No professional chef will feel satisfied with a set of cheap, blunt knives or low-quality pans. If you’re serious about becoming a respected chef, you must ensure your kitchen is stocked with quality equipment that can help you create Michelin-star-worthy dishes.
If you want to take your culinary skills to the next level, check out the six tools every professional chef has in their kitchen.
1. A Set of High-Quality Knives
Every pro chef owns a set of high-quality knives. If you don’t have the money to spare for a full set, you must at least invest in:
The above three knives can help budding and pro chefs cut every item they need to create delicious dishes. Also, you must buy a reliable knife sharpener to care for your knives throughout the years. Check-out some of our knife reviews!
2. A Wooden Cutting Board
Stone or glass cutting boards might complement your kitchen, but they will dull your knives. Instead, buy a heavy-duty wooden cutting board. It can prevent your knives from becoming blunt, it will withstand wear and tear, and it has antimicrobial properties. However, you must replace them every few years to prevent a build-up of bacteria.
3. An Instant-Read Thermometer
Every chef will want to serve perfectly cooked food each and every time. It doesn’t matter if you are a pro chef or a home cook; you should add an instant-read thermometer into your kitchen. It will allow you to measure your food’s temperature, which can appear on a digital display. So, you will know when salmon is fully cooked or when a steak is ready to be removed from the pan.
4. A Cast-Iron Pan
If you want to sear your chicken breast or steak like a pro, you must use a cast-iron pan. It will provide a flawless sear every time, as it will conduct heat well. It is an ideal pan to use when trying to caramelize the surface of red meat or poultry. Plus, with a little care and attention (known as seasoning), a cast-iron pan could last a lifetime, and it will get better with age.
Alternately, a quality stainless steel pan with a thick bottom also provides a nice sear. Some of the more high-end brands have copper center cores surrounded by stainless steel.
5. A Blender
It doesn’t matter if you specialize in French cuisine, Cajun food, or Indian cuisine; you must buy a blender. The handy tool can help you create delicious purees, sauces, and soups in an instant. However, you will get what you pay for, so don’t be afraid to splash out a little extra for the gadget to ensure it never lets you down in the kitchen.
6. A Microplane
If you haven’t already done so, invest in a microplane. It is a must-use tool when you want to finely grate food, such as parmesan cheese, lime, or chocolate. It could help you provide the perfect finishing touch to any starter, main, or dessert.
So, if you want to serve great-tasting dishes time after time, add the above items to your kitchen.
The 5 Best Japanese Knives To Add To Your Arsenal
Any experienced chef understands the importance of a good kitchen knife. They’ll have their favorite knife – their bread and butter that they automatically reach for.
Experimentation, however, is useful beyond just improving your favorite dish. And in recent years, more and more chefs have begun to experiment with different Japanese knife types. Unlike their Western cousins, Japanese knives are a lot more specialized. From the rectangular Usuba or the triangular Honesuki, these Eastern knives have a lot of variety to them.
The 5 following Japanese knife types, however, are ones that every chef should consider adding to their arsenal.
The 5 Best Japanese Knives To Add To Your Arsenal
The Gyutou is very similar in appearance to your typical Western chef knife. It’s even capable of performing many of the same tasks that its Western counterpart can perform, including cutting meat, fish and vegetables. The Gyutou, however, is much better at rocking motions. This also means that the Gyutou is a very versatile knife.
Unlike most other traditional Japanese knives, the Gyutou can easily substitute for a Chef’s Knife. Material-wise, the Gyutou is usually very similar to the knives we are familiar with. You can expect steel that is extremely tough with a hint of softness. Due to these similarities, the Gyutou is commonly referred to as a Japanese Chef’s Knife.
Like the Gyutou, the Santoku is also a very versatile knife. It combines many of the aspects of knives from both the West and the East. As a hybrid knife, this means the Santoku is also a great choice as a general all-purpose knife. However, a Santoku knife has a block-like tip similar to a Nakiri and a thinner profile with a curved cutting edge. The result? A knife that excels at slicing, chopping, and mincing.
Thanks to the shape, the Santoku also ends up being much more precise than the Gyutou. Unlike Western knives, however, the Santoku is ground at a shallower angle creating a knife with a delicate edge that is harder to sharpen.
Like the Chef’s Knife, the paring knife also has its Japanese equivalent. In this case, that would be the Petty knife. Named after the French word “petite”, the Petty knife is as small as you would expect. These knives also come in different sizes so you have a fair share of options no matter your hand size.
As you would expect from a paring knife, the Petty is perfect when it comes to peeling fruit or vegetables. Likewise when it comes to intricate work on the cutting board. All in all, the Petty makes for the perfect choice for any chef’s arsenal.
It’s easy to mistake a Sujihiki for a Chef’s Knife. That would be a mistake as, despite the similar looks, these two couldn’t be further apart. The Sujihiki is any chef’s first choice when it comes to trimming away fat from meat.
Due to the long blade and acute edge angle, the Sujihiki can easily cut through ingredients. This makes it great when it comes to slicing or filleting delicate fish. Sushi, for example, is much easier to cut with a Sujihiki than any other knife. If you’re a chef with a passion for fish, the Sujihiki is a knife you don’t want to ignore.
The Pankiri is a favorite among many chefs. Of course, that has more to do with the fact that it’s the only serrated widely used knife in Japan. As you would expect, this means that Pankiri is the perfect choice when it comes to cutting bread.
Unlike Western bread knives, however, the Pankiri has a long and lightweight blade that is perfect for cutting through a hard crust without crushing the soft insides. For any chef getting into Japanese kitchen knives, the Pankiri is the perfect entry point. This is especially true if you have a passion for bread.
image source wafuu-honpo.com
Are Japanese Knives Better Than Western Knives?
