First time ina professional kitchen. "do"s and dont's" What to expect.

Discussion in 'General Culinary School Discussions' started by jfm31, May 15, 2012.

  1. jfm31

    jfm31

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    Hello All,

       I am a longtime cook, meaning at my home and others homes. I'm the guy everyone wants to cook for parties. I have been in sales professionally for most of my adult life and have officially parted wyas with it. Maybe because I wanted a change or maybe just because I looked around one day and saw all the 45 year olds sharing my profession, their lists of problems, and for the lack of a better term, "coulda, woulda, shoulda's."  Frankly I didnt want to see myself there one day. I just turned 31 and have enrolled in culinary school for the Fall where I will be studying under my states "Chef of the Year." Cooking is something that makes me feel alive. I want to start a food truck eventually and possibly a restaurant or two down the road... But wait a second here, I dont want to get ahead of myself. Thats a ways off and a lot of hard work later.

        Here's the thing... It just so happens the same time I decided to part ways with my previous sales life, a friend is opening a restaurant in a trendy part of town and needs some help in the kitchen. The menu is nothing amazing by any means but it is fresh, local, and a good concept for its location. It will be mostly stuffed burgers and truffle fries. That type of place. I have agreed to go onboard and am pretty much diving in head first. I figured to make up for my age gap the best way to get an edge would be culinary school and "real world" simultaneously. However, school doesnt start until the Fall. This is a huge change for me to say the least. Yet, and exciting one.

       Thats the background. Heres where I could use some help.

       I need to know what to expect. What type of clothing works best? Meaning from an average persons wardrobe until I can get the "real deal" attire. I have a friend that has instructed me to "ChefWear" and I intend to get my gear from there eventually. That said, for right now... What do I "Need" to have. Which shoes are best for the money? A few "do's" and "dont's" would be helpful. I literally found out via a meeting at the restaurant one hour ago that I have the job and start in the am at 10. The grand opening is Friday night. We have a lot of work to do and I dont want to have to ask the other cook there about every little thing. Any helpful insight would be greatly appreciated and put to good use. Cheers and happy eating. Best........ J.
     
  2. chefross

    chefross

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    First off....welcome to ChefTalk....We're here to help but................................

    What you are asking here is to compress more than 20+ years of advice, and experiences in just a few short paragraphs.

    This is impossible.

    Firstly....accept the reality that cooking at home or other homes for friends is not the same thing as cooking for the public

    .

    Many young people such as yourself have the notion that cooking in a home setting will give them the knowledge and experience to cook commercially.

    They are always in for a big surprise.

    As far as kitchen attire goes, you want to be comfortable firstly.

    Wearing street clothes while cooking for the public can be unsanitary.

    Wearing the "real deal." right from the start helps keep you cool as well as knowing that you are wearing the uniform of your profession.

    I'm glad to know that you are attending culinary school while cooking at a job.

    You'll learn a lot in school as far as theory and the job will give you the tools you need to continue with that education.

    I wish you well.
     
  3. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Clean as you go. Strive to be efficient rather than fast. Multi task and plan ahead while doing it so that you use your head not your legs. Always look for better ways that you can do things and make the next time an improvement. Good enough, never is. Because that's the way we have always done it, is not sound logic. This too shall pass. The world as I know it is not really ending due to my actions.
     
  4. rbandu

    rbandu

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    My two cents, condensed version:

    I love ChefWear, but they can be a little pricey.  My "clean coats" (what I wear in the dining areas if I need to go out there) are indeed from ChefWear.  My working coats I get from Happy Chef.  They've got a website, check them out.  For shoes just find something extremely comfortable, preferably slip-on with minimal stitching or seams.  The reasoning behind many chefs wearing clogs is that if you drop food/spill things on them, they wipe off easily and food is less likely to stick to/into them.  Ever try to clean, say, honey or a cream sauce from lace-up shoes?
     
  5. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    I prefer slip-ons, they are a LOT easier to get out of when you drop hot stock or hot oil!
     
  6. modchef

    modchef

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    Gotta say, that's a pretty dang good attempt at trying to describe "how to be a real honest to goodness chef" in a nutshell!

    It's Saturday - how'd the big Friday night grand opening go?
     
  7. jfm31

    jfm31

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    Hey fellow Culinarians! Is that even a word? Sorry for the late response guys. Ive put in 65 hours this past week and its been a blur. I appreciate each of you taking your time to respond to my thread.

    ChefRoss- Thanks for responding. I had already accepted beforehand that this wasnt going to be the same as cooking at peoples houses. That was simply a referernce to imply that though this was going to be a new experience, I wasnt clueless. I was more asking what I needed for my first week on the job, what was handy to have, etc. Not to compress 20 years of experience into a few paragraphs, which is obviously impossible. I am also looking forward to culinary school and all the things I am going to learn. First week went great.

    ChefLayne- great advice! cleaning as you go is definitely the ticket. First week was great, working with a couple good guys. Front of house bought me shots at the end of the night because last night was my first night to finish the night on my own and it went off without a hitch. I guess thats a good sign. Really a great group Im working with. Keep in mind the menu is nothing technically challenging. Will continue to work on my efficiency and multi tasking. Thanks again for taking the time.

    RBandu- Indeed I have, not a fun time. Will definitely check out HappyChef, going to do that now actually. Thanks so much for taking the time to respond.

    PeteMcCracken- Will definitely be buying some shoes this week. Going to go Clogs with a back. Thanks for responding to my thread. Happy cooking!

    ModChef- Thanks for checking on my "big night"- ha. If you can call it that. It went very well. We had nearly three hundred people and prepared a tasting menu. No complaints, only positive feedback. Went smoothly and without incident. Still learning their "system" and already see room for improvements in a couple areas but I dont want to speak too soon. Im sure there will be a time and place for me to voice a few ideas. I dont want to be the new guy that comes in and starts wanting to change things. I'll earn that right soon enough. Thanks again for checking in.

    Well guys/girls, one week in and feeling good about my decision to follow my dream. You all didnt have to take the time to respond to my measly, otherwise non interesting thread(to an accomplished chef I mean) but you did and I am grateful for that. Any advice will always be appreciated and put to good use. Heres to putting out great food and always improving, and cleaning(ChefLayne), as you go. Thanks again. Best............................................ J.
     
     
  8. rbandu

    rbandu

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    The force is strong with you, young padawan.  You will go far in the industry.  I'm sure I speak for all chefs out there when I say you've got the right attitude, and you've very respectful.  I salute you, sir.
     
  9. jfm31

    jfm31

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    I accept the salute youve offered and return one in your direction Master Jedi. I will strive to earn that salute on each and every dish. Maybe one day we will cross paths in a kitchen. I am anxious to start school and received my acceptance letter today in the mail. Going to be fun to see where this journey takes me. Hoping to finish my Bachelors at Johnson and Wales in 2015. They have some amazing study abroad programs that Id love to take. France, maybe Spain. Thanks again for being a pal. Youdaman. Best......................... J.