For me, 2015 was a challenging year. In addition to some shake-ups in my personal life (changing relationship status, and then moving apartments…twice), I also graduated from culinary school and began a new career in food. I felt incredibly lucky to be following my passion with support from family and friends, but I was constantly anxious about my future. After almost 10 years in web design, I felt like I was starting my professional life over from scratch. And with the new career came a whole new set of colleagues, challenges, and jobs—including a brief stint as a restaurant line cook. Beyond the importance of checklists, large amounts of caffeine, and comfortable footwear, I learned a lot from my experience in the culinary world. Some of the lessons were not exactly new, but they guided me—both in and out of the kitchen—as I set out on my new path. Here are the 6 that have become indispensable to me.
1. Communicate clearly (and don’t take criticism personally).
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A professional kitchen is filled with sharp tools, tight workspaces, blind corners and people who are constantly in a hurry. That also means it can be a very dangerous place; a kitchen is only functional when everyone communicates clearly and quickly. You are constantly notifying others of where you are (“Behind you!”), what you are doing (“Reaching!”), and what kind of hazardous item you are wielding (“Sharp!” “Hot!”). And yes, if you are doing something incorrectly, your chef will let you know that clearly as well, not to berate you but so you can fix the problem as quickly as possible. Often this kind of direct communication is taken as offense, but in the kitchen direct communication is not an affront: it is essential and must be accepted and utilized.