When it comes to knives, the Western style knife is the most popular. Most cooks not raised in Japan will be well accustomed to your typical Western kitchen knife. Many chefs today, however, are starting to discover just how wonderful a Japanese knife is. In fact, Japanese kitchen knives have started to become quite popular among a lot of forward-thinking chefs.
This rising popularity can actually raise the question of which is better. The answer, however, isn’t quite so simple. Although Japanese knives have quite a few positives to them, they also come with their fair share of negatives.
The price of a Japanese style knife, for instance, can be quite high compared to your typical German knife. Likewise, it can also be quite difficult to even get a hold of a Japanese knife. Thankfully both of these problems are starting to lessen as the popularity of Japanese knives continues to grow.
Many online retailers, for example, are starting to sell these knives at affordable prices. Pretty soon, the decision on which style of knife to use will come down to personal preference. Many Japanese knives, for example, are highly suited to cutting vegetables or delicate meats like fish.
How To Choose The Right Japanese Knife
So you have decided that a Japanese knife is right for you. Now what? How should you go about deciding on which of the many Japanese knife types is right for you?
The first step, of course, is figuring out just what exactly you need in the first place. A Pankiri or Santoku are both wonderful knives, but they are pretty pointless if you already have a favorite Chef’s knife or serrated bread knife.
If you’re looking for a change or a replacement knife, however, they can easily fit the bill. But once you know what style of knife you want, there are still a few things you should take note of.
Knife quality can vary quite widely among different knife brands. Sure, your favorite knife maker may be great at making German knives, but what about Japanese ones? It’s a good idea to check out a wide variety of brands before you make a choice.
Likewise, be sure to try out a variety of different styles of knives. Although you may only be looking for a specific style, Japanese knives have a tendency of making you second guess yourself. Before you know it, you may end up an aficionado for Japanese style knives.
The Right Knife Makes All The Difference
Cooking is fun and a good knife can go a long way in making it even more enjoyable. No matter what level of experience you have, you can never go wrong when it comes to shopping for new kitchen knives. And with the increasing popularity of Japanese knives, the amount of options you now have is greater than ever. Like their Western counterparts, these types of knives come with their own intricacies that can be a joy to explore.
No matter what type of chef you are, there’s little excuse for you not to have a Japanese style knife in your arsenal of cooking tools.
Redfin’s latest article featured us:
15 Features Food Experts Say to Look for in a Kitchen
Your kitchen is one of the most important and most used areas of your home, and for anyone who loves to cook, having a functional workspace makes all the difference. A kitchen should not only be large enough to work in but should have all the most necessary features to allow you to cook with ease, whether you live in a condo or in a house. Take a look at what some experts had to say about important features to have in a kitchen if you love to cook.
15 Features Food Experts Say to Look for in a Kitchen
July 15, 2020
Budget-Friendly Restaurant Remodeling Projects to Increase Safety Standards
Business owners are itching to reopen their establishments just as much as customers are itching to visit their favorite businesses and get back to some semblance of a normal life. However, reopening must be done properly to ensure the health and safety of both customers and employees. Fortunately, there are several budget-friendly remodeling projects business owners can complete to increase their establishment’s safety standards. Read below to learn more!
Partitions and Safety Dividers
Installing partitions and safety dividers in your establishment is an effective way to increase safety. Many establishments are already requiring customers and employees to wear face coverings upon entry to help prevent the spread of airborne bacteria, germs, and viruses. These physical barriers can help further keep employees and customers safe by limiting airborne spread even more.
These glass or plexiglass partitions allow customers and employees to see and hear each other during their transactions. They are fairly easy to assemble and can be installed in many places, commonly at cash registers and anywhere else where transactions occur. You could also put your retail products behind glass dividers.
E&E Exhibit Solutions, a trade show, and event company, has been providing retailers, businesses, and healthcare providers with partitions in the Tempe, AZ area. This practice should become more widespread to protect employees and customers worldwide as they resume frequenting businesses.
Portable Hand Washing Stations
Handwashing and sanitizing are important ways to maintain good health and must be diligently maintained throughout the reopening of restaurant and retail establishments. Many have already provided customers and employees with hand sanitizer and plastic gloves upon entry, but portable hand washing stations provide more thorough levels of cleanliness.
They are especially beneficial in retail and restaurant locations because people are frequently touching items such as menus, credit card kiosks, and items on shelves. With a high number of customers frequently touching the same items, there is a heightened risk of exposure to bacteria and diseases. Fortunately, portable handwashing stations can help curb the spread of infectious diseases. Portable handwashing stations can be purchased from many different retailers and are fairly simple to install and assemble.
Install a Ductless Mini Split
Air quality and ventilation are two important factors of a healthy indoor environment. Indoor air pollution can contribute to the spread of infectious diseases, and the concentration of some pollutants or bacteria is even higher indoors than out. One way to improve ventilation and indoor air quality in your establishment is by upgrading your HVAC system and installing a ductless mini-split system.
Over time, harmful materials can build up in the ducts of central HVAC systems. These can be spread throughout the building during operation, which can directly decrease air quality. Fortunately, this concern is eliminated with a ductless mini-split in your business.
Ductless mini-splits are highly efficient HVAC systems that can create the perfect indoor climate while improving air quality in your establishment. They consist of one outdoor compressor connected to one or more indoor air conditioners by a series of copper wires and pipes.
Ductless mini-splits are available in single and multi-zone systems, meaning they can adequately heat and cool a business with multiple rooms, floors, or levels. They offer many benefits for business owners.
For example, they are highly efficient, which leads to lower energy costs and a reduced environmental impact for your business. They are also available in many different styles to meet the aesthetic and space needs of your business.
