James Corwell

Master Chef James Corwell

Master Chef James Corwell

Areas of Expertise: Concept and Brand Development, Systems Building, Training and Education, Classical and World Cuisines
Years in Industry: 30+
Credentials: Certified Master Chef (CMC), Certified Culinary Educator (CCE)
Professional Associations: American Culinary Federation
Personal Motto: “I can teach anyone to cook.”
Culinary Philosophy: Food is precious and should be treated as such.

What prompted you to become a Chef? 

There were several reasons but what attracted me the most was my ability to do it. In other words, I liked holding a knife, working with hot items, eating good food, making sauces and I always believed that cooking was an art form.

Did you have a Chef Mentor? If so, who was your Chef Mentor and what did they teach you? 

Mark Erickson, CMC, was my Chef Mentor. He defined the playground for me and taught me the structure in which to cook.

What is the best part of being a Chef? 

The latitude of thought and effort it takes to produce a dish I love.

What is the hardest part of being a Chef? 

Any un-appreciation of the efforts toward food excellence.  

In your opinion, how are culinary reality shows different from the real culinary industry? 

Most TV shows depict but a partial glimpse into the cooking process. Knowledge and technique take a lifetime to develop. Learning how food works and what combinations work best to make something wonderful (without looking trite or cartoon-ish) are what makes the real chefs stand out verses the personalities. That said, there is a depth and knowledge and even tact to making food that only truly thoughtful masters attain. The process of creating within a defined approach is not an easy one.

If you traveled back to the beginning of your culinary career, what advice would you give yourself?

Learn more pastry.

What advice would you give someone striving to become a Chef today? 

This industry can support many different personality types. Likewise, one should be exposed to the different faces of a chef and find the one that best fits their personality and run with it.

“One should be exposed to the different faces of a chef and find the one that best fits their personality and run with it.”

What should someone think about before beginning culinary school? 

Mediocre work will keep you as a cook.

Many future chefs dream of opening a restaurant, what advice would you give them? 

Use someone else’s money!

What are some of the most important skills someone must possess when entering the industry today? 

Desire to learn and to work for it.

In your opinion, what is the most successful culinary path and how can this be achieved? 

I don’t know that there is one clear cut path. I am a fan of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), if for anything else it can open a lot of doors for motivated people. Although it’s expensive. Having the guts to put yourself in challenging, learning situations will always make you a better cook. Go work in good restaurants. 

“Having the guts to put yourself in challenging, learning situations will always make you a better cook.”

Our audience has a strong desire to make a career in the culinary industry, as such, do you have any final thoughts for them?

Make sure that you make time for life as much as possible outside of this business. This industry requires a lot of work and hours, but to be successful in any business you are going to work a lot. Always learn, strive and reach to keep growing. And never settle for less then what you belief yourself to be.  

“Never settle for less then what you belief yourself to be.”