Cooking shows on TV have been around for decades. I’ve watched them too and enjoyed a lot of them. I learned. It is always great to see how fellow colleagues share their passion, knowledge, and ideas. If someone ever offered doing a show to me, I’d probably do it.
Me during a photo shoot for a TV production in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2010
These TV chefs inspire a lot of people, there is no question about that. But here is the issue: many youngsters watching these shows seem to get the wrong perception of the real profession of being a chef. All the audience sees is a show. That’s what it is. It is a cooking show on TV. It is pure entertainment, otherwise no one would watch!
It has absolutely nothing to do with real life in real kitchens. It is all about TV ratings. So far so good, as there is nothing wrong with that. But in my opinion young people get a distorted view about things. The impression is created that everything is easygoing and fun. Well, to be honest, that is the way it should be, no doubt.
But if you’re an aspiring chef, do you also know that you will have to make a great deal of commitment? Chefs work on public holidays, Christmas, Idul Fitri, Chinese New Year, Deepavali and so on, not to forget New Year’s Eve. You will most likely work more than eight hours, sometimes many days in a row. The kitchen is noisy, it can get hot. You’ll get yelled at. You’ll burn yourself with hot oil and other liquids. You’ll have to reorganize the deep freezer, spending thirty minutes at minus 18° is not fun.
Heavy lifting, cleaning of walk-in chillers and working double shift when your colleague doesn’t show up is no fun. On top of that you’ll have a boss who kicks your butt. Sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it?
I hope you’ve developed a little taste for real kitchen life from this article so far. I highly recommend that you do an internship in a restaurant or hotel of your choice before you even make a serious decision whether to become a professional chef.
A practicum is an excellent opportunity to spend a few days in a real kitchen and get literally a real taste of culinary matters.
You will notice quickly if you like it or not. I did the same thing, when I spent two weeks at a small hotel near Müggelsee in the Friedrichshagen district of Berlin in 1992 and I liked it. The work was interesting, and the chefs treated me fairly. Most of the time my buddy and me were just peeling potatoes and onions all day long. Other than that, we were operating the dishwashing machine. But hey, who wants to complain because at the end, we both received a big fat bowl of ice cream as a sign of appreciation and delight.
That practicum helped me to make up my mind and after that I decided to become a professional chef. I think many people really don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes in a kitchen. That’s also the reason why I wrote my first book “Slamming It Out!”.
Many people don’t realize that many of the most successful TV chefs are very experienced. They are award winning guys who’ve worked very hard to become what they are today. Most of these chefs busted their butts off. They went through a lot.
What folks nowadays only see is the tip of the iceberg, the so-called “success.” The tip of the iceberg represents probably 5% of the entire commitment, discipline, persistence, perseverance, patience and focus that went into this adventure. The remaining 95% is hidden underneath a surface of many years of learning, training, making mistakes, growth, failure, and development.
You don’t just finish school and become a TV chef. No way my friend! If it is your goal to become a TV chef one day, then this is a very honorable goal and I respect and support you. But first you must learn your lessons and there are many lessons to be learned, believe me.
Have I wetted your appetite for more? Great, then you might want to check out my BOOK for more adventures, tips and tricks you need to get what you want out of your kitchen career and life!
Have a good one and Happy New Year 2021 everybody!!