Updated: Oct 30, 2019
Welcome to the sixth installment where every Wednesday I explain everything that it takes to be a Chef in my eyes. This series will by no means be exhaustive, but I will certainly do my best. If you're a Chef and want to share your opinion I'd love to hear what you have to say. Aspiring Chefs: if you have questions feel free to reach out. I'm always looking for an excuse to talk about Chef Life.
First: I'm going to ask a favor; When you're done reading this make sure to comment at the bottom. If you think I don't know what I'm talking about say so, heck share it with your friends and say "look at this guy calling himself a Chef, he has no idea what he's talking about." If you agree let me know, share it with your friends, you know how we like to see that other Chefs see the world similar to ourselves, get a good laugh out of it.
Ok so far in this series we have covered the importance of Passion as well as a commitment to quality in regards to your effort, a commitment to food quality, Menu planning and Temperature control. Today I will be talking about what I feel is often the most construed aspect of being a Chef; The Ability to Pass on Knowledge.
Every possesses some rudimentary ability to pass on our knowledge; whether we pass on how counting works, how to spell or what have you we all have that ability to some degree. That's not what makes a Chef. What does it is HOW and WHEN you do it. This is really about leadership. Knowing when and how to convey information to someone, what level are you passing on, your motives to pass it on are all things that in my eyes need to be taken into consideration when you consider what it means to call a person a Chef.
At some point anyone with some degree of confidence and self-perceived expertise in any activity has tried to pass on what they know. Problem oftentimes is they don't know how to do it. Many people resort to doing rather than showing. To me that's the lowest level possible and at times is required but should always be avoided and used only as a last resort which may come sooner based on the complexity of the information you plan to share. However another point you must keep in mind is WHEN. Keep in mind you are a team and the team functions best when everyone is using each other to grow from. This means sometimes when someone is struggling you have to let them. Trick is knowing when it's time to step in. Sometimes people get worried because of the product the person I ruining and step in to try to save the product. There are many factors to point towards whether or not that's a good idea, but by and large I believe that's a mistake. The knowledge they may learn by ruining it should lead them to learning more techniques in the future helping the whole team advance. However, if it's clear they are simply acting out of frustration and not learning anything that is the time for the most knowledgeable person available to step-in and guide.
An important aspect of passing knowledge is your motive behind it. Your motive MUST BE to help them advance, period. Any other reason and you risk losing valuable learning opportunities either by hurting their ego, belittling them or otherwise making them feel mismanaged. In my experience the best way I have come to find to teach is to tell them exactly my motives which always comes down to 3 things: 1) we are a team and my job gets easier the better you can do yours; 2) I want to teach you to be better than me one day; 3) One day I won't be around and when that day comes I want to know you'll be ready. Depending on where your level of leadership is by this point will change how its received.
While talking about transferring knowledge I feel it's only right to mention: it's also imperative to be open to receiving guidance. Even as the senior most individual in any organization I guarantee someone below you knows better than you at some aspect of your job. If that person steps up to give you a hand the absolute worst thing you can do is write-them-off over it. Everyone has someone to teach everyone, don't miss your chance to learn.
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