It is important to realize that there is a world of dishes you do not know about
What is an important mindset for being a chef?
You cannot acquire all the techniques just from training. The important thing is what you do after your training. You should interact with different people and always think about the menus, store design, hospitality, and what you can do to make the customers happier.
Serving good food is one of the most basic things in this business. But radically put, if a chef knows how to please the customer, the customer will be satisfied even if the food is not perfect. For example, a good chef will make the customers anticipate their dining experience from the moment they walk in the store, or even better, when they receive a call for reservation. And no matter what kind of taste you are pursuing, the Dashi (soup) does not change in Japanese cuisine. And there are many ways to reach the ideal taste when it comes to Dashi. You can change the ingredients to make all kinds of Dashi. But to pursuit your ideal, first you must realize that there are dishes at that level. It is important to realize that there is a world of dishes you do not know about.
For instance, if you go abroad, there are so many dishes you do not know about. So even with the same ingredient, you find many ways to approach it. When you learn about an approach that is not in Japanese foods, you can try it out and end up with something completely different. Doing this over and over again is what you need to do in order to level up as a chef.
The ability to establish relationships to gain knowledge about things you do not know
What do you prioritize when training staff? Do you have any advice to young people who are thinking about becoming a chef?
The most important thing is relationship with other people. There is a lot of pride in the world of chefs. For instance, when teaching their pupils, some chefs will show off their techniques with the knife. But the important thing is to learn about the “reason” behind each teaching. For example, why is it better to cut/cook certain ingredients a certain way? How does the surface change after 1 hour? And why? It’s pointless if you just copy the method.
And if you want your master to teach you the reasons, it is very important that you establish a healthy relationship with the master so that he will be happy to teach you. I’m not saying be an apple-polisher. Show them you are working harder than others, and then the master will think, “Perhaps I will take some of my time to teach him a few things”. Then the master will teach you all kinds of things you did not know about.
I see. It is important to become a person that others will be willing to teach. Are there any tips for establishing a healthy relationship?
All you need is to do the basics. For instance, saying hello. Good morning, thank you, thank you for the meal. There are many young people today who cannot do this. Some cannot apologize even when they do something bad. If you do this, it will be hard to establish a good relationship and people will drift away from you.
This goes for any field of business. The most important thing is being able to do the basic stuff as a working person. If you can do that, people will look after you and teach you. Then, you can step up the ladder too.
You said people were much more strict when you were young. Did you struggle with anything when you were young?
I never thought it was hard. But when I was young, I came into the kitchen before anyone. I got into the business after college, so I had many Senpai chefs although they were younger than me. But being the older chef, I felt like I needed to catch up, regardless of the lack of experience. So I came in earlier than anyone and finished my chores to make time for my elders to teach me new things.
I see, so what you learned in high school is working to your benefit.
Yes indeed. When you’re young, people help you with your work all the time and you need to have the basic character as a working person. Those who do not appreciate what others do for them will not be able to receive help when they need it the most.
When you see someone who is working hard to step up, you want to teach them. But if someone cannot even say hello or reply to you, you won’t. If you ask for it, there are many things others will teach you. But to do that, you have to at least show sincerity.