Each student at The Chef’s Academy receives a chef’s knife. This knife will probably become the most important and essential tool used throughout the student’s academic career. This is also true for a Chef! Chefs spend a lot of time with their knives – cutting, dicing, fileting, chopping, chiffonading, juilenning, slicing, mincing, and threatening their staff. I didn’t say that, did I?!? Anyway, between its many uses and occasional sharpening, the knife may need to be honed. To “hone,” according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means to make more acute, intense, or effective. You see, a knife’s cutting edge becomes reshaped over time from sharpening. Tiny amounts of the blade are being ground away as explained by Chef Danilo Alfaro.
As I sat in my culinary class a few Saturday’s ago, I began to think about the last time I was “honed.” Like my chef’s knife, tiny amounts of my very being, intelligence if you will, has been chipped away by sharpening others. When you give of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally sometimes you lose YOUR sharpness, intensity, and/or effectiveness. Many times adults characterize this as “burn-out.” It happens to even the best of us!
As Chef Brandon Hamilton, an instructor at The Chef’s Academy, demonstrated how to hone our knives in class that day, I admit my mind wandered. As the distinct sound of the knife moving over the knife steel resonated, I continued to think about the many training classes I had led in my life and the classes that I am currently teaching. Then I said “what about me? What about my industry colleagues, fellow instructors, and college graduates now in the workforce?” I wondered if any of us had been honed lately or believed in honing on a regular basis. If you think about it, how can you continue to sharpen others when you, yourself have lost some of your sharpness?
Honing for you and I can happen in a variety of ways:
- Read a book that inspires you and strengthens your passion for what you do!
- Take a class or go back to school!
- Join a club or networking organization!
- Hear a powerful guest speaker!
- Go on a field trip and take a tour of some place that ignites a spark of enthusiasm!
- Watch an inspiring movie!
- Conduct your own research on the internet!
- Try cooking a new dish, clean a guestroom, or reconnect with whatever drew you to your profession in the first place!
The key is to learn and enhance or refresh your skill set! Do this on a regular basis. If you’re a Chef, join the ACF. If you’re a recent graduate, start building your library of industry magazines or books. If you are in a role designed to sharpen (teach, train, share your knowledge and who you are) others, then this one’s for you – “Honing on a regular basis, keeps the burn-out away!”
I am enjoying my Saturday culinary classes. Convert a recipe – I am being honed. Small dice zucchini – I am being honed. Grill eggplant – I am being honed. Sauté potatoes – I am being honed. Then, eat the potatoes. Sorry, not sure how that got in there. Although, I am tired at the end of the week, I feel my acuteness, intensity, and effectiveness growing. You can too.
Jokima Hiller, MBA, Hospitality & Restaurant
Management Program Coordinator
Faculty Advisor, Travel & Tour Club
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7 years ago