Follow Your Passion

Chef InterviewSherif Afifi has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting & Business Administration and studied at the Culinary Training Centres of Egypt. Though a Procurement Supervisor by profession he is now a popular TV Chef. Will he change career or keep his double profile in the two professions?

Given your Bachelor’s degree in Accounting & Business Administration why did you decide to study at the Culinary Training Centres of Egypt (CTCE)?

I was always fascinated by cooking as my grandfather was an Egyptian chef in the royal palace before the 1952 revolution. That explains my passion for cooking; it runs in my veins. In 2013 I felt I had to supplement my passion with academic study which is why I joined CTCE.

At present you are the Procurement Supervisor at Cementos La Union. Are there any similarities between being a Procurement Supervisor and being a Chef and if so what are they?

Yes there are! Being a procurement professional makes you an expert in cost break-down analysis. It gives you a broad based business model because you need to control spending so as to maximize profitability. An additional bonus is that the experience of working for multinational companies like Vodafone & General Motors gives one an understanding of business that is essential for a chef.

You won the Korean Food Contest at the CTCE and were placed 6th at an International contest in Seoul, Korea. Can you tell us how you prepared for the culinary competition and what made you so successful in both contests?

Actually I was competing with professional chefs experienced in Asian cuisine while I was just an under graduated chef with little experience. Fortunately I reached this achievement because I studied Korean culture and relied on my talent and the knowledge I learned in CTCE.

In 2015 you started a TV cooking show. What do you think makes your TV show such a success? What do you think are the key elements for becoming a popular TV Chef?

I think people like my cooking show featured in the Sharea Sherif program because they see value and content presented in a simplified way.
The key element for being a popular TV Chef is to know your audience. Every chef has his own profile that appeals to the taste of a specific segment of the audience.
Other essentials are to understand the needs of your audience. It is necessary to avoid giving complicated terminology and to provide good explanation so that the audience follows what you are saying.

What do you think is the difference between a TV Chef and a Commercial kitchen Chef?

Each one of them needs a different set of skills as each has a different target. Being a successful commercial kitchen chef does not mean that you will perform well on TV as before a camera you need good presentation and public speaking skills. You also need to demonstrate techniques and knowledge that must be delivered to the audience in a way that matches their technical skill level.
For a commercial kitchen chef to be successful there is a need for practical experience that involves the ability to work under pressure so as to deliver a quality product on time regardless of the volume of orders.

Do you think that all popular TV Chefs are really good Chefs?

Definitely no. Being a good chef requires applying authentic cooking methods for each ingredient and following the food hygiene standards. Many popular TV Chefs do not stick to those rules. It is our responsibility as chefs to build good cadres who are technically aware and have what it needs to be good TV Chefs.

Being a Chef provides many career opportunities in different sectors. What are your aspirations for the future? Do you plan to change your career completely?

I believe that at some point in time I will make a complete shift. I am working on a concept that involves artists from different fields cooperating to deliver a full 5 senses experience: musicians performing while chefs are inspired by the music to cook an unplanned dish while painters are working inspired by the rhythm and the smell of cooking.

Do you have any advice for Young Chefs or graduates of the CTCE who are just starting their career?

Yes.

  • Follow your passion.
  • Don’t make anything let you down.
  • Being a CTCE graduate is a very good start but it doesn’t mean that you have reached the maximum knowledge. You have to keep learning, studying and working to develop your skills.
  • It’s all about you. Don’t wait for anyone to provide help. You are the one who will do it.
  • Listen to your elders.
  • Mind your own business and don’t criticize others. Be a role model.
  • Time is the most valuable resource in our life so don’t waste it.
  • Be a good ambassador of your profession to the world.
  • Be proud of your origins.
  • Be open minded to new ideas.
  • Don’t be ashamed to ask if you don’t know something; no one knows everything.
  • Say you don’t know if asked about something beyond you as it is better than giving wrong information.

Thank you for this interesting interview and we wish you all the best in your future career.
 

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