Inside of each air conditioner, there is a filter that removes harmful airborne contaminants such as dust, dirt, debris, and other bacteria. It can also eliminate moisture from the air to prevent mold and mildew growth. Removing harmful airborne contaminants will improve your building’s indoor air quality and create a safer environment for both employees and customers.
Enhance Your Outdoor Area
Experts agree that outdoor areas are safer than indoor areas, especially in the early phases of reopening. Businesses can make simple changes to their outdoor areas to create a safer environment for employees and customers.
Whether they are socializing or waiting to enter the indoor area, ensure that customers have adequate space outside. Paint circles or use other clear markings to show where people should stand or wait outside. Restaurant owners could purchase outdoor tables, chairs, or barstools and space them out properly to provide customers with enough distance between those around them.
There could also be partitions put up between tables, as this would also provide a heightened sense of comfort for patrons as they assimilate back into society. You could also purchase shelves or display racks for outside of your store if your retail establishment has adequate space outdoors to do so.
Door knobs and handles are touched by virtually all patrons upon entering and exiting the premises, which means they can harbor various types of bacteria and germs that can spread rapidly. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this type of spread.
Installing automatic doors can allow customers to freely enter and exit the premises without ever touching a potentially contaminated doorknob or handle. These doors use sensors to detect approaching people and will remain open for long enough for them, or other nearby patrons, to pass through.
Hands-free door openers have also been designed and produced using 3D printers that allow customers to open and close a door without touching the doorknob or handle. These could be provided to customers, but they must be properly sanitized and cleaned to eliminate any bacteria.
These simple steps can help increase safety standards in your restaurant or retail establishment that will pay off in both the short- and long-term future. Business owners must remain diligent throughout the reopening process, as providing a safe atmosphere for employees and patrons will not only increase health but comfort levels as well.
April 4, 2020
Top Culinary Schools in the World
The top culinary schools have a lot of clout in the food world and can open many doors. Getting a formal training provides you with the technical tools and mental discipline needed to perform at your best in this competitive and, at times, brutal industry.
But these schools can also be very expensive and pay in the first few years after graduation is generally poor. So before you commit yourself to a career in the restaurant industry, be sure it is something you really want.
Chef’s Pencil has done the research on the best culinary schools from around the world to show you what is on offer. Here is a shortened version of their full article.
1. Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, USA
Named after the world-famous Auguste Escoffier, the school follows a farm-to-table philosophy that teaches students where food comes from and encourages them to respect local resources and sustainable practices.
Located in the US with campuses in Boulder, Colorado, and Austin, Texas, the accredited school specializes in culinary and pastry arts education offering diploma and degree programs. Students receive career services assistance while in school and after graduation.
2. Culinary Arts Academy, Switzerland
One of the most respected culinary institutions in the world, the Culinary Arts Academy prepares students for their future career, focusing on entrepreneurship as well as kitchen skills. With an approach to culinary traditions that reflects modern trends, trainees will become expert in international cuisine from traditional culinary basics to international fine-dining methods.
Located in Switzerland, this a highly selective school with just 300 students is based in two campuses, Lucerne and Le Bouveret.
Students will enjoy the unique internship opportunities available through industry juggernauts such as the Ritz Paris and Ritz Escoffier.
3. Culinary Institute of America, USA
The Culinary Institute of America spans coast to coast and even has an international campus in Singapore. All three of the US campuses offer associate degrees and a variety of other programs for food and wine enthusiasts. Only the institute’s main campus in New York offers a bachelor’s degree.
The Napa Valley, California Campus hosts a one-of-a-kind Food Business School teaching what’s needed to deal with the challenges of running a foodservice, while the Hudson Valley, New York campus operates four public restaurants specializing in Italian cuisine, French cuisine, American cuisine, and café foods where students get real life experience.
The institution has a long list of notable alumni, including the famous Anthony Bourdain, whom the Institute honored with a scholarship in his name.
4. Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, France
Le Cordon Bleu is one of the most illustrious institutions for culinary education, and considered the guardian of French techniques. The first woman in her class, Julia Child, graduated in 1949 and the school includes a popular demo on boeuf bourguignon in her honor.
With 40 campuses spread over five continents, Le Cordon Bleu is the largest culinary and hospitality school in the world.
Their one- to four-day courses and workshops are considered the passport to a world of career opportunities. Le Grand Diplôme® is an intensive and comprehensive program in classic French culinary techniques that combines Diplôme de Pâtisserie and Diplôme de Cuisine.
5. Institute of Culinary Education, New York, USA
The award winning Institute of Culinary Education located in Manhattan, New York offers several programs covering every interest and skill level, including recreational cooking and continuing educating courses.
The New York campus provides opportunities for advanced creativity in its bean-to-bar Chocolate Lab, an indoor hydroponic herb garden and vegetable farm, a Culinary Technology Lab fitted with a tandoor oven, vertical rotisserie, and dedicated spaces for mixology and wine studies.
Notable alumni include Vivian Howard, Ed Behr, Rachel Yang, Marc Murphy, Mashama Bailey, Elisa Strauss, Zac Young, Denisse Oller, and many more.
6. Apicius, Italy
Founded in 1997, Apicius International School of Hospitality is now a thriving center of learning for cuisine, wine, and hospitality. Set in the beautiful city of Florence, the school provides lectures, workshops, and seminars across its three locations in the city.
It has state of the art facilities including three learning labs that link students with the local community for experience in hospitality, catering, and management, and its very own pastry shop, Fedora, that showcases student work.
Their Certificate Career Programs are unique for their combination of in-class learning and practice in the field.
7. Westminster Kingsway College, London, UK
Based in the heart of London, Westminster Kingsway College operates across four campuses and has an excellent reputation in Culinary Arts and Hospitality.
