Culinary Consulting

Posted on: September 15, 2009 by The Stove Monkey in Food

Ah culinary consulting…not something you may have heard about before, and sounds a little like a financial analyst and a line cook had a love child. But in all reality, culinary consulting is actually a thriving field that’s full of many opportunities for the food professional. And…it’s also what I do for a living.

When I first “found” cooking it was in making daily meals for my two little brothers. They were always asking me to create new things, being the little brothers they were, and, being the awesome big brother I was, I would try and appease them (plus I was finding I had a real knack for and interest in cooking). Sometimes I’d even build a “food castle” out of whatever it was I was cooking—which they absolutely loved. I found that I really enjoyed making my brothers happy, and being able to bond with them over the seemingly simplistic experience of creating a meal. From this I came to value a greater ability in being able to make other people happy just by cooking for them. It seemed so easy.

Later on, after working as a chef and discovering a need to “expand my horizons” beyond the mundane and predictable routine of working under a restaurant owner every day, I started searching for what a better fit might be in the culinary world. My mentor Morgen Jacobson had been doing culinary consulting for the past couple years and it seemed like an attractive alternative to other opportunities I’d been exploring. I enjoy problem solving and the process of molding my surroundings to perfection…both of which are key attributes for anyone in this line of work.

Having been in the thick of culinary consulting now for 1 year, I still get excited at the thought of being part of the evolution of a restaurant—to see it at its roots and help give it that rhythm and pizzaz. It also affords me the ability to travel a lot, which can be great and works from the perspective of my bachelor lifestyle. Consulting also enables me the time and flexibility to work on my dream that is Stove Monkeys, so I certainly can’t complain.

But I don’t mean to make it sound like its all rainbows and butterflies. As a culinary consultant, your job is to consult––not to call all the shots––and for anyone who is passionate about what they do this can be difficult. I have learned that, consultant or not, sometimes it is necessary to bite my tongue in situations where I would otherwise speak up. Some owners are front-of-house experts, but don’t necessarily have what it takes in the kitchen (nor, at times, understand what it’s really like in the back of the house), and that’s why I get brought in. But being the hired kitchen expert doesn’t mean getting full control over how it’s necessarily going to be run, especially considering that restaurant owners have their own dreams and visions, and will want to make decisions based on them. As such, learning the finesse of when to jump in and when to step back becomes as essential a skill for a culinary consultant as knowing your way around a kitchen. Because, let’s face it my friends, without the ability to build constructive relationships with your clients, you are shit out of luck.

So, for all those out there still searching for their “right fit” in the big bad culinary industry, if you like problem solving, learning to improvise, working long hours, controlling your temper, handling other people’s tempers, crisis management, lots of travel, and delivering wicked rewarding results, then this could be right for you.

And yeah, maybe you won’t enjoy all of these things, but if you can get genuinely excited about waking up to a challenge every day, then culinary consulting could be just what the doctor ordered.

UNITE STOVE MONKEYS

Mytro & Lynch

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