Cooking has become a routine. Yes, you still love doing it for a living and think it is the best job there is. However, you have indeed settled into a nice routine — from studying recipes to ordering ingredients from your trusted food suppliers to the actual cooking, and back again.
You’re in a rut.
Chefs and cooks are among the most hardworking groups of people, and they take pride for that and for their culinary skills.
But as the old adage goes, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And this makes the case for the argument that people in the food industry, especially chefs, should allot make time for travel.
How traveling can benefit chefs
Apart from helping to revitalize your mind and body, traveling offers a few distinct benefits for chefs and their staff.
● Builds stronger teams
Traveling as a group of like-minded individuals in search of the new, chefs and their staff can create unique experiences which in turn unites them as a cohesive unit behind the kitchen.
● Enhances appreciation of different backgrounds
This is particularly valuable for teams with individual members coming from different cultural backgrounds. Experiencing different cultures and cuisines imbues teams with a deeper understanding of each team member.
● Sparks inspiration
Whether you are planning to overhaul your menu or simply make a few tweaks here and there, sampling different cuisines prepared by locals can inspire you to take a different approach inside the kitchen.
Bringing food to the center table
After deciding to carve off some time for travel, the key question to ask is: How do you travel with food as your main goal?
Here a few helpful tips to consider.
● Eat up
While this may seem like a no-brainer, there are a few things that you can do to make your culinary adventure more rewarding.
First, plan your itinerary around food. This will make it easier to sample as much new food as you would like.
Next, seek out new places. Prior to your actual travel, you may have made up a list of restaurants you would want to visit. Expand your list and venture out further to the road less traveled.
Check out local grocery stores and markets. As you replenish your supplies, you can use this as an opportunity to check out local fare or even the unique food equipment people in that location use. You can also bring a few home.
● Enlist the locals for help
The Internet is a good source of inspiration, especially when it comes to the best food haunts. But do not forget the best source of tips – the people who live there.
Before traveling, ask your colleagues about tips and local joints that are worthwhile visiting. Some of these may even not be on online lists.
Once you get there, connect with the locals – your fellow customers or merchants from the local market.
● Embrace the fact that you’re a tourist
Don’t be embarrassed about the idea of doing tourist-y things. You’ll only be holding yourself back from new experiences. And what’s the worst thing that could happen?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Learn the local customs. Practice speaking local phrases.
● Make it all about the experience
If you want to genuinely create memories that you can bring home or set down on the table, if you’re going to experience new flavors, consider ditching your travel to-do list altogether.
Sure, there may be plenty of Michelin-star restaurants in the place you are headed to. But you might want to postpone those for another time and seek out secret haunts.
Carving time off for travel
How many holiday leaves have you used in the past year? The last five years? Most chefs can go for years without taking days off, accumulating unused leave credits.
Taking time off from your job can be immensely tricky, especially when you have a team relying on you. But seeking out new experiences and new flavors is beneficial for cooks and chefs, especially the young ones who are seeking to make a mark in the industry. Embrace the grind, but also make time to nurture your taste buds. Your team, and your customers, will thank you for it.
Jad Asaad is the Marketing Manager at Bidfood UAE with more than eight years of experience in digital, online and offline marketing. He started his career in Beirut working in a creative agency and then moved to Dubai to further expand his career. He created and implemented award-winning high-impact digital and offline marketing campaigns that consistently generated revenue streams and improved performance in targeted segments.