No easy road, but this chef is making his way to the top
THE Good Food and Wine show held last week is likely to have inspired many young aspirant chefs.
Those who’ve made the transition from amateur foodie to pro say the road to success in a restaurant kitchen can be described as a highway to hell, but the completion of the journey can be as sweet as a Gordon Ramsay Panna Cotta.
For Timothy Edwards, senior chef de partie at The Stack in Cape Town, that road has been anything but smooth.
“I was extremely naughty at high school. I was never going to make it and, after failing Grade 10, my father had the big ‘sit down’ with me. He asked if I wanted to continue with school or go find a career in hospitality? I chose my passion.”
Bonteheuwel born and bred, Edwards applied to Protea College and studied further at TBISA, a private professional culinary school in Observatory. It was during this time that he swung his first job in the Southern Sun Hotel kitchen. There he helped prepare food for the senior chefs. After two years his big break came as junior chef de partie (CDP) at the Commodore Hotel. He stayed for three years before moving to Stack, where he has been the senior CDP for the past eight months.
He is responsible for the kitchen when the head chef or sous chef are not around.
“If you want to become a chef you have to have 100% commitment and dedication. There will be times when you don’t get to see your own family or have a social life. At the end of the day, though, when you reach that level in hospitality you will reap (the reward) from all your sacrifices.”
The conventional route into a fine dining kitchen is to attend a culinary school such as the Senses of Taste Chef School. At these schools, you are taught the basic skills to operate in a professional kitchen and to deliver work that is of an acceptable standard to employees and executive chefs. As Edwards proved, all hope is not lost if you did not complete high school.
There are more downs than ups in the culinary world, you have to be willing to work extremely long hours, deal with the heat in the kitchen, keep up with orders and make sure food is served on time. There will also be times when you do not see your family or loved ones.
The ups are rewarding and unique, such as being able to be a part of art, sampling different cuisines and cultures from around the world.
Edwards cites British celebrity chefs Ramsay, Jamie Oliver and local stars Reuben Riffel and Reza and Jenny Morris as his inspiration in the kitchen. His speciality dish is foie gras.
Edwards received some advice from world famous British celebrity chef Marco Pierre White at last week’s Good Food and Wine show.
“Don’t let your ego get to you, just do it for the love of cooking and food,” White told Edwards.