A-Z Reasons Why Chefs are Essential in a Kitchen and Society.


Without chefs, there would be a considerable gap in the world.  After all, much of life happens around food, and chefs take food, something we all need to survive and create it in a way that elevates our experience of a particular event because we remember how great the food was.

From the research I’ve done, it’s clear that today’s chefs play a more vital role than ever before because they are no longer hidden away in the kitchen cooking; they are not only more visible in the restaurants they serve but also make a difference in the society in which they live.

This article looks extensively at the valuable role of a chef. Let’s start by answering these questions:

Is being a chef an important job?

Being a chef is an important job: Chefs are vital to restaurant and entertainment business success. They are trained to give good food service and run a good kitchen. People relax, celebrate and do business around food, and the chef’s food that tastes and looks good, adds to the event’s success.

What is the most important part of being a chef?

The most important part of being a chef is the ability to cook like a professional using technical skill, scientific knowledge, experience, and chef intuition fine-tuned from hours of cooking to make meals that taste, smell, feel and look good, giving diners an elevated dining experience beyond home cooking.

We held a function at home, and our son, a trainee chef, catered for our guests. The chicken dish he prepared was out of this world, beyond what I could have made, even by following a recipe.

Why chefs are important in the kitchen business and society.

Chefs have played an important role in 1. the operational running of a kitchen, 2. the business success of a commercial kitchen, 3. benefiting the local community by, for one, employing locals and 4.  Responding to broader social needs like food wastage and hunger.

This section evaluates why chefs are so crucial in these areas:

1. Chefs are important for a commercial kitchen to succeed.

There are several reasons why chefs are needed to ensure the operational and business success of a kitchen:

Chefs cook quality food for a great customer experience.

Chefs have the end customer in mind, cooking food they will enjoy and return for. Throughout the food preparation experience, from preparing vegetables in a way that is visually appealing to the meal cooked and plated to perfection, chefs only think of the final experience when the customers eat and enjoy their meal.

This drives authentic chefs; they produce quality food, which is vital for the business’s success.

Chefs are food creators and expand customer experiences.

Chefs are constantly experimenting and creating new dishes to expand the food experiences of clients. New dishes and trendy food are introduced, and seasonal changes are made to restaurant menus. Chefs also design dishes catering to diverse nutritional and dietary needs—all these help draw clients and ensure business success.

Chef leaders ensure smooth-running kitchens.

Chefs running a kitchen, like an executive chef, with the support of the second-in-charge sous chef, are crucial to ensuring that kitchen operations function well, from the movement layout in the kitchen, managing costs and supplies to managing staff and ensuring the safety of staff and food.

Chefs work as a team to ensure a successful kitchen.

If chefs did not work as a team, with different stations making different parts of one meal and coordinating the various kitchen activities to ensure an efficient kitchen, they would not be able to produce significant quantities of food on time to ensure happy customers, especially at peak service times when the restaurant is full.

Chefs run cost-effective and economically viable kitchens.

How a head chef manages kitchen overheads can make or break a restaurant. They must cost food correctly to set prices that enable the kitchen to operate profitably and manage kitchen overheads and stock profitably by not over-buying, resulting in wastage or underbuying and inability to service customers.

Head Chefs are a vital link for kitchen staff and employers.

Chef leaders are essential in connecting kitchen staff and management to ensure the kitchen’s success. They communicate the restaurant’s vision and management needs. Chef leaders play a role in mediating and resolving issues between the two.

The visible presence of a chef attracts customers.

Customers are increasingly drawn to restaurants where chefs are more visible and come out of the kitchen to meet and connect with the customers they cook for.

Restaurants are changing the way they work to, in turn, attract more customers by making their chefs more visible. More and more restaurants are set up so customers can watch the chef at work.

At the restaurant where our son did his externship, he often had to go to the front and meet and engage with customers, making small talk, explaining the food being served, and making recommendations should they ask, as well as later on, finding out how they enjoyed the meal.

This personal touch adds value to the meal experience; customers are more likely to return if it’s good.

Chefs are valuable in brand promotion and food media.

Chefs are essential in the food marketing business. Chefs who have reached celebrity status are often used as brand ambassadors, participating in various media campaigns to promote food products or a specific restaurant.

In addition to having an executive chef run the kitchen, some restaurants employ a celebrity chef to represent their brand and attract customers.

Chefs who become food photographers and stylists play a vital role in food media, promoting food products and brands. They are often sought after by advertising companies because of their culinary knowledge, skill, and understanding of working with food.

2. Chefs contribute to and boost the local community.

Within the local community where they work, chefs contribute to the local entertainment industry, influence their local food industry and boost their local economies.

Chefs contribute to the local entertainment industry.

Wherever you go, food is an integral part of the entertainment business. When a chef is there to prepare good-tasting and satisfying food, customers are likely to return for the type of entertainment provided and the food.

Chef entrepreneurs boost the local economy.

When chefs turn entrepreneurs by opening a restaurant or a catering service, they boost the local economy by employing local people and buying food supplies from local producers and suppliers or equipment from local businesses.

Chefs cater for business events in local communities.

