17 years old and Executive chef

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I'm 17 years old, I'm a senior in high school. I have work as sous chef at a prime rib/steakhouse for about 9 months now. Omaha, Nebraska (Steak City, USA!). I worked under our Executive all this time. To make a very long story very short, he was an awful chef who got the boot last week from our owner. I got a large raise and became executive. Every day at 4 (after school) I hurry to work and make sure my prep cooks got everything ready, put my jacket on, and by that time we have orders coming in. We usually do about 40-50 on the weekdays, around 120 covers on friday and about 120 on saturday too. I did 63 hours last week. The owner and her father (who is the 'consigliere' of the restaurant) love me; they want me to stay after school gets out and just keep working as exec. Everyone loves our food, and the restaurant is still consistantly making a good profit. The problem is, this is what I thought I wanted: to be the executive chef. I thought that's what everyone wanted. But its not what I want. I don't want to spend 70% of my time doing paperwork and research (as I currently am), I just want to cook. the owner and her father agreed with me to stay after high school gets out. But I'm realizing it's not what i want. I want to be a sous chef, meaning I just want to cook on the line. Am I crazy for thinking this? I am going to spend more months doing this job, but If it turns out to be not what i want, I want to go to culinary school and take a job as sous.
 
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go to school, travel and work in as many restaurants as you can. dont let yourself get tied to the money/title now when you are young and have the ability to do anything you want. trust me you have plenty of time to do scheduling, inventory, ordering, etc.
 
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First of all welcome to Cheftalk, second of all, you really didn't work as a Sous, you were a cook, third of all you are now Kitchen manage and not the Executive Chef. Ok, now that that's behind us, the weight is off your shoulder's, now make plans for the Prom. Just tell them you want to be a working Kitchen manager, tell them to figure out the rest..........You only 17 years old, how much past experience and new ideas can you bring to the table...........Your only 17 once, enjoy it.....ChefBillyB
 
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Hate to burst your bubble, but what qualifies you to be an executive chef at the age of 17, while still in high school, no formal training and nine months on the job?

There are plenty of topics on here about the title. It is one that is earned with many years of experience in the business.

As the sous chef, what were your duties? A sous chef should be able to do everything that the exec does, and also has many years of experience under his belt. This is not a cooks position, it is a management position.

I commend you for working 63 hrs plus school, sounds like you have a strong work ethic, you will need that in this business.

What do you do in the line? What are you cooking, what can you cook? Can you butcher steaks, fish? Do you know what a mother sauce? can you make  hollandaise?

My point is get out there and learn while your young and energetic, work in some good restaurants with good chef's, you just might learn a lot, and not have to spend all that $$ on school. That piece of paper on the wall looks good, but if you can't cook, no one will hire you.

I would hire a good line cook with several years experience  before I hired a culinary school grad with little to no real world experience.

You need to get out and learn....culinary school is not all that it's cracked up to be. Do you have 20-30-40 grand to spend on it? How long will it take you to repay that at your current salary?
 
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Why do you say the old chef was bad? I mean, I know he must have been (hey, he's gone and you are there right?), but I am curious as to why you think so.

Also, what does the rest of the crew think about working under a 17 yr old "exec"?
 
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Is your official title 'executive chef'?

My advice: stick around long enough to learn every aspect of the restaurant, managing, cooking, &c. Save as much money as you can. Then go get a job (or stage) cooking at the best restaurant that will take you. Build that resume--you already have a killer start for a 17 year old.
 
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17 years old is awfully young to be running a kitchen. In most states you can't even be a server at the age of 17. You can't even use alcohol when cooking.

You really need to go out there and see the world. Experience life, go to college, go on dates! Because when you become a chef, (with very few exceptions) you don't have a whole lot of free time.
 
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Hello,

and welcome to ChefTalk.

I'm just trying to figure out if your post is real or not. Your experience is working under a crappy chef for nine months

and now you are performing his job incredibly better.

   I personally don't think age has anything to do with your post.

Sometimes people use titles very loosely. Executive Chef, Consigliere,etc. If you take the title literaly it can become confusing.

An Executive Chef usually refers to a chef that has worked and learned  many positions and has a proven track record of accomplishments.

A Consigliere is the Italian word for advisor. It absolutely refers to someone involved in illegal organized crime.

I would be cautious using both those titles. Could come back to bite you ;>D

Panini

I enjoyed your post!

Reminds me of the kids spending a fortune to attend Chef school.

They used to be Culinary schools.
 
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Joined Mar 21, 2011
You are not crazy for wanting to cook. That passion will get you far and knowing how you feel about it is the first step to finding your place in the industry. I just read a great book called "If You Can Stand the Heat" by Dawn Davis. It gives you plenty of examples of how cooks became executive chefs, some by going to school, some by stages, etc. and it also gives pages and pages of resources. I wish I had read it before going to school. As a graduate, I can tell you that experience means a tremendous amount more than a diploma, but that diploma comes in handy too. Do what you love, not what some corporate restaurant needs you to do.
 
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You are not crazy for wanting to cook.. it is exactly what you should be doing at your age if you truly want to get into this business.   From your post it sounds like you know what you are doing and I commend you for working all of those hours and going to school at the same time.

