Mentors can often act as the fine line between experience and success within your chosen field. Through the acts of giving advice, giving suggestions for growth, or merely acting as a surface from which to bounce your ideas from, mentors not only support amateur professionals but can also widen your network, essentially opening you up to new experiences and opportunities.
But how can you find yourself a chef mentor? Even in the age of the Internet and the growth of interest in mentors for all professions, finding a chef mentor can be tricky. There are far fewer directories listing interested parties as in other industries and so often it is the case for that a young chef must take a more direct approach in finding their own chef mentor.
What to Look For in a Mentor
A mentor should be someone who you not only admire, but who leads a professional life that you aspire to achieve within the next five to ten years. If you choose to approach someone at a similar career stage to yourself then it is likely that they will have little to offer in forwarding your own career.
Take a Direct Approach
Chances are, if you’re a chef you’re already a fan of a few restaurants and their head chefs within your local area. Perhaps you’ve already worked for someone you admire or there was a professor at your culinary school you particularly respected. Take a chance and approach them directly, being honest with your intentions to find a mentor who has the time to discuss your opportunities and career choices.
If you haven’t yet met your potential mentor in person contact them by email, mentioning what exactly drew you to them and how you believe they could help you. Great advice can be found online on how to craft the perfect email to your potential mentor.
Use Social Networking
Whether it be a professional platform such as LinkedIn or Chefs Roll, or you choose to go through channels such asTwitter or Facebook, social networking is a powerful networking tool and one that could eventually land you the mentor of your dreams. The process of finding a chef mentor through social networking can be longer than the direct approach mentioned above as before asking for mentorship it is likely you will need to build up a rapport with a person. Asking questions on articles they post on LinkedIn, or retweeting their posts can incite discussion and eventually lead to a base rapport that you can build on later.
Use your Educational Network
Chefs who attend culinary school often find themselves naturally growing close and growing to respect certain lecturers or professors. These are men and women who are not only experienced in the kitchen but experienced in business and in coaching those just starting out, meaning that there is scope to develop a great mentor relationship during this time. Remember though, your own teachers will be able to assess your work ethic for themselves and will only want to mentor those that they see giving 100% to their craft.
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