Chefs are essential for catering for the food needs of businesses events like award evenings, conferences or training sessions.

Companies, for example, often choose conference centres associated with restaurants for holding conferences or training staff. Chefs in these restaurants provide a valuable service in attending to the dietary needs of conference attendees.

The restaurant where our son completed his externship was such a restaurant, located on the same premises as the conference centre. Whilst they serviced guests through reservations, they also catered for the food needs of the conference centre.

Chefs are critical to the success of events like weddings.

When chefs cater for special events, the food quality is integral to the event’s success. People long remember the food they had and its presentation. The food will be spoken of long after the event if it is good.

At weddings and birthdays, a beautiful and delicious wedding or birthday cake, besides its symbolic significance, marking the event, is an edible art form, forming part of the event décor and even used as a centrepiece, adding to the aesthetic value of the event.

The food chefs cook brings people together.

People gather around food, and chefs provide good food that enhances the experience. A group of people will often choose a restaurant based on reputation or experience as a place to meet up with others.

Chefs create good food that makes good memories.

Good food creates good memories. I fondly remember two weddings we attended, mainly because the food was so good, even though the setting wasn’t, and I contrast it to a wedding set in an exquisite location where the food was not so tasty.

Chefs support busy people with cooked meals.

Chefs provide a valuable service to busy families who can retain the services of a private chef who lives in the client’s home and attends to the nutritional and dining needs of the family because they often don’t have the time to cook for themselves.

Instead of a live-in chef, some families use chefs who come into their homes and prepare meals in advance for the week that can be frozen with instructions for warming or cooking.

Such chefs also shop for meal ingredients, taking further pressure off a busy family.

Chefs create private dining experiences.

Chefs are critical in the entertainment industry and provide unique dining experiences like the service of a private chef.

People are increasingly using chefs to provide an extraordinary dining experience in the privacy of their homes, often for the experience or a special celebration.

The critical benefit is that it alleviates pressure from the host as the chef shops, cooks and cleans, leaving the host free to participate in the event.

This novel experience also entertains guests, especially when they can watch the chef at work.

Chefs expose people to global cuisines.

Chefs can expose local people to new cultures and cuisines through the food they cook.

People are often looking for new experiences. With the variety of world cuisines that different chefs have mastered, people looking for new food experiences can expand their expertise and knowledge of other world cuisines and cultural diversity.

3. In society, chefs sway the food world and tackle issues.

As food influencers, chefs have brought the culinary career to the world stage and influenced all things food: setting trends and expanding boundaries in culinary art. They have also used their influence to address social issues like hunger and food sustainability.

Celebrity chefs elevated the chef career to prestigious.

Celebrity chefs have been vital in elevating the chef career from one looked down on by those who don’t know or understand the industry to one sought after. The chef’s skill and critical role in the kitchen have been highlighted. Hence perceptions of the food industry and a chef have changed, and the status of a chef has become prestigious.

The publicity on a culinary career has also helped to highlight problems in the field and allowed more and more chefs to speak up about mental health issues related to a culinary career and form support structures to address these.

Chefs set trends and adapt to changing societal needs.

With the world community growing healthier, chefs stay updated on food trends to create new meals catering to vegans and lactose intolerant clients so that everyone is provided for those who wish to enjoy an eating out experience for whatever reason, be it relaxation or celebrating an event. Different types of restaurants have emerged, like health restaurants and vegan restaurants.

Chefs are expanding the art and science of food.

Today chefs are breaking boundaries in both culinary and pastry art. In culinary art, this is often seen in food competitions when culinary artists can create new and tasty dishes with limited ingredients. 

Pastry artists are partnering with designers and creating increasingly complex baking and pastry creations that are art masterpieces.

Culinary and pastry artists are expanding the boundaries as they display their final product, be it in the artistic design of a cake or the art that goes into plating a dessert or food. As culinary and pastry artists experiment with their art, designs have become increasingly artistic and complex.

Chefs create novel food-eating experiences.

Another area where chefs have extended the boundaries of art, innovation, and entertainment is by providing novel food and dining experiences that cater to various tastes and preferences.

For example, the restaurant Ichiran Ramen in New York caters for anti-social food lovers who can enjoy a meal, on their own, in a private booth with little contact with their server to enjoy a meal in private without feeling self-conscious.

Chefs provide life skills in teaching others to cook.

A good meal adds to the quality of life, and when chefs teach ordinary people, from kids to adults, to cook more like chefs, they provide a life skill that enhances the quality of daily life as food is an integral part of our everyday life.

Cooking skills are no longer passed down from one generation to another as an essential life skill or taught at schools as much as before. Students leave home, and young couples marry without this life skill. People tend to buy takeaway food or pre-packed meals from stores to compensate. With rising costs, this can become less affordable for many, and home cooking becomes preferable.

Also, in some homes, the housekeeper or domestic worker has the added role of cooking for the family.  Then there are novice cooks who wish to better their cooking skills or families for whom daily mealtime is a special occasion, a gathering of the family to connect, spend time and share their experiences after a long day and to do so around a good meal.

