What It Takes to be a Great Chef

What It Takes to be a Great Chef
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What It Takes to be a Great Chef

Find out what qualities great chefs have from the woman who's seen it all, Chef Anne Burrell.


There is definitely a lot you can learn on the job, but talent is important too. Burrell explains, "First of all [you] have to be a good cook."

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Burrell believes creativity is a must for a chef to succeed.

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Cooking is a skill that must be honed, like anything else, and according to Burrell, patience is a virtue in the culinary world.

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Teaching Ability

Creating a fantastic dish is one thing, but clearly explaining how to prepare it is quite another. "If I can't express and teach people what [my] vision is, how do I expect them to replicate it," explains Burrell.

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Bringing passion to your work will make you a more determined chef. "Be passionate," Burrell advises. "Sometimes [that] means you have to take the good with the bad. Passion sometimes flows in two directions. You can tell right away when you walk into a restaurant if it is a passionate place or not."

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"You have to have the humility to understand that just because you like [your food] doesn't mean that anyone else does," Burrell explains. "You are only as good as what people are willing to come out and pay for."

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In moderation, an ego is an important factor in the confidence with which you can send out a dish. According to Burrell, "You have to have the ego to put yourself out there on every single plate that you serve to your guests."

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Business Savvy

Burrell believes that a great chef must "have a good business sense. If you don't manage your business well, you are going to be out of business."

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Something is bound to go awry in any new undertaking. Burrell advises chefs to be problem solvers."Things happen," Burrell says. "If you are inflexible, you are not going to go far in this business. You have to be able to roll with the punches and figure out how to keep calm and carry on."

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Being a chef is hard work.

Between making sure dishes go out on time and exploring unique approaches to traditional food, cooking professionally is no piece of cake. Just ask chef Anne Burrell.

Burrell can attest to the all-consuming profession of cooking for a living that is both mentally and physically tiring:

"It's nights, it's weekends, it is long hours, it's hot. It doesn't pay well. It's standing up. You don't get to wear pretty dresses to work, you don't get to have a lovely manicure, you wash your hands 1000 times a day. It is physically demanding."

While Burrell is thrilled to have found her passion in life, she won't sugar-coat the exhausting life of professional chef: "Whoever said being a chef was glamorous...? It cracks me up! I have no idea where that came from."

Burrell is always up to the challenge though, citing hard work and dedication as the key elements to progressing in the culinary world. "You spend a lifetime and a career practicing and redoing and repeating. There is no shortcut for experience." According to the chef, there is no substitute for direct knowledge acquired from spending hours in the kitchen. It is not a process you can rush. "Just because you work in a kitchen does not mean you are a chef," she explains. "I think people try to rush to get the chef title too quickly and they miss a lot of experiences."

Check out the slideshow above to learn what it takes to be a great chef according to Anne Burrell.

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