April 11, 2015

4 great ways to meet people in the culinary industry

It can be hard to meet people when taking online courses. That's why it's helpful to get involved your local culinary community.

It can be hard to meet people when taking online courses. That’s why it’s helpful to get involved your local culinary community.

You’ve dreamt of becoming a chef for ages. You have started Austin culinary arts school and are spending your days chopping, sauteing and baking new dishes, but you’re not sure how to go about meeting other chefs in real life. While it’s important to interact with your classmates online, it’s also really helpful and fun to associate with other people in the culinary industry. Try these four ways to meet and befriend those people:

1. Go out to eat
Yes, you’re going to chef school, so you have a few tricks up your sleeve and can make a pretty great meal at any time of day. That doesn’t mean you should never go out to eat again. In fact, heading to restaurants should be considered a part of your schooling. When you go to eating establishments it’s an opportunity to study how other chefs do things. You can taste their fares, learning about interesting ingredients that may not have occurred to you to combine. It’s also a valuable opportunity to interact with the people behind the scenes. While it’s not always possible to speak with the chef when you are at a restaurant, you can leave your information with a host or server and ask if it would be possible for the chef to contact you at a later date. You may gain insight into the industry through emails with the them, or if you can even try to meet in person. They likely have plenty of experience and might be willing to share.

2. Enter competitions
Most communities host some kind of culinary competition. Whether it’s a small-town chili cook-off or a chance to be on national TV, these competitions are a great chance to make a name for yourself and meet other cooks. If you can’t find a challenge like this in your area, consider starting one. You can put up flyers in local schools, churches and meeting places, and even make an add in the paper. Start a social media page and be sure to share it with any local cooking classes or restaurants. They may have attendees or diners that would be interested in competing or getting involved. A local dining establishment may even be willing to sponsor the event and provide a kitchen to use for the competition as well as ingredients for each chef.

3. Use social media
Many people admire individuals who are deemed “celebrities.” Because these people, such as TV personalities, are so well-known, we often assume they are unreachable and we wouldn’t even consider trying to get in touch with them. Don’t let fame scare you off. Some of these celebrity chefs are very friendly and open to interacting with fans. Try not to hesitate to contact some of these individuals over social media. You can always tweet a quick question or Instagram a picture of something you made that was inspired by a famous chef. Tag them and they just might see your post and reply.

4. Make your own recipes
There are thousands of websites that allow users to submit their own recipes and comment on others. With your Austin culinary arts program knowledge, you are at a great advantage over most home cooks: You have been professionally trained. Use those skills to come up with your own menu ideas and share your latest and greatest cooking creations with the community. Other users will try your dishes and comment on them, allowing you to tweak the recipes and meet new people. You can also make other people’s recipes and leave comments with thoughts on how to make it better or how the process went. Just like through social media, you can garner a following here. Your audience may even become real-life diners if you choose to open a restaurant.