A common concern among people who wish to become chefs is the question of whether or not they have to try all the food types that they cook. People often ask how you can cook certain dishes if you hate the taste of it?
So if you are a picky eater and you would like a career in catering what options are available to you?
Read on for our complete breakdown of how much food a chef is expected to taste and some ways around trying foods you dislike.
The good news is that picky eaters can become chefs. Most chefs have a dislike for certain food types and they manage just fine. If you are an extremely fussy eater and hate the taste of the majority of foods it may be difficult, but you certainly don’t need to love every type of cuisine. Being a picky eater should not be a reason for you not follow your passion
Why Do Chefs Taste The Food They Cook?
The main reason is to check that what you have prepared tastes delicious so the customer will enjoy it!
Creating great dishes is really no different to creating any other product which you sell to the public. Any product created should be checked for quality issues to ensure the customer will be happy when they receive it.
Food is no different. The customer is paying money (sometimes a very significant amount of money) for the product they are receiving. If it tastes bad then one of two things will happen;
- They will return the dish to the kitchen where the Head Chef will try it. If they agree that it tastes wrong they will ask you to cook another one, usually with at least an upset look on their face!
- The second, and far more damaging option, is the customer will eat the meal as they don’t want to cause a fuss. However, over the next few weeks they will have several conversations with friends, family, co-workers etc. where the subject of your restaurant will come up and they will explain the food is sub par. This reputation damage is hugely damaging to a restaurant and should be avoided at all costs!
In a kitchen I worked in, we had a sign on the wall that read;
Consistency is the art of perfection
The standard should be the same every night for every customer. The only way to ensure this is to taste the food before it leaves the kitchen. This prevents poor quality food from ever reaching the customer in the first place.
So this looks bad for picky eaters but do not fear.
Do Chefs Have To Taste All The Food They Cook?
The correct and stock answer to this would be that yes, as a chef you should be trying all the food that you create.
In large kitchens they have sections. There is no reason why a chef on the veg section is obliged to try the fish for example. As long as they are trying the food they create there is no problem.
This idea of not trying food may limit your career potential somewhat though.
At this point I need to point out that tasting food is different from eating food.
Chefs only try a small amount of the food they cook. If a chef makes a risotto for example they will have to taste it, as it’s the only way of determining if the seasoning is correct. This can be as little as a teaspoon full. If you really dislike risotto, then dip your spoon in and taste the sauce that collects on the back of the spoon; no need to actually eat the rice.
The other option which many chefs would not admit to in public is that if they really dislike some food type they will simply not try it and use their skill and experience to know it will be ok.
This is ok for some instances. I have known many chefs with a dislike for fish or certain vegetables. My own nemesis was, and still is Dill. I can’t stand the stuff!
Do Chefs Enjoy All The Food They Cook?
This is one of the common traits I have seen many times and the reason I would advise picky eaters to still follow their passion.
As a Chef tasting food becomes part of the job. You are able to try something with a more critical mind-set. Even if I disliked a food type (Dill!) I was still able to taste it when cooking, as you learn to separate your dislike, from the idea of enjoying the food.
When chefs taste food they are determining if it tastes correct and will be pleasing to the customer. Whether it is something that the chef enjoys eating or would order for themselves in a restaurant is irrelevant.
It never ceased to amaze me how many new young chefs would start out refusing to try certain foods, then a few years in they are trying everything. Your taste buds have a habit of adapting.
Can You Be A Chef With Food Allergies?
As well as picky eaters I would like to briefly touch on food allergies.
If you are considering a chef career but you have certain food allergies I would again say this shouldn’t cause you a problem. The Head Chef will be very understanding in nearly all cases, and if they’re not I would suggest you are working for an unprofessional Chef and should find a better kitchen ASAP!
I worked with a chef who was a celiac and he never let this hold him back.
The only caveat I would add here is that if you have a severe allergy, say to nuts for example, this may be more of an issue. If this is you then my advice would be to speak to the head chef of the kitchen you would like to work in and ask if they can accommodate you. Despite some perceptions most Head Chefs are very warm and welcoming to anyone wishing to join the trade.
To Sum Up
If you are hoping to become a chef but are worried about not enjoying all the food you will have to cook then fear not. The vast majority of Chefs learn to enjoy tasting a wide range of food as their career progresses. I guess simply put, their taste buds change and adapt.
Most Chefs have a dislike to certain food types and they manage just fine.
I hope this article has been a help. We have lots more on our website so please take some time to look around and immerse yourself in the world of professional chefs
As a fully qualified chef with 10 years of experience my mission is to provide an impartial insight into the world of professional catering!