Freakin' tired of cooking other people's!!

Joined Nov 17, 2009
I'm a culinary student with a little under a year left before I graduate.  I go to my classes in the mornings and straight out of class, I go to work.  I work for one of the top chefs at one of the top restaurants in my city.  I'm grateful and proud of it because I know I'm ahead of my peers.  The problem is..outside of school and work, there is no time to work on myself and my recipes.  My lunch is cooked in school and my dinner is cooked at work.  Those all being someone else recipes.   At night before I sleep, I scour food blogs and spend hours before bed writing out my own recipes and creations.  I have random loose notes and notebooks full of my own ideas that would fill up a small room.  Problem is I have no time to execute those ideas from paper to actual product.  I'm working under a great chef learning from him applying also what I learn from school.  However, I feel all the great chefs are great because of their imagination.  How do I build upon myself, my imagination, my creations by creating other people's creations?  I know this is just how it is working your way up the brigade system.  So my final question is: do I need to give up school or give up work so I can have time to work on myself?  Thanks in advance.
Joined Apr 3, 2010
You should examine your time management. The great Andre Soltner of Leutece fame once said"'' No one actually creates arecipe or dish, they just take something that was done by someone before and alters or modifies it.'';; Just keep your eyes open and keep learning, your day will come it took me years as it did a lot of other people on this site. When the chef thinks you are ready, he will let you create, you have a long way to go as a student!
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Joined Aug 21, 2009
I suggest on your days off you do some cooking on your own at home and perfect some dishes and create some recipes.  Right now you are starting out and you have to cook the other guy's way at work but what you do in your offtime is completely up to you.


yeah i don't see your problem... before ever turning on the stove, i have ideas all up in my head. i have never cooked many of them, but i know what flavor profiles i like and i know the proper cooking methods for it. to perfect it, you need time to cook it... but you should know what to expect and shouldn't have too many surprises. i take every chance i get to try new foods, so maybe that will help you figure out your cooking style. as said, until you make it to the top or open up your own restaurant, you will have to cook other peoples recipes... sucks, but you may learn a thing or two along the way.
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I would say, give up complaining. There is a lot to learn, and you have a lot of time, don't rush it, it will be here before you know it................Chef BillyB
Joined May 22, 2010
Yeah, it's called busting your ass at work, showing you've got the chops, and eventually being promoted to a position that will allow you to create daily specials, or the S.O.D. .. or even the starch for a banquet.

You've gotta walk before you can run. Although, using that metaphor, it seems to me that every apprentice and student figures they're ready to win the Boston marathon, and that everyone else in the race is a paraplegic.
Joined Apr 3, 2008
survey says : suck it up for a bit longer.

You got plenty of time to do what you want. Although you may have been remiss if you didn't ask the question.
Joined Mar 16, 2005
If you have ideas try them out at home on friends and family... if the chef thinks you're good ask for permission to try certain things, if he/she likes you they will encourage you to try or give you advice and their opinion.  Ultimately as you rack up the years you will find that your style of cuisine changes due to trends, people you've worked with, etc.  It's nothing to fear and there's nothing wrong with being influenced by other people.
Joined Oct 10, 2005
.....How do I build upon myself, my imagination, my creations by creating other people's creations?  I know this is just how it is working your way up the brigade system.  So my final question is: do I need to give up school or give up work so I can have time to work on myself?  Thanks in advance.
How?  Like everyone else.  You get an idea from someone/where and play with it.

Look, a true artist is never afraid to try anything new.  Why?  Because a true artist has mastered all the techniques in his field: Colours, perspective, shadowing, etc.

Unless you have mastered all the techniques in cooking--and a few from the pastry side of things, you will never have true creativity.

If you are getting paid to work under good Chefs, then absorb and squeeze all you can from them.    It is important to make mistakes and learn why things went wrong, so you can anticipate and correct any future problems.

Once you're comfortable with something you've created, describe it to your Chef and ask him to run it as a daily special--but don't be surpised or upset if he asks you to cost it out first.
Joined Aug 18, 2007
You obviously have a spark. That, with imagination and a need to show your worth, will take you a long way I hope. But for now, I'm sorry, but suck it up. We really were all there.

Perhaps the chef at work would agree to critique something you made at home and brought in? A cold dessert perhaps, or a starter

Could you go into work an hour early and make something he would agree to look at?
Joined Mar 3, 2010
im sure you dont go to school everyday, that leaves sat and sun. your time will come and you will get the trust of your chef or peers to create your own dishes or specials. just sit tight and learn as much as you can. i too had the same problem however sat and sun or usually sun cause i had no work or school, i did all my cooking. nothing really new ideas just trying to learn my culture and my countrys cooking. write it down or store it on a computer, i started bringing a notebook with me to my jobs so if i do get ideas i write them down. once you are done with school, which will be quick, you will have pleanty of time to try them out. dont give up school or work, keep yourself motivated and everything will come. if you got a great chef learn form him, do everything he tells you and that way you will know proper ways of doing things. people always rush to wanting making things and creating dishes but its important to learn form others and getting better at simpler things or basics like knife cuts or breaking down meats or fish. learn while you are in school, dont be in a rush.
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Joined Jul 3, 2008
If you understand flavor profiles, have a sensitive palate, etc. then the recipes and ideas you have will probably most likely "work" in that you won't make yourself or others totally wretch when they eat the dish.  A lot of great ideas that "fail" fail because of poor technique.  So, here's what you can do to test a recipe if you don't have time to make it yourself - give it to somebody whom you know has solid technique and let them take a crack at it for you.

Architects design homes and let other people hammer the nails.

Otherwise, and as somebody else mentioned, cook during the many hours you state you spend creating recipes and menus. 
Joined Jun 18, 2010
Its great that you have the duality of working under a great chef while attending culinary school. But if he is really a great chef like you claim then he should allow you foster that drive of creation. Try talking with him and explaining a dish you would like to make for a special...just ensure that all the ingredients would already be in inventory. But you must understand that working hard and proving skills before requesting to make a special need to be present. I wasn't allowed to come up with S.O.D on my own for the first six months of making soups for my chef, after having several years under my belt already. In the end it is all about proving that you are up to the task.

Cooking on your off time and not reading so much about cooking would also be a very wise thing.
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