The programs are designed to fit those from the very young but passionate to adults taking a turn into a new career. The range of courses starts with the Young Chef Academy, going up to the Grand Escoffier Diploma, offering six kitchen-based modules
Notable alumni include Jamie Oliver, Ainsley Harriot, Kathy Burke, Michelle Collins.
8. Kendall College, School of Culinary Arts, IL, USA
The Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in the heart of Chicago develops not only culinary skills but solid business management and communication abilities.
A wide range of courses are offered including Associate of Applied Science degree programs that provide aspiring chefs and bakers with all the knowledge they need to enter the food service industry.
In junior and senior years, students practice a range of world cuisines while gaining real-world experience through an internship at a restaurant in Chicago.
The Culinary Arts Certificate is for those who want to change career, start a small business, or advance their current knowledge with foundational professional cooking skills.
Notable alumni include Michael White, Mindy Segal, and José Garces.
9. BHMS, Lucerne, Switzerland
Business and Hotel Management School, one of the world’s leading hospitality schools offers programs for specializing in the culinary arts.
Students acquire all the fundamental skills needed to work in a real kitchen, from food preparation and presentation to kitchen management, all through hands-on training and classroom learning.
The BHMS offers a full range of qualifications over three years, each year building on their acquired skills, providing students with the specialized knowledge necessary to open their own culinary or catering business.
10. New England Culinary Institute, Montpelier, USA
Combining tradition with innovation, the New England Culinary Institute, located in the capital of Vermont, offers both degrees and certificates in culinary arts, hospitality and restaurant management.
To enhance their degree, students can choose a specialty such as sustainability, learning about sourcing local foods and being environmentally conscious, and wine and beverages. Culinary arts and baking options can also be combined or paired with management for a specific career focus.
Notable alumni include Alton Brown and Heather Terhune and the founders of Ben & Jerry. Chef David of Chefs-Resources also attended NECI.
11. Gastronomicom International Culinary Academy, France
Founded by Matine Lessault, this international culinary academy set in the charming town of Agde in the south of France enrolls students from all over the world.
Aimed at beginners and professionals, three basic courses in French cooking, pastry, and French language can be taken in a range of programs that involve hands-on classes and internships. There is also a Diploma in Gastronomic Cooking or Pastry
Both courses offer internships at luxury hotel-restaurants in France including room and board.
For lucky pastry students, Johanna Le Pape, 2014 world champion of sweet arts, provides a masterclass.
12. Culinary Institute of Barcelona, Spain
Here, in Barcelona, you will find cookery courses that nurture creativity and innovation. The school prides itself on its unique methodology, rejecting traditional teaching of following recipes, and instead focusing on product, technique and context. Their students become chefs able to innovate, to solve problems, and to adapt to whatever products in whichever circumstances.
Whether you want to become a chef, build on your experience, or want focus on management, the school has well-designed courses for all.
13. Hattori Nutrition College, Japan
One of the most renowned culinary schools in Asia, the Hattori Nutrition College was established in 1939 by the Iron Chef, Yukio Hattori. As well as culinary courses, the College provides dietary education based on “Shokuiku”, the Japanese term for “food education”.
The school president says it is “acquisition of knowledge about food and nutrition, and the ability to make appropriate decisions through practical experience with food, with the aim of developing life on a healthy diet.”
The school develops chefs able to bring joy to the table through focusing on technique, practical training, and a developed sense. The Nutrition Course teaches diet coordination for maintaining health.
February 24, 2020
The Pros and Cons of Being a Personal Chef
Not every culinary student out there dreams of becoming a prestigious executive chef in a world-famous restaurant. Many people go to culinary school with the sole purpose of becoming an independent personal chef. So, what is the personal chef job description?
Personal chefs are self-employed entrepreneurs who help people with planning and preparing meals; they also help prepare one-off menus, cook at parties and other special events, help to do grocery shopping, develop special meal plans based on specific dietary needs, and more. The job varies from client to client depending on their different needs and preferences.
Hiring a personal chef may have been considered a luxury in the past, but that’s certainly not the case now. In today’s busy world, it’s quite common for an individual or a family to hire a personal chef to come in once a week and prepare a week’s worth of meals.
As a personal chef, you have the freedom to choose your hours, clients, and salary. However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, either. Like with any other job, this profession also has its drawbacks.
Today, we’re going to take a look at the pros and cons of this exciting profession. By the end of this article, you should be able to decide whether or not being a personal chef is a good fit for you.
Personal Chef Job Description -vs- Private Chef
Before we dive any deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of being a personal chef, we have to address a widespread misconception: a personal chef is NOT the same as a private chef.
A private chef works as an employee with only one person or family as a full-time chef. It’s normal for a private chef to live in the same household as the people employing them. They usually prepare up to three meals per day, among other things.
On the other hand, personal chefs work with several clients as independent freelancers. This means that they’re in charge of marketing themselves, covering operational costs, sending out invoices, and all the other “fun stuff” that comes with running your own business. Not to mention, personal chefs rely entirely on themselves to build a steady income.
Most personal chefs work with one client per day. They often get hired to prepare and “flash freeze” a week’s worth of meals, but they may also be in charge of shopping for groceries, creating menus, as well as keeping their clients’ kitchens clean.
A personal chef could be contracted to cover a special event such as a party or a wedding, sometimes with short notice. People with special dietary needs may also hire a personal chef to create menus and prepare meal plans that either they, or other cooks, prepare. In short, a personal chef puts his or her professional expertise at the service of anyone who may be in need of it.
Personal and private chefs have very different roles. Being a personal chef can be an amazing gig, but it is not for everyone. Why is that, and what are the best and worst aspects of being a personal chef? Let’s dive into the pros and cons of being a personal chef! After all, that is what you came to find out, isn’t it?
