The Ten Commandments of a Junior Chef from Stephen Billingham

  • Thou Shalt Keep Your Knives Sharp
    Your most basic tool is your knife it’s like an extension of your hand.
    To cut well all your knives must be sharp.
    Make sharpening a daily routine at the very least and remember, it is never the knife’s fault.
  • Thou Shalt 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 always the most popular or most famous, it can just as easily be a chef in a small   place who is simply very organised and very good.
  • Keep Thee Station Orderly
    Form the storage of vegetables to the finishing of mise-en-place, everything needs to be marked, date labelled, and in proper containers, taking up minimum room.
    A well organised station also gets respect from the rest of the kitchen.
  • Thou Shall Purchase Wisely 
    A profitable restaurant runs on the same principle as a housewife’s kitchen: Use everything. 
    Pay attention to the price of ingredients and keep them in line with what a customer will pay. 
    The more you utilise everything, the more you will be able to afford the best ingredients. 
    A great chef respects the culinary value of every ingredient – from a tomato to a truffle.
  • Thou Shall Season with Precision 
    Proper seasoning enhances the taste of every ingredient. 
    There is an exact point at which ingredients are seasoned correctly. More is not always better. 
    Learning how to season correctly requires endless practice.
  • Thou Shall Master the Heat 
    From 50C to 500C ,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.
  • Thou Shall Learn the World of Food 
    Experience different cuisines whenever you can. 
    Do it when you are young, as 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
  • Thou Shalt 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.
  • Thou Shall Accept Criticism
    As a young chef, you spend your days and nights being criticized and analysed by the chefs you work  
    for. 
    It is important to ACCEPT criticism. 
    It is equally important to learn how to criticize when you become a full-fledged chef. 
    And finally, you must learn from the criticism. 
    Criticism is the people’s way of telling you how to improve on your results.
  • Thou Shall Keep a Journal of Thee Recipes
    You cannot remember everything you see, or have cooked, but with a journal, a computer and a digital camera. You can bring those taste memories back to life and they will act as your guidance and support throughout your Professional Career.