12 Things for Young Culinarians to Know
By Adam Weiner, CFSE


In honor of the 12 Days of Christmas, and December being the 12th month, I will recap the 12 things that young culinarians must know to be able to keep their jobs in a commercial or corporate kitchen.

  1. If the chef (or boss) asks you to do something, you ask yourself three questions: Is it illegal? Is it immoral? Is it dangerous? If the answer to all three is NO, the only thing you can say is “Yes, Chef.”
  2. If you don’t know how to do what the chef is asking you to do, you say: “Yes Chef, please show me how you would like it done.”
  3. Do what the chef says, not what you think the chef wants. If you are not sure what the chef wants, then ask the chef directly.
  4. “My bad” is not an option. No one will pay you for excuses. They want you to do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do it.
  5. A well-run commercial kitchen will earn $4 to $7 net profit (before tax) on $100 of sales. (At first you might not see why you need to know this, but young culinarians needs to realize that every dollar he or she wastes severely cuts into the company’s profit.)
  6. What do you call a cook who doesn’t watch food costs? “Unemployed.”
  7. If you have nothing to do in a commercial kitchen, you clean.
  8. Clean as you go!
  9. Arriving 15 minutes early is late. You need to arrive early so you can change into your uniform, hit the restroom, read the prep sheet, etc., and be at your station ready to go five minutes early.
  10. You need to be at work every day. Calling in sick is better than not calling in, but the work doesn’t get done that way. You are expected to be at work every day you are scheduled.
  11. Remember the Seven Ps of Professional Cooking:
    Preparation (mise en place)
    Passion (note: The passion needs to be not only a passion to cook, but a passion to work hard, as well)
    Pride in What You Prepare
    Presentation (You eat first with your eyes)
    Profit (If the business doesn’t make a profit on you, you will be gone)
  12. You are being hired not to cook, but to work. Work will include cooking, but cooking isn’t the most important factor. Don’t believe me? Review the rules above and note that only number 11 refers to cooking.
Happy Holidays to All
Chef Adam Weiner Culinary Director

About Chef Adam Weiner

Adam Weiner is Flagship Culinary Service’s Director of Training and Development. Working in the California offices. He has created programs that can be used at any location to mentor, train, and develop Flagship’s talent so that people on all levels, can get the training and knowledge they need to get promoted. He has been in the culinary education field for over 15 years and has published over 150 articles for the Center of Advancement of Food Service Education, the American Culinary Federation, and for Restaurant and Hospitality.

This article was originally published by the Center for Advancement of Food Service Education (CAFÉ) in December, 2012. We thank the Center for Advancement of Food Service Education for allowing Adam to reprint his articles with Flagship Culinary. If you would like more information on Adam’s promotion programs, or want to know about additional articles, please contact him at aweiner@flagshipinc.com.