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James Goforth

Summary

I think being mostly self taught it can be hard to get employers to take the time to evaluate your skill level. Many restaurants in smaller communities are especially challenged in this area. A chef can teach himself as good as any apprenticeship can teach him in France, Spain or any where else. This requires a lot of self analysis, a lot a book study, and an open minded approach to new ideas. Do not ignore your chefs let them evaluate what is expected of them and sincerely listen to their proposals. This encourages self driven development. Another area I find that challenges employers is they do not allow chefs to spend the time necessary to set their stations up properly. Many restaurants fly by the seat of their pants and never set proper schedules for prepping. Prepping involves creating the base sauces, butchering and other things, but lets not forget the line setup. Employers want chefs to set up but how is this to be done when the kitchen is very busy at all times. I think a chef should expect the employer to take a close look at kitchen operations and realize if the kitchen is busy the entire day, there must be either time early in the morning or even at the end of the shift to do this. There is a preferable alternative to this and that would be to have the prep cooks to constantly monitor the kitchen line for low levels of product and act as what is sometimes termed a rover. The rover is constantly stepping on and off the line allowing the line personnel to stay focused on creating menu items as they are ordered. I have worked for people who like none of my dishes at all. This is likely the result of being a business owner without visualization and possibly someone who has not allowed his chefs to develop ideas outside of his supervision. A person can definitely have jaded taste buds and again this is something I see in smaller communities a lot. The waitstaff is my barometer. They want really good entrees so they can make nice tips. In as far a food preparation and entree development goes, I truly believe it is a scientific fact whether a dish is tasty or not. I have heard chefs say things like I don't like this so have someone else work with that ingredient. This is a sign of underdevelopment of the taste buds and food knowledge by the chef. If a chef doesn't like a particular ingredient he should have enough knowledge to realize opinions are not facts. To be able to work with any and all ingredients to make dishes that are appealing is a skill all true chefs should have. Tasting is important and as a chef has worked in many kitchens he should be able to reverse engineer recipes to some degree. Smells and sights and working with other chefs should help a chef develop a vision for all ingredients. I truly believe a dish that perfectly interacts with your taste buds can have just about any ingredient and produce the Wow factor in your guests. I think how a food hits the taste buds is key to understanding how many people will honestly love the dish in question and again this is something that I believe to be based on scientific facts. People can have all kinds of mental issues with foods including believe they are allergic to an ingredient when in reality they just don't like it. The onion is given a bad wrap in this way all the time. I hear people say, " Does the soup have onions in it? If it does they wont eat it. I can say with almost 100% certainly I can make a soup with some onions that the customer would love and not realize they are there. They have probably just had bad run ins with some ingredients and has jaded their taste buds. This is not to say food allergies are not a valid issue to be considered when preparing food for a guest. That is another subject entirely.

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