Teppanyaki Chefs – Have You Got What It Takes?
Teppanyaki chefs are to a restaurant like clowns are to a circus. We all know that we will see the lions and tigers at the circus but it just wouldn’t be the circus without the clowns and jugglers. Teppanyaki restaurants just wouldn’t be a teppanyaki restaurant without the antics of the chef. They throw knives, perform tricks, make jokes and juggle salt and pepper shakers, all to impress and entertain the diners and create a visual and culinary spectacular display.
Teppanyaki chefs have an added responsibility that regular chefs don’t and that is making sure the diners are entertained. That means you must have personality to keep conversation going and encourage participation by the diners. Not only that but the chef must have some juggling skills and be lightening fast with their chopping, slicing and cooking in general. Teppanyaki cooking is very fast.
Some teppanyaki chefs start off as kitchen hands and progress through the ranks by being offered an apprenticeship. Many western chefs make the switch to teppanyaki for the challenge. Not all teppanyaki chefs start in a japanese restaurant but if your passion is teppanyaki then trying to learn from the japanese would be ideal.
Teppanyaki chefs have the opportunity to get out of the kitchen and mingle with the guests. I’ve heard them say that it doesn’t seem like work at all, it’s more like having friends around for a dinner party. It is important not to be shy and have a bit of character as each guest needs to feel special and included in the performance. You get to entertain the rich and the famous, international, interstate and local guests and everyday people so you need to know what each person expects because the night is about them.
Good teppanyaki chefs will have a variety of tricks, many which are self taught. It might look easy but many hours go into practising each move, chefs can’t afford to get it wrong too many times in front of their audience, the diners. An entertaining and experienced teppanyaki chef will get head-hunted by five-star hotels that rely upon the skills of their chefs.
Teppanyaki is now one of the most popular dining experiences you can have but it really is only as good as the chef. Teppanyaki chefs’ have to continually go beyond just cooking and be creative at every turn. One of the most fascinating tricks is the onion ring volcano which actually gets lit and erupts like a real volcano. There are many different tricks such as utensils being lit in front of people and food being sliced in mid air and quickly and expertly flicked into diners bowls.
If the thought of becoming a chef appeals to you but thinking about the long hours tucked away in the kitchen seems boring then becoming a teppanyaki chef might just suit. Every year there are teppanyaki challenges and championships where the chefs get to display their skills and compete against the best teppanyaki chefs. If you love cooking and like to entertain then you might just have what it takes. Above all you must be a people person because you are out front in full view of the diners and it’s your job to not only feed them with really good tasting food but to make sure they have the time of their lives.