Samantha Biagio: Chef
Can you describe a typical day on the job?
A typical day at work depends on which company you work for. Typically, in a restaurant, café or hotel you would start your day by preparing for service. This includes everything from getting the components of your dish together to garnish to setting up your station for service.
I work for a very large catering company at two sport stadiums. Our preparations start anything from three to one day before the actual event, depending on the numbers we have to cater for (which can run into the thousands per event!). On the actual event day, we do our service. This would include preparing any last-minute ingredients, setting up our stations, cooking meals, plating and then, after everything is done, cleaning up the kitchen.
Why did you choose to become a Chef?
I grew up in the restaurant industry. My dad owned and managed various restaurants and I worked there every weekend. My mother owned a little café, which I managed for a while before starting university. I have always loved to cook!
I remember standing on a chair next to my dad every evening while “we” made dinner, watching every step, imitating him, tasting as we went along, laughing and discussing ingredients and finally enjoying the meal we made together.
We watched cooking shows and would try to make the meals we thought would taste nice. For me, cooking is my love language. It brings back happy memories and helps me make happy memories with my kids.
What are three key personality aspects or skills that make for a good Chef?
You must be a team player.
I think it is important to be able to get along with people in the kitchen. We work together for long hours and it makes the day go faster if there is a friendly and respectful atmosphere. Gone are the days when people could behave and talk to each other like you see on “Hell’s Kitchen” or “The F word”.
You need to be able to follow instructions and lead when called upon
You need to have a good work ethic.
If you aren’t prepared to eat and pay for the meal you are serving don’t serve it. Be proud of what you made.
Be diligent, precise and organised
What have you learned about yourself through the work that you do?
I have learned that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. I have learned to focus on myself and do the best I can do. Sometimes, tasks seem impossible or service is a nightmare, but if you take a deep breath and take it one step at a time you will get through it.
What’s been your best moment while doing your work?
There are been several “best” moments. It is the best feeling when your efforts are recognised and acknowledged by others, whether it is customers, your boss or the front-of-house staff.
How do you keep going when things get really tough?
I take a deep breath and focus on the here and now. If I can’t cope or don’t know what to do, I ask for help.
Any advice for young people who’d like to pursue a career as a chef, or in related industries?
Do what makes your heart sing and brings you joy.
That way you will never have a job – you will have a career that is deeply satisfying. It might be something you do for the rest of your life. Being a chef is not easy. It’s hard work and requires long hours on your feet. Sometimes a 16-hour shift (standing) with only an hour break! Kitchens are hot and people get cranky. Be willing to learn every day. Watch your managers and peers and grow. Always ask questions and do your best.
Does this sound like the job for you? Learn more about becoming a Chef or working in hospitality-related industries here! There are loads of interesting industry and career options to browse on Skillsroad: discover them all here!
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