Life in The Kitchen: The Ten Unexpected Life Lessons Culinary Arts Will Teach You
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Life in The Kitchen: The Ten Unexpected Life Lessons Culinary Arts Will Teach You

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Today, the world of culinary arts has taken the world by storm.


With YouTube predominantly filled with cooking shows and celebrity chefs all over the world showcasing their talent, people are given that comforting feeling that indeed, they can cook--if they just bothered to learn. In this regard, culinary arts schools all over the world have been enjoying a surge in enrollment. People from all walks of life have suddenly decided to indulge their long burgeoning dream of becoming a professional cook. However, when one thinks of what a chef aspirant would learn in a culinary school, we often tend to think of lessons that are limited only to food handling, preparation and cooking. But, while there is a myriad of cooking disciplines and lessons to be learned in a culinary arts school, the education is not limited to solely culinary lessons valuable only in the kitchen and in the preparation of food. One of the best things about enrolling in a culinary arts school is the fact that not only will you graduate with an expertise in cooking, but you will develop wisdom for everyday situations as well. In fact, one might go as far as to say that while a good culinary school often teaches the precepts of cooking, it can be quite edifying about lessons in life as well.

Most of these life lessons can be applied in the kitchen, but there are some of them that are relevant in everyday situations outside of the scullery room as well. These lessons, while important in making you a better professional, are also useful in turning you into a better person overall. So, if you have been scouring for information about the top culinary arts school in Manila and have been thinking of enrolling yourself, here are some of the life lessons you can expect to learn while there:


1.) Respect EVERY co-worker

Individuals who do not work in a kitchen are often under the impression that there is a certain operating hierarchy at play. However, while the head chef is typically the center of command in the kitchen, everyone should be treated like a chef--regardless of their position. One important thing you should know about working in kitchens (and attending culinary school for that matter) is that the dishwasher can leverage your success. Being a dishwasher is a thankless but enduring job. With that said, you should treat every coworker like they are your superior. Regardless of rank, you should never overlook the people underneath you. While this is a valuable lesson in the kitchen, it is also an excellent principle to apply anywhere else. Treat your colleagues equally--show the same respect to the janitor as you would to the CEO.


2.) Time management is pivotal

Culinary school teaches you that there is always something productive to do--even if you think you have free time. In fact, there is a saying in culinary school that goes: "If you have time to lean, you have got the time to clean." Your teachers set up your classes like a real job. In this regard, you need to be organized enough to ensure that you accomplish everything on time. With that said, you learn how to map out your days and think about what takes the longest to do. An example would be if a braise takes a couple of hours to complete, then this should be the first thing to knock out of your list before proceeding to other tasks.


3.) Prep lists are important

When you get into culinary school, one of the things you will quickly learn is just how important it is to write a daily prep list to map out your classes. A prep list essentially contains all of the things you need to do and accomplish. In this way, you can organize your thoughts and the list serves to propel you seamlessly from task to task. Regardless of your cooking expertise or your level of skill, keeping a prep list is paramount. It is one of the things that help you keep things together when the kitchen gets overwhelmingly busy.


4.) Patience is a virtue (that not everyone has)

You might have heard of the saying that "a watched pot never boils" and while that may not be true, a lot can be learned from it. When you cook, patience is a virtue you will have to learn and relearn. Much like baking cookies, things take time and if you keep on checking on your cookies, they would take longer to burn. Things that take time need to be accorded that time. However, this does not mean you can just stand idly by while waiting for them to finish. Use your free time to do a lot of tasks that require to be done so that you can be productive.


5.) Not everyone is nice to you (and you cannot expect them to)

It is quite common and expected for you to commit a mistake in culinary school. If you have made a mistake, you made it. That is that. Time wasted and wasted product. Typically, you are allowed a free do-over only once which means that the most you can commit a mistake is once. If it happens more than once, a chef might say things to you that are difficult to hear. However, bear in mind that no chef has to be nice to you. In the same vein, no boss has to be nice to you. Chalk it up to experience and develop a tougher skin. Instead of letting it weigh you down, allow it to propel you further by doing better. At times, criticism is important in correcting errors and driving an employee to do better. Do not take it to heart or you will end up disappointed. Remember, it is all part of the industry.



6.) Mise en place

"Mise en place" is a French term for "putting in place" your ingredients and equipment before you begin in order to perform tasks more efficiently and quickly. To some individuals, having your things in place or not might not matter but once you turn it into a habit, you will discover that it can be incredibly helpful. In this regard, you will be more organized, professional and sanitary and this is something you will carry throughout your future culinary endeavors.


7.) You do not always get to choose who you work with

Regardless of what industry you may be in, this will always ring true and this will follow you for the rest of your life. There are times wherein you cannot stand the people you are working with while there are also moments wherein you can actually befriend your colleagues. However, bear in mind that at the end of the day, it is ALWAYS about getting the job done, no matter how irritated and frustrated you might be. Accept the fact that there are always individuals who do not share the same work ethic as you do and at times, they will make your job significantly more difficult but that does not mean that you should give up. You do not know who your co-workers will be and you do not know who your boss will be as well. But at the end of the day, a job needs to be done and it is up to you to do it or not.


8.) Do not be afraid to knock on doors

If there is a particular person you look up to, never hesitate in reaching out. However, be respectful about it. In culinary arts school, you are taught to knock on the back door of kitchens and ask to speak with the chef. While it may seem intrusive, this kind of personal contact can be the difference between having your emailed application overlooked, and accepted for the job. While this technique may not always work every time (and may probably not be the best in every situation), it does get your point across and it helps you get to places as well.


9.) Never show up to work with a stained uniform

A clean and pristine uniform is a sign of professionalism. In culinary arts school, if your whites were stained, you will be sent home for the day--no questions asked. In this regard, always show up in clean uniform--even if it means having to soak your whites in a mixture of hot water and Borax. Having a clean uniform teaches you not only to be sanitary, but put-together and presentable at all times as well.


10.) Love what you do

The reality is you will have good days and you will have bad days---no matter how much you love your job. However, you should never let the bad days affect the good days. Instead, let the good days make up for your bad days but you need to get through all of them. Keep your goals in mind and inspire yourself daily so that you can accomplish them. Similarly, surround yourself in positive energy to keep you going. As the saying goes, if you love what you do, work will never feel like work at all.