The Dreams & Aspirations of Young Chefs

mostafa-gomaaWhere have the graduates of the Culinary Training Centres of Egypt ended up? Are they working for restaurants or hotels? Is the work of chef up to their expectations and to what do they aspire? We interviewed Chef Moustafa Gomaa, Head Chef at White Owl Restaurant, to find answers to these questions.

What made you choose the profession of chef?

I chose this particular field accidentally during my study at university because I found that it was a field of creativity and has no limits. It is a field that involves continous innovation. This explains my decision to become a chef and to start learning the culinary culture.

Does the work meet your expectations?

Working in the kitchen meets most of our expectations but sometimes things exceed expectations and that is the real challenge. In order to accomplish what we wish we need to experience and work through different challenges.

What is the most important lesson you have learned so far that has made you a better chef?

The one lesson I learned is that you have to work hard in the kitchen and need to be dedicated. This realization has had an enormous impact on me and many of my colleagues.

What do you think are the main differences between a hotel chef and a restaurant chef? What is your own personal preference and why?

The chef in the hotel has a specific task within a particular department. Also a chef has specific working hours and the opportunity to learn and enlarge experience and knowledge.

The chef in the restaurant is responsible for the whole kitchen which is the heart of the business. The chef also has a greater self-affirmation challenge – better than in a hotel. The personality also plays an important role especially when it comes to dealing with the team and handling the problems that occur in a work place. A restaurant chef can build his/her reputation in a culinary field faster than in a hotel whatever its standard. Personally I prefer to work in restaurants because I have more responsibility and can be more creative.

What has been the greatest highlight in your career so far?

My greatest sense of achievement has come from educating others using my experience and culinary knowledge.

What are some of the main challenges you have faced in your career or at work?

The biggest challenge has been the lack of qualifications in other members of the profession.
There has also been a lack of necessary equipment and tools that help us to innovate.
In addition there is a lack of awareness of the culinary culture in our community. People do not appreciate the importance that the kitchen can make to progress.
There has been a lack of awareness regarding the proper use of the media in helping us to gain new knowledge.
There is also a lack of opportunities for many who are interested in the culinary field to gain a professional education.

What are your hopes regarding your future career? What is your dream?

I hope to be one of the chefs who have contributed to the progress of the culinary profession in our country and has been able to put Egyptian cuisine on the world culinary map.

My dream also is to change society’s perspective on the chef; he is not just a cook but one of the foundation stones of the economy in the country. A chef should consider cooking as a science like any other science.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get it from the science of cooking and by keeping myself updated with what is new in my profession.

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