Pros of Being a Personal Chef
You Get To Be Your Own Boss
Personal chefs may work with several clients to make their monthly income, and they’re usually in charge of marketing and business administration for themselves. They are entrepreneurs, with all the perks and drawbacks that involves.
Business owners get to decide who they work with, how much they’ll charge, the number of hours they’re willing to work each week, and their days off. At least in theory, because often small business owners spend much more time on their business than employees.
However, these are luxuries that are unavailable to the traditional executive chef. They are employees, with scheduling set by a boss and must be available during the hours required by their employment.
Like all freelancers, personal chefs control their potential income by setting their own rates, upsells, and offers. They can choose to do hourly work, or sell packages that bundle services for a lower rate but more consistent work, find retainer clients, or do any combination.
A well-established personal chef in the U.S. can easily charge anywhere between $30-$40 per hour. Of course, if you’re starting out, you’ll have to start with a lower rate to gain traction.
The amount of money you can earn as a personal chef depends on your experience, references, and how well you market your services. Other factors that play into what you can charge are your niche and the location you operate in.
Chefs who work at restaurants don’t usually get the chance to build meaningful relationships with the people who eat their food. On the contrary, a personal chef knows their clients. They must, to create fully customized menus based on their particular preferences and needs.
As a personal chef, you will likely get more reaction to your creations than a restaurant chef would. It’s not uncommon for individuals and families to show a lot of appreciation and love for the person in charge of preparing their daily meals. That’s a serious plus.
Yes, personal chefs need to adapt their cooking to their clients’ preferences and requirements, but this doesn’t mean they can’t be creative. A lot of people want your suggestions and expert advice. Some don’t, and those clients will be very regimented in what they want you to prepare.
If you’re the type of chef who likes to experiment and let their creativity and intuition run free, seek clients who are looking for that. Not only does this job allow you to create unique dishes and combinations (while using your clients’ well-equipped kitchens), but it also provides an excellent opportunity to increase your repertoire of recipes to a whole new level.
Autonomy and Variability
Does the idea of a busy kitchen with many chefs of varying hierarchies, kitchen staffers, and waiters annoy or bore you?
If working in an enclosed space with people running around all over the place and yelling out instructions for hours makes you twitch, you should probably consider becoming a personal chef.
A personal chef can enjoy the tranquility and quietude of a home kitchen, usually with little-to-no people around. You certainly don’t have anyone yelling out instructions at you, and you get to decide the processes and techniques to be used when preparing meals.
Travel & Exclusivity
It’s common for personal chefs who work with wealthy people to get invited to travel with them. A lot of celebrities and wealthy people hire personal chefs to cook for them all the time.
Personal chefs who work in high-end markets and who keep their clients happy are often presented with opportunities to work at exclusive events, travel to different parts of the world, and meet interesting and famous people.
All of this while doing something they love. More often than not, personal chefs get to work in dreamy kitchens. Sometimes, they even get to harvest high-quality ingredients and herbal teas or ingredients from their clients’ organic gardens.
Cons of Being a Personal Chef
You’ll Need Liability Insurance
There are a lot of things that can go wrong while you’re cooking and storing meals in someone else’s home or workplace. If you damage a house, someone’s equipment, or if your clients fall ill as a result of eating your food, you’ll be an easy target for lawsuits and claims against you.
If you don’t have public liability insurance to help you resolve such claims, your reputation, and future work opportunities will be at risk.
Public liability insurance is a crucial business expense that every professional personal chef should cover.
It’s Physically Demanding
A chef is a chef, and everyone knows that chefs have to be on their feet for long periods of time. It’s just one of those things that can’t be avoided.
The personal chef job description is, by no means, an exception to this rule. The physical activity that comes with the job can be just as intense as traditional restaurant kitchen work. However, most private kitchens do not have anti-fatigue matting like many restaurants do.
If you’re thinking about starting a personal chef business, make sure to buy non-slip shoes and anti-fatigue matting to reduce the strain on your back and feet as much as possible.
Clients Can Be Tough
Yes, you’ll get to learn lots of diets and cooking styles as a personal chef, but that only comes as a result of overcoming tough challenges. Personal interaction with your clients comes with a downside… negative reactions.
You have to remember that there are all kinds of people in the world, from extremely delicate allergies and other health conditions to very unusual and hard-to-decipher tastes, as well as people who are simply difficult to work with.
Like any other job, personal chefs don’t always have it easy, and they have to get out of their comfort zone to further develop their professional skills.
After analyzing these pros and cons, you should be able to get a broader view of what the personal chef job description is really like.
Sure, you get to run your own business and have a lot of control over who you work with and how much you earn, but you also have to take care of everything that comes with running a business and learn a lot about food safety and special diets.
What do you think? Do you feel that being a personal chef is the right thing for you? Let us know in the comments!
Author’s Bio – Megan J. Howard
After she had to quit her job as a teacher in 2016 due to osteoarthritis, Megan started her freelance writing career specialising in online learning copy. As she was researching many topics around arthritis, she decided to partner up with a long-time friend and built Find my Footwear. She spends her days writing, binging reality fashion series and hunting down the best stinky cheeses in town.
Posted In:Chef Life
Restaurant POS Software: 11 Must-Have Features for Chefs
October 23, 2019
With all the hustle and bustle of a dinner rush, your restaurant staff can get overwhelmed, especially your chefs.
Many restaurants purchase their POS software based on the needs of their customers and their employees who interact with customers, like cashiers and servers. However, few recognize the importance of considering system usability for their chefs, as well.
Your cooks are one of your business’s most important assets, if not the most important asset. They drive your customers’ experiences, so they shouldn’t have to waste their time with a clunky or unintuitive POS system that prevents them from doing their job.
