culinary student unable to find employment.

Joined Nov 12, 2009
I don't get it why does everyone want people who have at least 2 years experience in a kitchen. I cant find a job and it is driving me CRAZY! I have been hopeful and filled out tons of applications. I even have a half decent resume. why wont anyone hire me?! I really don't want to drop out of school I love it. do you have any tips on getting a job in the culinary field? I can post pics of the foods I have done in school and cakes I have made, if any one is interested. thanks so much


Joined Oct 2, 2006
I will talk about my current experience.

I had put many ads online to work for free, scrubbing dishes, floors, whatever it took to get myself into a professional kitchen. I posted mostly on craigslist, and a few hospitality sites. And I answered many ads with hardly any response. I actually received a few work for free offers, but unfortunately they were very far from where I live.

Finally, about a month ago, I received an email from an owner of an upscale restaurant saying she might have an opportunity for me. Long story short, I met with their chef and yesterday was the beginning of my 3rd week.

At first I took the lazy route by trying to find an opportunity online. I was lucky. I was starting to give up on the internet and was preparing a list of restaurants I was interested in, and was planning to make the rounds during their slow times, in between lunch and dinner, so the chef might have time to talk. That seems to be a common way of getting a first job. You just plead your case to the chef, and if they see the passion in you, they might offer something.

As far as "you" not getting hired. School and actual job experience are two different things. I am one of the better students in the kitchen at school, but at the job, I felt like a fish out of water my first few days. ****, I still feel a little like that, but in a more comfortable way. I am lucky that the chef is understanding and patient. And at the job I am re-learning things that I learned in class. Things like skinning and portioning fish. And in order of getting good at this stuff, you need repetition. Going over it only once in class doesn't cut it, at least for me it doesn't.

They want two years experience because it takes time, everyday, all day, to learn this craft. The chef really needs to rely on his or her crew to get things right the first time. And two + years shows you have some kind of dedication and passion, and probably know what you are doing.

I would just offer to work for free. So you can get experience. And as Marco Pierre says, "To obtain knowledge." If you bust your *** working for free, you will get experience, and that will lead to a paying position. Bring in a nice portfolio of your work (since you mentioned photos) and just show passion. Be willing to do ANYTHING.

Good luck.
Joined Jun 21, 2007
Not sure if this is right to say or not but I am not a chef or in culinary school and I've asked if I could go into the kitchen of at least 4 restaurants that I can think of right now. And when they [to my surprise] said yes, I walked in and asked, "what can I do to help"? Grab a this or do a that, it could be timing but it's not been hard if you appear to really want to be there just to help out. If you work out there and they see your potential, how much could it hurt to have you stick around?
Joined Sep 29, 2009
Respond to dishwasher listings also. Explain your goals to the chef and remember, turnover is high on the line. Anything to get your foot in the door at a decent restaurant.
Joined Oct 28, 2008
I agree with rjx. I have had to typically do a stage before actually being hired on. Perhaps if you offer to do this right off the bat the chef will give you that opportunity to show him/her what you've got. You have nothing to lose anyways right? It's a couple of days and even if you don't get hired you will probably pick up some useful tricks and tips. You always have to show drive and initiative as well. I think that's key. From the dishwasher right up to the chef. The other day one of our dishwashers shuffled into the prep kitchen, hopped up and sat on the edge of the prep table. The sous wheeled around, eyes flaming and said "If I catch you standing around doing nothing again you're getting sent home...k?!" But I digress.

Good luck with the search!
Joined Nov 12, 2009
Thanks guys! I actually got my 1st interview at the breakers today. hopefully things went as well as I think they did. I had actually volunteered for the chef before hand so maybe that will give me a leg up. If I dont get this job, I will start working for free. though how do you afford to work for free. I need money to get to free job and to school. along with bills.


Joined Oct 2, 2006
It's ruff. You might have to sacrifice sleep and / or free time to work for free in the kitchen, and then work a paying shift at a regular job either before, or after your kitchen shift. And the days off from the kitchen (if any) could be the time to work at a paying job.

You could keep / or get a regular paying job now, and focus the rest of your attention to school, and try to make the best of it. Volunteer for all the events you can, and try learn as much as you can. Always try to work your way into the front of the class for lecture, and demonstrations. Try to help the instructor when possible. And at the same time, keep trying to find a kitchen job.

It can seem like it will never happen, but all you can do is not give up. And when you do get an opportunity, try your hardest to hold onto it. After a while its very repetitious and you will only get better.

I wish you all the best.
Joined Feb 4, 2010
as a chef i know we dont like haveing students in the kitchen with us becouse for the mose part they can keep up with us and we need to get the food out so im just letting you know and we always want some kind on exp first. if u have any questions just let me know
Joined Oct 18, 2007
It's all about timing.
Today I may be able to take on a project, someone who I believe has potential, and devote some of the staffs time towards bringing this person along.
Tomorrow I may not have that luxury, I may need to have my aces in their places.
Persistence pays off.
If you are constantly showing up asking for work (during the slow periods), eventually I am probably going to hire you.
If I'm going to see you every day I might as well get some work out of you. :)
Seriously, turnover is often unexpected, people leave suddenly, and if you're Johnny on the spot, you get the job.
Joined Jan 22, 2010
keep with it i was without a job for most of culinary school
get noticed put 100% of your effort even if you have school the next morning at 6:00 and it's 2 in the morning
watch your chefs what they do how they do it, ask questions
show them they can count on you and not have to babysit you
Top Bottom