Areas of Expertise: Baking & Pastry Artistry Years in Industry: 15 Years Credentials: Multiple Magazine Publications, Television Appearances & Winning Competitor Professional Associations: American Culinary Federation, Institute of Culinary Education, Star Chef Personal Motto: “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” Social Media: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/deden-putra/1b/904/226
What is your current role?
Executive Pastry Chef at The Peninsula New York.
How would you describe a typical day in your current role?
First, I greet my team as soon as I arrive – it’s important. Then I’ll walk through all the outlets before attending an operations meeting at 9am. Afterwards, I conduct a 15 minute morning briefing with my team in the kitchen. From there, I check emails and create an action item list, then it’s off for a quick briefing with my sous chef to review action items and ordering. Throughout the day I’ll check events, supervise my team, and work through special projects such as providing amenities, sampling new menu items and desserts, train my team with new dishes, or ensure VIP events are properly staged.
What prompted you to become a Chef?
It was my mother who prompted me to become a chef. She introduced me to culinary when I was a kid and she is a great cook. I spent much time in the kitchen helping her prepare our family dinners. As I grew up, I didn’t know it would become my life.
Did you have a Chef Mentor? If so, who was your Chef Mentor and what did they teach you?
My first Pastry Chef was Felix Scmid was my Chef Mentor. Felix is very talented and the hardest working chef I know. He taught me how to become a good pastry chef and instilled in me a constant willingness to learn new things and not to be afraid of trying new ideas.
What is the best part of being a Chef?
The best part of being a chef is when you see the end product and when people say “wow!” It makes you feel good about yourself to see someone enjoy your food. I would tell future chefs to feel free to be creative and explore new things and always inspire others.
What is the hardest part of being a Chef?
No set schedule. Long work hours. No social life. But again, we have to realize, this is what we chose, so everything comes with a price.
In your opinion, how are culinary reality shows different from the real culinary industry?
They are ABSOLUTELY different! There’s nothing you can truly learn from reality shows, it’s all about drama.
If you traveled back to the beginning of your culinary career, what advice would you give yourself?
Nothing. I would do it all over again (exactly the same). It was a long road to get to where I am today but I enjoyed every step. There are good and bad memories.
What advice would you give someone striving to become a Chef today?
You can not be a good chef overnight. Everyone has talent but not everyone has skill. Skill is something that you have to learn every day, and it sometimes takes years. You have to believe in yourself and believer this is what you want to do for the rest of your life. Work hard, work long hours and never give up. And most importantly, you must have a positive attitude.
“You can not be a good chef overnight.”
What should someone think about before beginning culinary school?
As I mentioned above, make sure becoming a chef is what you want for your life/career. Do not go to culinary school because it’s a trend and easy to find a job. Because everybody can bake or cook, but not everyone can bake or cook the right way.
“Do not go to culinary school because it’s a trend.”
Many future Chefs dream of opening a restaurant, what advice would you give them?
A lot of people think it’s easy to open a restaurant, but it’s not that simple. Build your reputation first, learn as much as you can about business plans, be fully creative, and have a good financial standing until you are ready to have your own restaurant. You must realize owning a restaurant means you have to work 24/7.
What are some of the most important skills someone must possess when entering the industry today?
Get all the basics so you can survive and excel in the real world. And they must have a great positive attitude.
What tools and/or resources (website, groups, culinary/kitchen tools, etc.) do you rely on the most and why?
I use every source I can find, websites, seminars, magazines, groups, etc. You must always keep your eyes open, follow the trend, and see what’s going on in the business.
In your opinion, what is the most successful culinary path and how can this be achieved?
Always strive to work for the best – best restaurant, best hotel, and best chef. Set up goals for yourself with a timeline. Improve your skill by going to classes, seminars, and read about the competition. Expand your network and leave any company on good terms. Keep a positive attitude at all times.
“Always strive to work for the best – best restaurant, best hotel, and best chef.”
Our audience has a strong desire to make a career in the culinary industry, as such, do you have any final thoughts for them?
Be true to yourself, and be sure this is what you want. Be willing to work hard and long hours. Have patience and passion. Learn every day and never give up.