Picking the right software can be difficult, so be aware of helpful features that can improve your business. When shopping for the best point-of-sale software for your restaurant, look out for the following necessary features for chefs:
- Speedy Interface
- Easy Management
- Inventory Control
- Detailed Product Reports
- Secure Mobility
- Accessible Online Sales
- Customer Order History
- Reliable, Customizable Hardware
- Stock Transfers Between Stores
- Comprehensive Training
- Quality Customer Service
Without your chefs, your restaurant couldn’t operate. Cooks are your restaurant’s leaders and need all the help they can get to run an efficient kitchen. Focus on making their experience just as good as your customers’ experiences, and your kitchen staff will be thankful!
If you need a quick refresher on the basics of restaurant POS systems and how they differ from retail platforms, check out this guide.
1. Speedy Interface
An intuitive interface that’s easy to navigate and use quickly is arguably the best feature in a point-of-sale system. When you have a Friday night dinner rush, a laggy system is your worst nightmare. Many of these systems rely on your internet bandwidth speed, so if you have slow internet, you’ll have a slow POS system, too.
Oftentimes, if your system isn’t processing properly (e.g. running slowly), there’s likely a network problem. To resolve this, try resetting your router. If the issue persists, it may be a problem with your POS system. Start by regularly updating your system, and if the problem continues, it may be time to upgrade to a new POS system provider.
All systems should be designed with efficiency in mind, but not all systems are. Your system should save time, not interrupt your workflow. When deciding on a new system, find out if it’s a local hardwired type, wifi-based, or both. From there, pick the type that will easily integrate in your restaurant’s daily operations.
2. Easy Management
Your point-of-sale system should work with you, not against you. There are hundreds of features out there, but if you choose software that offers features that you don’t really need, your workspace will be cluttered. A cluttered system makes it more challenging to find the features you do need, which is especially true when you’re on a time crunch.
Your system should allow you to complete basic tasks, like:
- Place orders
- Send tickets to the kitchen
- Limit which tickets/items the kitchen, bar, etc. need to receive
- Reorder drinks
- Update the menu
When your system is easy to use, your chefs can see exactly what they need when they need it. They won’t have to deal with excessive amounts of paper orders and can have all the information condensed onto one device.
Tip: To test a specific system, most software offers a free trial. That way you can test its functionality with your own staff and see if it’s a good fit.
3. Inventory Control
If your software offers inventory management, there’s no excuse not to use it. Chefs can update inventory as they go, so servers won’t have to step away from customers to check on the remaining stock in the kitchen.
When you have low-stock notifications, your cooks can save time by not needing to reiterate the low inventory to multiple servers when they place customers’ orders for unavailable dishes. This increases efficiency and improves the relationship between your cooks and servers.
Your kitchen should keep track of ingredients and raw goods, and doing it via a POS system is much quicker than by hand. Some systems even have the ability to give nutritional analysis and provide current ingredient pricing, allowing for smoother recipe and menu management.
Having the option to update menu items is also beneficial for your cooks, but some software requires all workstations to be restarted to see these changes, slowing down your staff. Look for an intuitive system that immediately shows these updates.
4. Detailed Product Reports
When you’re revamping your menu or creating a seasonal menu, you’ll want quick access to the best- and worst-selling menu items at specific times of the day, week, and year. A sales report does exactly this and helps you determine which ingredients the kitchen should stock up on or cut back on.
Choose a system that allows for custom reporting. That way, you can cut back on additional features you don’t need and zone in on your desired statistics. Some systems even allow you to toggle between numerical data and visual data like charts.
When you have a system that offers customizable, in-depth sales reports, your kitchen can find areas of improvement in their menu. You’ll boost sales and customer satisfaction.
5. Secure Mobility
You want sleek, mobile registers for seamless transactions, but what about mobility for your kitchen? Your kitchen staff will want to be able to pick up and go as they fill orders. You don’t want them wasting time going back and forth between a stationary list of orders and their workstation.
For instance, if you can use mobile devices like tablets, your chefs can quickly reference order tickets and move to different workstations with ease. They’ll also be able to instantly reference and update inventory counts as they go! Your entire restaurant should run seamlessly, which means having a mobile kitchen instead of once that’s slowed down by fixed terminals.
For more mobility throughout your whole restaurant, consider a mobile point-of-purchase system. You’ll want a cloud-based system that’s reliable and safe. Make sure all your customers’ and employees’ data will be secure through authentication and authorization with your new POS system.
6. Accessible Online Sales
Restaurants often run into the issue of synchronizing their online sales with their day-to-day operations. Instead of being greeted by angry customers whose online orders haven’t been fulfilled, you should have a POS that directly notifies your kitchen of incoming online orders.
Your software should integrate your online orders and in-person orders. Orders should correctly pull up based on a customer’s pickup time. On the customer’s end, you want a positive user experience, so make sure your system’s reliable and that no orders fall through the cracks.
All too often, customers get frustrated with making a purchase online and end up canceling their orders because of poor user experience. Swoop’s article on shopping cart abandonment highlights how these issues can be better addressed with the right approach to user experience on your website.
7. Customer Order History
When you have quick access to specific customers’ order histories in a customer database, you know who’s buying what and when. This allows you to better market your products and allows your cooks to prepare the right items at the right time.
By comparing customers’ order history and your detailed product reports, your chefs will know what they’re doing right and which dishes they can improve on or eliminate.
8. Reliable, Customizable Hardware
If your chefs are in the middle of preparing meals for dozens of hungry customers, the last thing you want is for your hardware to shut down on them. Some POS companies offer devices, like tablets, you can use with your system while others allow you to use your own devices.
Whichever route you take, make sure it’s reliable. Choose a system that allows users to customize their view and allows you to restrict employees’ access based on their position. That way, your chefs won’t be stuck staring at payment information while they’re trying to serve up meals.
