Life As A Chef: Is The Career Pressure The Same As What You See In Hell’s Kitchen?

Imagine juggling searing pans, orders flying in, and the clock seems to be ticking a lot faster, all while maintaining laser focus and a cool head — that’s the hectic grind for a chef. But is the pressure in a kitchen much like the intense atmosphere depicted in Hell’s Kitchen?

While the show dramatises and amplifies for entertainment, the culinary world is essentially fast-paced and demanding. Chefs face tight deadlines, intricate dishes, and the constant pursuit of perfection. The chaos portrayed on television mirrors the challenges chefs encounter daily — the need for split-second decisions, flawless execution, and the ability to navigate a high-stakes environment. So, while the TV reality show may exaggerate, the heart-pounding pressure in a professional kitchen is a genuine aspect of the culinary reality. Yes, it’s real. And it’s exhilarating!

Let’s get a glimpse into the professional journey of our featured chef, Stéphane Frelon as we unravel his insights that have moulded his career in the culinary world.

Behind the Apron: Chef Stéphane Frelon Shared His Stories in Q&A

Before we start, let’s take a moment to acquaint ourselves with Chef Stéphane Frelon.

He started his culinary journey as a 14-year-old apprentice in a cuisine programme, honing his skills for 2 years. With 7 years of experience in the UK — where he co-owned 2 businesses, including a restaurant and a delicatessen — he further enriched his culinary expertise. Stéphane then ventured into the culinary scene in Canada, serving as an executive chef in a Montreal brasserie for 11 years.

His commitment to culinary education led him to pursue a bachelor’s degree in vocational education, and since 2013, he has been sharing his culinary knowledge as an instructor. Joining Le Cordon Bleu Ottawa in 2015 and later Le Cordon Bleu Malaysia in September 2019, Stéphane continues to inspire aspiring chefs on their culinary adventures.

Question 1: What inspired Chef Stéphane Frelon to become a culinary mentor at Sunway Le Cordon Bleu?

Since he began teaching in 2013, the idea of becoming a mentor at the best culinary school in Malaysia, Le Cordon Bleu was crystal clear, especially since he had previously worked with the school in Ottawa. Le Cordon Bleu stands as a bastion of the foundation of culinary techniques, upholding a renowned standard. As an instructor, being part of Le Cordon Bleu provides the ideal platform to impart his experience in a profoundly professional setting that deeply values global gastronomy.

Question 2: Favourite Malaysian dish?

He loves Rendang. The dish holds a special place as one of his favourite Malaysian dishes. The intricate blend of spices, chilli, acidity, and sweetness creates a powerful and harmonious flavour profile that he truly appreciates.

Question 3: Did he catch any episodes of Hell’s Kitchen?

He hasn’t watched many episodes of Hell’s Kitchen because he is more inclined to follow TOP Chef from France due to its exceptionally high professional standards. However, he does recognise the widespread popularity of Hell’s Kitchen and the thrilling kitchen experiences it brings to viewers.

Question 4: How accurately does Hell’s Kitchen depict a chef’s real-world career?

While he hasn’t delved deeply into the show, it appears that Hell’s Kitchen emphasises drama for entertainment. After all, the network needs a high rating and drama is one of the contributing factors. However, this shouldn’t overshadow the positive aspects because the show does showcase the intensity and pressure that chefs often face. Gordon Ramsay — with his masterful expertise — adds a layer of authenticity, even though not all kitchens mirror the same high-stakes scenarios. Viewers must recognise that while the show is entertaining, it offers a stylised version of the real-world challenges and dynamics within a professional kitchen.

Question 5: What’s the real-deal aspect of Hell’s Kitchen that mirrors the life of a chef?

It’s like the ultimate boot camp for discipline and mental toughness — the kind of culinary workout that separates the chefs from the kitchen rookies! In the kitchen, discipline and mental strength are not optional, they’re compulsory.

Question 6: What distinguishes fresh graduate chefs from Le Cordon Bleu in Malaysia from other applicants?

It’s all about the technique. Le Cordon Bleu programme emphasises 90% hands-on skills backed by theory, showcased through every sweet treat and savoury dish. Plus, Le Cordon Bleu brings the extra merit with a focus on soft skills like punctuality, work ethic, and discipline.

Question 7: Any advice for young Malaysians aspiring to a culinary career?

Start working in a place where you love to eat and be ready for sacrifices in the first decade — long hours and possibly a quieter social life, but never compromise on your health. To soar high, fly with eagles, not pigeons.

Enrol at Le Cordon Bleu Today & Meet Chef Stéphane Frelon Yourself!

With seasoned chef instructors, a blend of theory and practical culinary art programmes, and a lively campus atmosphere — your venture here at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Malaysia promises to be both enriching and inspiring. Come join a community that values not only the artistry of food but also the growth of each aspiring chef. Reach out to us today and our counsellors will be there to assist you in every step.