Essential Skills a Chef Needs in their Toolkit

Working as a chef requires you to have a broad skill set. Not only do you need to be able to cook to a high standard, but you must possess the skills and qualities needed to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment too. This post will highlight the essentials that a chef should possess and what skills interviewers will also be looking out for when you attend job interviews.

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Culinary Prowess

Top chefs have a mastery of the culinary arts. Chef school trains students in fundamental and advanced cooking techniques and the ability to cook is essential for being a chef. Having culinary prowess also means that you have a mastery of cooking many different types of foods too, from vegetables to pastries.

Attention to Detail

Keen attention to detail, especially when it comes to the presentation and decoration of dishes, is an essential skill to have within the kitchen environment. As well as this, using precise means of measuring ingredients also ensures the perfect dish, every time.

Food and Kitchen Safety

Certain rules need to be followed within the kitchen environment due to the potential hazards that can present themselves. It is also important to always keep the kitchen sanitary, especially in food preparation areas where hazards like cross-contamination can occur.

Business Savvy

When you move up the ranks, knowing how to manage inventory, budget successfully, cook cost-effectively and source affordable, quality ingredients to reduce overall costs is a very useful skill to have. This is especially true when you consider that the cheaper the food is, without compromising heavily on quality, the higher the profit margin the restaurant will receive per meal.

Leadership Skills

Being able to manage a team in a dynamic environment like a kitchen isn’t easy. Personalities can clash and chefs may fall out, but bringing the team together and keeping them working together means that the kitchen will be able to run much more smoothly. Having a great communication style and passion for people is key to being a good leader, and if done correctly, will enable you and your team to work together more efficiently.

Working in a Team

The ability to work in a team is one of the most important skills to have whilst working in a kitchen. Whether that be aspects such as communication with one another, accepting feedback on one of your dishes that may not have been quite up to standard, and collaborating with other members of the team to ensure a well-presented, delicious dish is served every time. As well as this, most chefs have a high level of emotional intelligence in order to work in a fast-paced environment like a kitchen where tensions may run high due to being under pressure. Luckily, teamwork skills can be developed over time.

Making Decisions on the Fly

Working in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment will need teamwork and require you to think on your feet. Spur-of-the-moment decisions are often crucial when it comes to making certain dishes that could easily burn if they are left unattended, or if there is no time to run the decision past anyone else first, especially when you are multitasking.

Creative Thinking

When working in a kitchen environment and creating dishes, you will often need to think creatively in all aspects of the preparation process. From clever flavour infusions and inspired plating to menu design and experimentation with popular dishes, being a chef allows you to tap into your creative imagination to put your own twist on dishes, making them stand out and appeal to a wider audience.

Multi-tasking and Organisation

Chefs often must do multiple things at once, which can make it difficult to keep track of tasks, however, being able to keep track of tasks will enable you to complete them all within a given time. Multi-tasking includes working efficiently, both independently and as a team. Keeping organised, especially in your work area, helps you to find and use utensils quickly for example. Committing to quality requires both exceptional multi-tasking and organisational skills.


Apart from being able to cook, this list of essential chef skills will have showcased the other skills and qualities that are needed to be a successful chef. Although skills such as being able to work in a team and leadership may not be something that comes naturally to you, they are some of the many skills that you can develop over time, especially as you gain experience working in the kitchen environment.

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