his patience, strong work ethic, immense dedication, complete compassion, common sense having foresight, devotion to broadening his horizons, and forever willingness to obtain new knowledge.
Chef Olsen began his teaching career when a friend went into maternity leave at
It is the simple basics that are of most important and the understanding of fundamentals, mise en place skills, a certain discipline to put these understandings to use, and organization to follow through with all tasks attempted. This is what Chef Olsen knows to be of most importance and this is what comes across to those he teaches.
From speaking with these professionals of the culinary industry, I have not only walked away with a vast amount of knowledge but also a stronger determination, devotion, and understanding to my goal of becoming a chef and the conquering of tours de main. I am wholeheartedly thankful for the extraordinary Instructors in which AIPH has to offer, for they are insuring a new generation of young culinarians will have a vast knowledge that will be used each day of their career, the understanding of the importance of sexy, seductive, satisfying, and an unquestionable devotion with unmistakable traits that of a chef. "I pledge my professional knowledge and skill to the advancement of our profession and to pass it on to those who are to follow. I shall foster a spirit of courteous consideration and fraternal cooperation within our profession. I shall place honor and the standing of our profession before personal advancement. I shall not use unfair means to effect my professional advancement or to injure the chances of another colleague to secure and hold employment. I shall be fair, courteous and considerate in my dealings with fellow colleagues. I shall conduct any necessary comment on, or criticism of, the work of a fellow colleague with careful regard of the good name and dignity of the culinary profession, and will scrupulously refrain from criticism to gain personal advantage. I shall never expect anyone to subject themselves to risks which I would not be willing to assume myself. I shall help to protect all members against one another from within our profession. I shall be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own. I shall be too big for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear and too happy to permit pressure of business to hurt anyone, within or without the profession."
This is the Culinarian Code and as I have devoted my life to obtaining the knowledge and skills to being of tours de main so have I devoted my life to being of such stature to live up to this code of conduct for the professionals within my field.