But you are 17, and as Bill said you will  only be 17 once so get out there and enjoy being a teenager!  There will be plenty of time in your life for you to bust your chops and get the job done but you need to be planning for the prom and graduation and all of those once in a lifetime events that come with being a teenager.
 
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My official job title is "Head Chef". The old executive was lazy; didn't care about the quality of the food, just cared about his salary-based paycheck and used to cheat on everything, i.e. try to get in par-cooked things, etc. I wanted to do everything from scratch, and that's what I'm doing. I never said I have much experience in the field; That's why I want to get out, I want to learn more. As far as the staff goes, they have known me for almost a year, and have seen my work ethic and how much I care, so the line cooks and servers don't really have a problem being "under" a 17 year old. I used the word "Consigliere" because Italian is my mother tongue; sorry if it offended you. I know how to cook, well for my age, meaning I know the mother sauces, I make hollandaise on a regular basis (mussel/hollandaise dish on the menu). I did not mean to offend anyone, as it seems some of you were a bit angry sounding in your posts, and I apologize if that is the case. I want to be a line cook. I just want to take orders off the printer, cook them, handle a crazy rush, plate plates, and send them. I do not want the work of the Executive. I thank you for your advice, and please, hold nothing back on this. I wanted the opinions of some experienced chefs and I really do appreciate what you all have said so far. Again, Thank you.
 
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Good for you!!! you sound much more mature than most 17 year olds I know (my daughter is a Senior in high school). Obviously your parents did a good job instilling you with a good work ethic and you seem like a heads up kinda guy. As far as culinary school goes seems to me that if your doing what you "say" your doing, and I can see why there is some dought, I wouldn't spend the money for that. I personally feel it's very tuff to get back the money you invest in school. Around here, Oregon, you have the western culinary institute which is almost 50k for one year. That's alot of year's of paying back tuition. Just keep doing what your doing and gain experience, as others have said, and your going to do great!!

Also being a sous doesn't mean you just hang out on the line cooking all day. there's alot more to it than that. Ever heard the saying " Sous chef does all the work, Chef get's all the credit".      ( disclaimer ) not intended to piss any Chef's off, unless your a lazy ass
 
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To work 63 hours ,I hope he is paying you if you are by the hour , time and a half. Owner loves you because most likely he pays you half of what he would have to pay Ex. Chef. Dont be fooled or taken advantage of. Get your schooling and enjoy your life a little. You only go through this age period once...If you are not making a minimum of $40,000.00 a year he is exploiting you  Good Luck
 
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I just want to take orders off the printer, cook them, handle a crazy rush, plate plates, and send them. I do not want the work of the Executive.
I can definitely relate, after 37 years in the business, having been an owner/chef, having been an executive chef, etc., I am now working as a line cook. I had a helluva time finding someone to believe that all I wanted to do was cook and who would hire me as such.

I just know that I am not ready to retire yet. My ego doesn't need to be the man and I don't need a lot of money. I just want to do what I love... and it ain't paperwork!

My advice would be to get a job at a restaurant such as Marks Food, Wine, & Spirits or V.Mertz or a restaurant in a similiar vein. Be a sponge and soak up as much knowledge as you can.

A job such as you presently have is an easy "time eating snare" to fall into and before you know it 10 years have gone by. Those jobs will always be there, but you only have so many years.

Choose wisely grasshopper.
 
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Joined Jul 28, 2001
Seventeen,

First off I'm not offended by the word consigilere. I was just mentioning that you were associating the owner with organized crime and I was having trouble trying to figure  out

who he was advising above him. My toungue also.

  I think it's great that you have a job at seventeen. Don't misconstrue the comments for negetivity or anger. The problem is that you posted in a professional forum as a chef. Fact is, it

sometimes takes 17 yrs to become an chef or exec. Calling yourself a chef is kind of a slam to those chefs who have trained and learned in the industry for decades to use the title.

   You must really read these posts. There is a bunch of advice between the lines. You will find noone here that doubts your passion and effort.

I would use the search here at CT or try a new post on what it takes to use the title of Chef.

Hopefully I will read about you one day.

Panini
 
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Chef"  Define these terms    Cockaleekee,, Muligatawny, Puree of Mongole,  Vol Au Vent, Bonne-Femme, Duxelle. Most Chefs can define these easily..
 
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To the poster who asked about my pay, My rate is $18.25 per hour, and overtime does mean time and one half. To Chefedb, I am very sorry but I never claimed to know those terms. I don't know any of them. I'm sure everyone on this forum knows more about food and cooking than me. I did not mean to offend anyone, or make them feel bad. I just want some professional advice on whether or not giving this job up is a good idea or not. Thanks to all and god bless.
 
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Chef"  Define these terms    Cockaleekee,, Muligatawny, Puree of Mongole,  Vol Au Vent, Bonne-Femme, Duxelle. Most Chefs can define these easily..
30 years and I have never heard the term Cockaleekee .....well no wonder ....A favorite soup in Scotland, made from a capon highly seasoned, and boiled with leeks and prunes.Not something that is on most peoples radar.....      Not something ths                

Not something that is on most peoples radar.....  

Puree of Mongole.....Split pea with the addition of canned tomato soup???  No thanks 
 
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