9. Stock Transfers Between Stores
If you have multiple stores, inventory transfers can be a pain to keep up with. If you have a system that’s integrated between multiple locations, it should allow you to control inventory and view which inventory is located at which location.
With a POS system that offers inventory management, your chef will be able to evaluate current inventory and decide whether transferring a product to another store is feasible. With an online system, your kitchen staff will be able to read these stats in real-time, instead of having to set aside time to assess inventory or having to guess as to how much stock can be transferred without hurting their own restaurant’s operation.
It can be frustrating for chefs to get halfway through preparing a meal, only to realize the ingredients they need aren’t even there. Your waiters will then have to inform customers that their order can’t be fulfilled, leaving servers embarrassed and customers angry. Don’t put your cooks, servers, and customers in this position.
10. Comprehensive Training
When you’re properly trained on your system, you get the most bang for your buck. Not all systems come with training, so ask before purchasing. While some POS companies offer a trainer that works with you remotely or onsite, others have basic training videos posted online.
When you have adequate training that suits your staff, your chefs won’t have to waste time teaching new kitchen staff on how to use your sales system. This will give your chefs more time to serve customers and properly manage their kitchen.
11. Quality Customer Support
If your system malfunctions, you’ll want an effective customer support team for your system on your side. Otherwise, you’ll be facing the backlash of dozens of angry customers and an overwhelmed kitchen staff trying to fulfill unorganized handwritten orders.
Every system has its hiccups, so make sure your POS software provider has helpful, efficient customer support. Verify that they have 24/7 support, so your staff can contact them whenever something goes wrong.
A system with additional features like this can increase the cost of your system. Take a look at Lavu’s guide to restaurant POS system costs to help determine what features are most important to your restaurant.
Tip: When researching POS systems, don’t call the sales number first; call the support number first. That way, you can gauge how they’ll respond in the event your POS shuts down on you.
When choosing a restaurant POS system, there are several features you’ll want to consider to keep things running smoothly and quickly.
Remember you want a speedy, easy-to-manage system that can connect with reliable devices. Make sure your software offers online sales, order history, and stock transfers between stores.
Inventory control and sales reports can help you identify your best- and worst-selling menu items, so chefs can adjust accordingly. To run a seamless kitchen, choose a system that offers comprehensive training and 24/7 support, too!
Keep your chefs in mind when choosing your new system, because they’re one of your strongest assets and drive your business!
August 29, 2019
Digital Tools that allow Chefs to spend more time in the Kitchen
A chef’s role and responsibilities are increasingly diverse. A chef is largely responsible for the success a restaurant experiences. It’s a tough job and often a frantic one.
Chefs get into the business for the thrill of the fast paced environment and ideas conception, of course. Let’s not forget that a chef also gets into the business because they love to cook and prepare a variety of cuisines. The bigger the restaurant operation grows, the less time a chef gets to spend in their kitchen.
- Developing and planning new menus
- Budgeting menus
- Customer relations
- Train and manage the kitchen staff
- Inventory management
- Quality control
- Monitoring safety standards
With this in mind, let’s explore the digital tools available to chefs to alleviate some of the workload.
What’s a restaurant without diners? One of the key areas in which all restaurants will need to continue to thrive in, is customer retention and loyalty. The goal of course is to increase the number of visits a diner makes.
Social media is a fantastic tool to build brand awareness and drive direct bookings. Instagram has one of the largest ‘foodie’ communities. Investing time in social media will improve not only awareness, but loyalty. This is a free platform to tell your story.
Communicate new dishes and menus, menus of the day and the personality of your restaurant. Social media allows you to add a fun factor to your online personality.
There are a number of ways to harness the powers of social media. Invest in competitions to encourage engagement and growth, tell your story through beautiful imagery and allow your diners to do the talking for you. It is a fantastic platform for feedback and word of mouth.
There are a number of reservation software platforms to choose from in the marketplace right now. Which one you choose will largely depend on budget, demographic of your customer and the technology you have available to you in your restaurant.
Consider the impact that fees will have on your margins and the level of marketing investment an online booking platform will make to support your business.
Investing in a reputable and effective reservation software will alleviate some of the chef’s time. Not only will it allow for quick and easy online reservations, it will also allow the team to manage daily bookings and map the table plan throughout each day.
Most reservations software will also allow you to store important information including allergens and dietary requirements, special occasions and requests, as well as repeat bookings.
We briefly touched upon it, but the right reservation software will also double up as a marketing platform. Each online booking tool comes with its own vast database of regular diners. Another important opportunity to drive further business to your restaurant.
Inventory Management Software
Inventory management software allows very little room for errors. The system allows the chef to manage and monitor the food inventory, as well as track sales and cash flow. A great management software will also help to simplify the arduous task of bookkeeping.
Chefs can manage budget planning for food costs, as well as for new menus through the software – and identify most and least profitable items.
From both a margins perspective and ethical standpoint, the tool also has the ability to identify the level of food waste on a weekly, monthly and annual basis. Chef will be able to see just how much stock is left and what needs to be reordered.
Investing in this software will give chef the opportunity to upskill team members and hand over responsibility with little to no risk to the business. If that isn’t enough, you’re also able to run reports in minutes – without the hours of data entry.
Restaurants continue to move towards digital investment, as the rewards become more prevalent. What we must remember however, is that technology will not take away the need for the time invested in checks and balances.
A great chef has an inspired and skilled team, an innovative menu that is ahead of the curve and a full restaurant. These tools are designed to help with this process. Utilizing all that they have to offer will ultimately alleviate time. Time that can be reinvested in people, customer service and future innovation.
