Nowadays, when one hears the words “top chef”, perhaps the TV fan will think of the award-winning reality competition that originated in the United States that pitted over a dozen contestants in a battle of culinary supremacy. The winner after besting all the others over several weeks gains the title together with an impressive array of cash and other prizes.
By all means and definitions, the winners of this unique and engaging show can be considered top chefs especially since the series of challenges showcase the contestants’ abilities to create a range of dishes using their signature style amidst a variety of pressuring situations. These include handing exotic ingredients that contestants are unfamiliar with; group challenges that test their teamwork and leadership qualities; cooking for specific audiences like small children, firemen, the military and vegans; actually setting up a mock up restaurant; and many more.
In the non-televised world however, real life situations are faced by restaurants and its chefs in which the ones that rise above truly reign supreme.
Talented chefs can only get so much from their culinary education and training but years and years of experience and experimentation, willingness to learn and innovate separate the best among the rest. To be successful is not only about food preparation but also about running a successful business. This includes managing a team; procuring ingredients at their best quality and price; continuing to offer new concepts, products and services; and of course making a profit.
The rewards of perseverance can sometimes be reaped after decades of hard work, the cumulative effect of a series of small achievements that grow more frequent through the years–being featured in positive reviews; offered to judge cooking contests; or to write articles or host a TV show. With the rise of social networking and the internet, a chef’s achievements can be broadcast via bloggers and websites and before one knows it, droves of customers are lining up outside a restaurant.
Gradual attainment of success is appreciated than a quick “flash in the pan” which could be shallow and not sustaining. There have been all too many who got so excited with the positive feedback of one restaurant that they immediately branch out or franchise without carefully considering its many implications and requirements. As a result, these do not last and end up closing shop. A trademark of a top chef is one that carefully plans before picking up a knife or frying pan.