Being a chef does not only require wearing the chef’s hat, but many other hats as well throughout the day. You’ll be surprised to learn that a chef's day is more than just cooking as the Food Network may have you believe.
First things first, when a chef starts the day he or she must take inventory of the food and beverages. Based on the current menu he must make arrangements to gather ingredients to match forecasted number of guests for the evening. Produce is often delivered in the morning, and the chef makes sure that all of the fruits and vegetables are fresh. Fish and meats are selected and must meet exacting standards. Once selected, the kitchen is ready to move into prep.
This is when the rest of the kitchen arrives. The staff gets together to work on dishes that take longer to cook as well as breaking down vegetables to prepare the mise en place. This allows the team to quickly move through the meal service when the guests arrive. The chef is usually the manager of all employees who work in the kitchen, so it is his responsibility to keep operations running smoothly.
Typically, lunch will start between the times of 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. As guests arrive it’s the executive chef’s job to stand near the pass through window to make sure each dish is prepared and plated properly. If the chef happens to be the owner of the restaurant, then he or she take also interacts with the guests to be sure that all food meets their expectations.
When the rush of lunch hour calms, the chef prepares for other tasks of the day. This includes administrative duties, but first the chef gives direction to the kitchen staff for cleaning after lunch and preparing for dinner. Administrative duties also include addressing staffing issues and needs, ordering items for inventory, menu planning, analyzing food cost percentages and attending business meetings.
Before serving dinner, the chef has a quick meeting with the line cooks and sous chefs go over evening specials and cover counts. Sometimes, the chef will even have a second meeting with the house staff to make sure that everyone knows the correct information about specials.
As evening dinner starts, the chef stands near the pass through window to double check each dish. The chef also pulls double duty if an employee on the line can’t make the shift. This involves cooking the meal and double checking it. As dinner service slows down, the head chef alerts the sous chef of closing duties. A typical day of a chef can end aroundmidnight.
Many chefs who have been in the business for a long time thrive off of the intensity of working in a restaurant. Aspiring chefs who are passionate about cooking will likely feel a large sense of satisfaction and will thrive off of the environment as well.