Career decisions hurt in the long run

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Joined Apr 19, 2015
Hi everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve posted, though I’ve never been a constant contributor. Either way this forum has been very helpful and I’m back with some hope for career advice. This will be somewhat long and I appreciate anyone willing to read and offer his or her two cents.

I took my first head chef job almost a year ago. It was a right place/right time type of situation but hard work and dedication played a huge role, and it felt earned.
I worked for 7 months at this fine dining restaurant as head chef, developed a new and eclectic menu which got great reviews.
The location and price for the area unfortunately only had us barely pushing 30 covers on a Friday night. The banquet side however was successful and kept us busy.
The staff I inherited from the previous chef had little respect for me (due to my young age and lack of kitchen management experience) which led to a lot of tension and difficulties.
This led me to taking a sous chef job at a busy French brasserie with the hopes of learning from a great chef from France with 40 years of experience, to better my knowledge.
This Chef/owner turned out to be an absolute drunk who would make mistakes which would all fall upon myself and I would be to blame, leading his wife (the other owner) to let me go.
After that, I applied for several kitchen manager and chef positions but wouldn’t even hear back for an interview. I was able to land a small catering job as the kitchen manager but it’s only operational for 6 months out of the year and that time is coming to a close as I started 3 months into their season.
Now I’m looking for a new and hopefully long lived job as a kitchen manager or chef, not desperately, I am trying to find something that sounds like a good fit.
I fear that I don’t have enough time as a chef to get another chef position.
Am I wasting my time even applying and sending resumes? I regret leaving my first Chef job so early as I think it destroyed all credibility.
I know this was long, so I don’t expect many replies but I had to reach out for advice with the full story. Thank you
 
3,073
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Joined May 5, 2010
For what it's worth, what you've been through is aka: "normal" for our industry.
As you mentioned, the right fit is very important. My advice, as I too have been there, is to keep your head up, never lose your professional manner, and keep on trying to find that right fit. Best of luck.
 
54
17
Joined Apr 19, 2015
For what it's worth, what you've been through is aka: "normal" for our industry.
As you mentioned, the right fit is very important. My advice, as I too have been there, is to keep your head up, never lose your professional manner, and keep on trying to find that right fit. Best of luck.
Thanks for the response, I definitely will
 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
I will second ChefRoss advice.
Early in their careers Daniel Boulud and Alfred Portale were each Exec chef at the same country club, (not at the same time). Neither was.a good fit for that place.. Both went on to have brilliant careers.
Keep going.
 
1,658
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Joined Dec 23, 2004
Be positive and focus on the positives. When you get a chance to interview focus on the things you did well and the things you learned. Never bad-mouth a previous job (although it's fair and honest to admit it wasn't a good fit- but even then explain how you grew from it).
 
54
17
Joined Apr 19, 2015
I will second ChefRoss advice.
Early in their careers Daniel Boulud and Alfred Portale were each Exec chef at the same country club, (not at the same time). Neither was.a good fit for that place.. Both went on to have brilliant careers.
Keep going.
I’ll have to look into Boulud’s
Be positive and focus on the positives. When you get a chance to interview focus on the things you did well and the things you learned. Never bad-mouth a previous job (although it's fair and honest to admit it wasn't a good fit- but even then explain how you grew from it).
its always tempting to badmouth a previous chef or owner, but I agree, it makes you seem unprofessional. Thanks man
 
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Joined May 5, 2010
I’ll have to look into Boulud’s

its always tempting to badmouth a previous chef or owner, but I agree, it makes you seem unprofessional. Thanks man

Another one of those forbidden rules is to never ditz the other guy because word gets around between Chefs that "so and so is badmouthing so and so."
 
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
zossolifer zossolifer , Welcome back. What your going through is normal in many cases. In fact it happened to me. The thing to realize is, you will have ups and downs in this business. IMHO, talent, experience and confidence will fallow you in every position you apply for. Some positions I went from were Club Manager/Chef to line cook to Restaurant manager to Concession Manager. I remember driving up a road to a new employee cafeteria position in a Potato processing plant. I thought I hit an all time low in my career. At the time I didn't know in 5 years I would start my own Food service Management Co and Catering Co. Was I ready for this move into may own business, You betcha. Looking back I realized I brought all the knowledge of 17 years of working all kinds of food services to get me to where I was at, at that time of my life. Things happen for a reason, everything is earned nothing is given. I took everything I knew into a food serve that was viewed as basic and simple kinds of food. After some time I introduced Demo Wok cooking in the dining room. I was doing all kinds of Corp and Employee catering and large functions. The point is, they looked at it was being exceptional. I looked at it as me being me doing what I do best.

The lesson I learned was, Be yourself where you're at. In my case I was always viewed as a person who had more knowledge and experience than the position I was working in. This gave me a chance to just be myself and learn. Learn what you lack, understand your weaknesses and practice what you don't know.

I remember what a Golf pro told me many years ago. People always take out the 7 Iron when hitting balls on the practice range. The reason why is, it makes them look good, it's an easier club to make us look good. The thing is you don't get any better with the other clubs .

Learn what you don't know and get better. Use every past experience as a stepping stone to a career you desire. Being a "Know It All" in this business is a good thing. When you accept a position as a Chef you better have all the answers.

Take every opportunity to learn and get better. If managing people is a weakness then work on that. Work on what you don't know, don't practice what you do know......The Best.......ChefBillyB
 
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Joined Sep 26, 2017
It never look good on a résumé to have dropped in positions as your career advances. To go from chef to sous chef to kitchen manager is the reverse of what it should be and sends red flags to potential employers.

What you can do to fix your situation is to rewrite your résumé so it sounds like your career is progressing beautifully. For example, I was once a chef, and I quit to move to a different city. I couldn't get a chef job right away, so I worked as a line cook for a while cuz I needed the money.

I intentionally left this line cook position off my résumé as I continued to apply for another chef job. When I finally got an interview, I just told them that I have been on a vacation since my last chef job.

Or you can just settle for a cook job somewhere, forget the past, and work your way up to chefhood again.
 
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