Want to up your cooking game? Keep learning.
Ask any chef what’s one of the most important things he or she can do to improve and you’re likely to hear the words “keep learning”. While ongoing education doesn’t have to mean taking a class – although that is an option – there are several ways chefs, backyard or professional, can hone their culinary skills.
If you’ve got a passion for food, love to cook and have a burning desire to get better at it, you’re already well-positioned for success. There’s no end to the options for learning for aspiring and professional chefs. It all depends on your level of interest and your availability.
Enrolling in a local or online cooking class or advanced education course is one way to expand on your existing skill set (grilling) or add to your knowledge of an alternate discipline (bread-making). To get started, check out offerings from local community colleges or the nearest cooking school.
Don’t forget to look into apprenticeship or certification programs, too. Remember any education and training you take makes you more valuable so, if you’re already part of the food services or restaurant industry, ask your employer if they will help pay a portion of your education costs.
Consider joining a group or association, which offer significant growth and development opportunities for members. Aspiring grill enthusiasts can join the Canadian BBQ Society or the Grillmasters Club. More advanced chefs might enjoy the Culinary Institute of America, International Association of Culinary Professionals or the Canadian Culinary Federation. Most groups and associations hold annual conferences as well as regular workshops and seminars. These provide even more prospects for you because you get to meet others in the profession, which can open up mentoring opportunities.
Part of ongoing education in the food prep industry also involves staying on top of emerging trends and learning about new cooking techniques or the latest tools of the trade. Industry events like the Chef To Chef Conference or the NRA (National Restaurants Association) Show are the ideal place to immerse yourself in these activities.
Attending local food and drink expos is another excellent opportunity. Local dealers who stock grills and grill accessories can be a great source of information as well as they are often in the know about what’s happening and where. If you find there’s enough interest with people in your community, you could even start your own grilling club.
Last, but certainly not least, keep cooking. Cook for yourself, cook for others or just cook for fun. It’s the best way to learn and to become more efficient at what you already know.