Is the bumper-to-bumper traffic on Celebrity Chef Highway ruining the industry? If the new chef in your kitchen assumes they will be signing books at Border´s as soon as the Truffle Chutney Soufflé is discovered how will this affect your restaurant’s future? It’s something every owner needs to eventually deal with.
Oh, yes, chefs and celebrity are the new professional trend. And many eyes recently looking
at a stove in culinary school are set on their name in lilghts. Nothing can divide a kitchen faster than discovering the chef you recently hired to lead your kitchen is a megalomaniac. Except of course, to realize his dream is to replace Gordon Ramsey in Hell´s Kitchen, but before he does, he is using yours to hone his skills in Ramsey-isms.
During a recent conversation with a working chef that has all the qualities of celebrity, the topic of flooding the market with "brand chefs" came up. It is becoming more obvious with each meal that appears almost homemade that cooking skills are being created by marketing gurus rather than being acquired in successful working kitchens.
In this world of virtually everything, reality, except reality itself, it seems those little Bambi canvasses that once encouraged paint-by-numbers have been replaced by cooking with TV.
The disparaging divide between celebrity chef and working chef has painted a picture for new hires that could prove horrendous for owners in future years.
Rick Bayless, one of the true celebrity chefs, is more than just a TV personality. His doctoral work in Anthropological Linguistics obviously laid the foundation for his continual search and discovery of neighborhood tastes and flavors in the hidden villages of Mexico. Long before Bayless captured celebrity, he became a chef and trendsetter through yearly travels to exotic spots extracting flavors and techniques that only an adventurer could uncover. Today, Bayless still journeys in search of that far away flavor.
Take Flay, Emeril, Batali, and a handful of others who have toiled on the lower rungs of the ladder before making the climb to TV stardom- each has had his day at the prep table before finding their branding star. Yet, this is seldom brought to light with new chefs.
Before you hire your new chef, or promote your sous to a higher position, take time to explain a few things about celebrity.
Here are few tips to discuss with your new hire:
1. Few chefs become TV Stars.
2. Well-known chefs — those household names- have worked hard in their kitchens in order to develop successful restaurants and a following.
3. It takes more than a rapid-fire mirepoix technique to be on TV
4. Once you hire handlers, you are handled.
5. Not only does a personality chef need to know how to cook, but they also must be able to teach newcomers how to take over the line in case opportunity decides to dine. Few celebrity chefs spend much time in their kitchens once their star begins to rise. Passing on the knowledge to keep the restaurants operating is one of the toughest jobs known to man.
6. Chefs have to leave their egos at the door.
7. If they leave them at culinary school graduation, that is even better.
8. A celebrity chef must not only possess an ability to cook creatively, but they must also know the fundamentals of management, business, and personality. Creating a trend, successfully experimenting with flavors and ingredients and becoming know for that is an advantage. This will also help put your restaurant in the spotlight.
9. The road to celebrity-ville is long and tedious. The restaurant and the job come first.
10. Becoming a celebrity begins on the line and extends to the dining room.