Not only do chefs fill these gaps by imparting their cooking skills to create good quality food for individuals and families but by learning to cook, people gain so much more, like knife skills, making healthier food choices, improving confidence through learning a new skill, or finding additional outlets for creativity and relaxing and the joy of eating the food you prepared and sharing it with others.

Chefs are promoting sustainable food practices.

By aspiring to zero waste kitchens, re-purposing food, cooking the food they plant and promoting farm-to-table dining experiences, creating awareness of where food comes from in a world where everything is becoming increasingly commercialised, and there is a disconnect between the food we eat and its origin.

World-renowned chef Mossimo Bottura, for example, is a food activist calling for all chefs to be food activists in their kitchens by not wasting food and instead, aspiring to zero-waste kitchens and thinking creatively about how to re-use and re-purpose food, whether it’s a carrot or bread.

Chefs boost the food tourism industry.

Chefs in culinary tourism play an important role in promoting local cuisine, teaching tourists to get to know the country they are visiting through its food.

In addition, the excellent cooking of chefs is often what attracts foodies to visit a country or repeat their visit to a country.

With their insider knowledge of food, chefs in food tourism are vital in promoting the local food culture and history, the hospitality and tourism industry, and the economy.

Chefs, as food ambassadors of a country, boost relations.

People connect around food. When chefs cook the diversity of local cuisine available in their country, whether they are cooking in a local restaurant or working as chefs, in food tourism or representing their governments locally or abroad, they can share a nation’s culture, history, and its people, creating intergroup understanding and appreciation of diversity.

By cooking and sharing a nation’s food, chefs promote building relationships and lowering barriers amongst the diversity of groups in a nation and, similarly, foster relations with other countries.

Chefs joined in education to teach maths and science.

Education institutions like Harvard have partnered with chefs to assist them in teaching students the practical application of maths and science principles by creating engaging classes with chefs doing live cooking demonstrations during classes.

Harvard partners with chefs to teach maths and science.

Chefs address social issues like hunger and food wastage.

Both celebrity and non-celebrity chefs have used their influence and skills for the good of others. As such, they are involved in addressing various social issues, from food wastage to responding to hunger, providing education, to dealing with the plight of refugees. In doing so, chefs are making valuable contributions to society.

Examples of such interventions include:

Chefs are teaching kids about nutrition and healthy eating.

In this regard, British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has done much, going into schools and teaching kids about good nutrition and healthy lunch packs to prevent childhood obesity.

Chefs educating on the full farm-to-table food cycle.

Like many others, I’ve also heard kids say that peas or other vegetables come from the frozen vegetables section of the store.

Today there are many chef-initiated projects around the world where chefs partner, often with schools in their local community, to teach kids about the complete farm-to-table food cycle: kids learn where food comes from and how it is grown, harvested, and then cooked.

Many of these initiatives are hands-on, with kids learning to grow food and starting their food gardens at school or home, harvesting it, and learning how to cook the food they’ve grown.  

The further benefit of such projects is that children can access healthy and wholesome food. Projects like this have also extended to the broader community, mainly where food shortages exist.

Chefs doing training in cooking skills in at-risk groups.

Several examples of projects include the Cook It Up project in Canada, where chefs participated in an education programme teaching cooking skills to at-risk youth to provide invaluable life skills to vulnerable groups.

The well-known French chocolate manufacturer brand Valrhona is a project with renowned chefs teaching pastry skills in the Brooklyn community.

Besides helping to prevent vulnerable youth from turning to crime and violence, such projects also build confidence and purpose and open doors to careers in the food industry.

Chefs responding to hunger.

Several chefs have initiated projects that provide food for the homeless and impoverished communities.

One such is chef Mossimo Botturo, referred to earlier, an Italian restaurateur whose restaurant has won two Michelin stars and has twice been awarded the title of the best restaurant in the world.

His ultimate success, he regards as Refettoria Ambrosiano, where, together with his team of volunteer chefs, he uses food that would otherwise be discarded and repurposes it to cook and serve daily healthy, nutritious meals for the homeless, the unemployed and refugees.

Aspirant chefs often see celebrity chefs as role models, following what they do and learning from them. As such, the work done by such chefs is an example of what chefs can do to impact their local communities.

In response to communities left hungry, be it by poverty, violence and unrest, natural disasters or pandemics, as in the case of covid-19, local and international chef organisations have formed to respond to the need.

In South Africa, there are Chefs with Compassion who fed people during lockdown with food from hotels and restaurants that could not operate during the covid lockdown.

The World Association of Chefs tries to mobilise chefs worldwide to respond to hunger.

Chefs are essential in culinary-related careers.

As culinary careers include careers beyond the kitchen, like food journalism, chefs who pursue such diverse culinary-related careers because of their culinary knowledge, training and experience have an understanding of the fine details of what good food is and, as such, make a unique and valuable contribution in such careers.

The food critic with a chef background can more accurately assess the quality of food, its taste, texture, aroma and presentation.

A culinary nutritionist, trained as a chef and in nutrition, can create unique meal creations for the athlete that meet their nutritional needs but are still tasty as an aid to enhance performance.

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