August 25, 2019
Gear for Chefs now available at our new online store Chefs Resources Merch!
Chef’s Resources gear for chefs is finally available at our new online store! Over the past few years we have had requests for us to turn some of our MEMEs and kitchen charts into posters to hang in your kitchens. It’s been a long time coming but we have finally found a company which will produce our gear on an order by order basis, meaning we do not have stock inventory, they will simply make it as soon as it is ordered. Check-out our new store at Chefs-Resources-Merch.com!
Chef gear includes a variety of mise en place posters to motivate your staff including “mise en place…ethos of the professional kitchen” and “mise en place…being able to tell that bitch Murphy’s Law to sit the #$!%@ down!” Posters are a available in a variety of sizes both in simple pin up versions and in higher quality framed versions.
Popular useful kitchen charts include “Wild Mushroom Foraging Seasons”, “Wild Foraged Produce Seasons“, “Disher Scoop Sizes & Volumes”, “Steamtable Pan Sizes & Capacities”, “Restaurant Can Sizes” and more. These are perfect to hang on the wall for reference for your crew, or in your office to help with planning menus according to the season.
And of course we have the obligatory coffee cups, water bottles, t-shirts, and utility bags for the small gear for chefs such as tweezers, peelers, oyster knives, sharpie markers, etc.
Tell me some of your favorite kitchen phrases which you would like to see on a T-shirt or poster. Some of my favorites include “Go cry in the walk-in”, “Don’t touch my mise”, and “Six stitches to go home early.”
If there is gear that you would like to see us carry, or a favorite kitchen phrase you’d like to see put on a T-shirt or poster, leave a comment below!
February 5, 2019
How to Competitively Price Your Menu
Pricing a menu is tricky business: price dishes too high, and you’ll turn off patrons. Price it too low and you’ll cut deep into your profit margins. It’s a skill to find that delicate balance, but here are some tips to help you with your restaurant competitive menu pricing strategy.
Start By Understanding Your Food Costs
Your foundation begins by determining food costs. Each ingredient you purchase for your menu has a per-dish cost, which may vary depending on supply and demand or season. Pull your recipe apart, ingredient by ingredient. And don’t overlook anything, including a tablespoon of olive oil or a sprinkling of salt. These may seem insignificant costs, but they add up across all dishes.
If you use restaurant inventory management software, you should be able to easily see the per-dish cost, since it’s input into your system.
Take Into Account Seasonality
Watermelon doesn’t come cheap in the winter…if it can be found at all. As you’re building your menu, realize that some ingredients are seasonal. You have a decision here: offer the dish only when the produce is in season or replace that ingredient with another (risotto is a great platform for whatever is in season).
You can also factor the seasonal fluctuations in price for that ingredient into the price you set for the menu year ‘round. Rather than raising the price of that tomato salad in the winter by $1, you can offset the expected price increase for the dish throughout the year.
Check Out Local Competitors’ Pricing
There’s nothing wrong with doing a little research: find out what nearby restaurants are charging for similar dishes. If you can match or beat the price, you’ll be assured of plenty of business. Charge too much above the competition, and you’ll risk losing customers based on price.
Understand Each Dish’s Potential Profit
One key component of your restaurant competitive menu pricing strategy is to understand margin. Not every dish will have the same profit margin. High-end cuts of meat like steak can be marked up 50% above cost, but salads, appetizers, and desserts can be marked up as much as 80% or more. The strategy here is to sell the items with more margin. Even though your salads & desserts may have a better food cost percentage than your steaks, you will make more more from the steaks, albeit at a higher food cost percentage.
Factor in Other Costs
Beyond food costs, you also have to cover your staff’s payroll, overhead, marketing, utilities, et cetera. Factor in a little extra to help cover these costs when pricing dishes for your menu on top of your profit margin to ensure that not only can you pay your expenses, but you also have enough to cover your other expenses.
Get a Pricing Strategy
Now that you’ve got a general idea of what to set prices at for dishes on your menu, it’s time to employ a little psychology. Don’t end your prices with .99. Patrons prefer whole dollars. If you run a higher-end restaurant business, don’t use the $ sign. It’s understood.
Feature dishes that you struggle to sell by highlighting them on the menu or having your wait staff list them as the daily special. This is a great way to get rid of ingredients that will go to waste in a few days if they aren’t used.
Be Cautious When Raising Prices
Once you’ve set menu prices, pause before raising them again soon. People become used to your prices and may balk at paying even $1 more. If you do plan to raise prices, let customers know, especially if something like an egg shortage in your area has impacted what you pay for ingredients. You can always lower prices if you aren’t seeing sales as high of a particular dish as you’d like, or put it on special for a week to test out a lower price first.
Be aware of pricing “ceilings”. Most guests won’t notice a price increase from $26 to $27, but increasing it from $29 to $30 will be more noticeable psychologically. Price ceilings are typically crossing the increments of 10 (10, 20, 30 etc).
Pay Attention to Your Menu Sales Mix
Your menu’s sales mix is something that will change over time, but tracking sales of each menu item can help you better strategize your profitability.
Naturally, you want to maximize the Stars on your menu — those items that are in high demand and that have high profitability. Dogs, however, have low profitability and demand, so you should consider removing them from the menu.
Include a mix of Plowhorses, which have low profitability but high demand (they may drive business into your restaurant, but you’ll attract diners to other menu items while they’re there).
When it comes to Puzzles, those menu items with high profitability but low demand, do some experimenting to see if you can increase sales of them. Lowering the price or featuring these menu items as daily specials can boost sales.
Pricing your menu items isn’t a simple process. But having a solid restaurant competitive menu pricing strategy is key to being successful. Take your time to ensure you find the perfect price that will help you sell many dishes and still make a profit. restaurant competitive menu pricing strategy