Daniel Boulud's Ten Commandments of a Chef
1. Keep Your Knives sharp
Your most basic tool is your knife. To cut well, all of your knives must be sharp. Make sharpening a daily ritual at the very least. A knife is not like a car that breaks down. If it does not perform, you have not kept it sharp. Remember, it is never the knife’s fault.
2. Work with the best people
To become a great chef you do not need to work with twenty top chefs. You need to experience three or four very good chefs. The best is not necessarily the most popular or most famous, it can just as easily be a chef in a small place who is simply very organized and very good. Focus on a few chefs for your foundation, then for specialties- for example, charcuterie, pastry and so on- you can do internships.
3. Keep Your Station Orderly
From the storage of vegetables to the finishing of mise-en-place, everything needs to be marked, labeled and in the proper containers, taking up the minimum of room. Then, during service, you will be able to fill orders with maximum efficiency. A well-organised station also gets respect from the rest of the kitchen.
4. Purchase Wisely
The profitable restaurant runs on the same principle as the frugal housewife’s kitchen: Use everything, because everything you do not use is potential profit that goes straight into the garbage. Any underutilized food items will affect your food costs. Pay attention to the price of ingredients and keep them in line with what a customer will pay for a dish. The more you utilize everything, the more you will be able to afford the best ingredients. A great chef respects the culinary value of every ingredient- from truffle to turnip.
5. Season with Precision
The taste of every ingredient is elevated by proper seasoning. There is an exact point at which ingredients are seasoned correctly. More is not always better.
Learning the peculiarities of your palate and attuning it to finished results requires precision and endless practice.
6. Master the Heat
From 120*F to 800*F- there is an enormous range for heat to affect ingredients. A truly great cook has such an intimate knowledge of heat that he or she develops a sixth sense of timing for the moment of doneness. Learn the basics of heat in the classical repertoire.
7. Learn the world of Food
Experience different cuisines whenever you can. Do it when you are young, before you are building your career. Learning other cuisines will broaden your foundation as a chef. Even when you have begun to progress through the ranks of the kitchen, use your time off to go places, try new restaurants, buy books. In other words, immerse yourself in the world of food.
8. Know the Classics
No matter what cuisine you concentrate on, the classic dishes will cover the spectrum of techniques and ingredients needed to master a cuisine. The fundamentals of stocks, sauces and seasoning are all there in the classics… whether that classic is clam chowder in Cape Cod or bouillabaisse in Marseilles.
9. Accept Criticism
As a young chef, you spend your days and nights being criticized and analyzed by the chefs for whom you work. It is important to learn from criticism. It is equally important to learn from criticism. It is equally important to learn how to criticize usefully when you become a full fledged chef. And finally, you must learn from the criticism of the public. Recognise that to keep yourself interested you are constantly varying, innovating and reinventing, succeeding at times and needing more work at others. Criticism is the public’s way of telling you how to improve on the results of your creative impulses.
10. Keep a Journal of your Recipes
You cannot remember everything you see cooked, or even have cooked, but with a journal, a computer, a digital camera, you can bring those taste memories to life to guide you for the rest of your professional life.
I wonder how many even get #1 right? Ha Ha
Thanks, I re-posted this on facebook...hope that's ok.
I actually bought his book 'Letters to a Young Chef'.. It's pretty good for someone who is wondering if this is the career that they want.
I just ordered that one actually, been meaning to get around to it for some time now. Just got started in the industry back in January so I'm looking for all the advice and knowledge I can get my paws on and that seemed like a good resource.
I bet #4 is an oft overlooked one. My Chef is always reminding me that "the profits are in the garbage can."
cant agree more i wish all my cooks would read this/ strive to do there best.
Good stuff. I am not a cheff, but having been in and around business I agree with #4. Most of the time, you might think that the BIG expenses like labor costs, overhead etc, are what kill you, but as the bottom line can often look pretty small compared to the top line in many types of businesses, even very successful ones, so the little stuff can make a big difference.