Getting a new job.

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by rdm magic, Dec 16, 2012.

  1. rdm magic

    rdm magic

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    I currently work in a chain kitchen. I've been there 6 months, and it was my first ever job in the trade. I enjoy the job and I want to pursue it as a career, but I want to leave the place where I am currently working. I'm dissatisfied with the quality of food they allow, the fact that due to it being a chain no-one has any input in any of the dishes, and I feel like due to this my learning is being hampered.

    I would really like to work in a highly rated, independent restaurant. I'm in a fairly big city in England, FWIW.

    I'm hoping some of you more experienced guys in the trade can help me by answering a few of my questions.

    1) How should I apply to new jobs? Should I look for vacancies, or just drop in at restaurants that interest me and explain my situation? If so, what time should I drop in? Would writing letters be a better way?

    2) Are there any reasons I should never mention when/if I get an 'interview'? I'm already aware of a few, like never bad mouthing a previous chef.

    3) I was intending to apply after Christmas. Obviously right now is too busy for me to be applying to new places, but I thought that January would be quiet enough for them to take me on. I'm now thinking though that as it will be a quiet period, they won't be keen on taking new staff on. Am I overthinking it?

    Thanks in advance, and I'm sure that I'll remember some more questions, or some new ones will arise from this thread.
     
  2. duckfat

    duckfat

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    We all have to start some place but as you've discovered working for a chain can be mundane. Consider your employment moves carefully. You don't want to be perceived by potential employers as some one that's going to jump ship every six months. It looks a heckuva lot better if you approach me and say you've been working at a chain for a year but your not learning any thing about being a Chef. At six months it makes me as an employer wonder if you have enough commitment or if your going to jump ship again as soon as I train you. Give that some thought. Assuming you are determined to move and can't ride out the next six months;

    1) You should apply in person. Find out who the Chef is at the establishment. Read the menu. Know SOMETHING about the Chef and the place you are applying to. Try to contact the Chef directly. If you can't get through by going through the front door you know where the door is to the kitchen. Ask for the Chef but be ready with your "A" game pitch about wanting to learn and why they should hire you. Take your knife roll. Some times the best opportunities are completely unexpected and don't be surprised if your asked to go straight to work. Stand tall and be assertive but not cocky.

    Forget the letters. There's already a stack of them on the desk.

    Don't wait for help wanted ads. Target the Chef's and restaurants you want to work for. If you need some practice don't start with your #1 pick. Perfect your sales pitch and interview skills and then work up to that.

    The best time to drop by is late afternoon before dinner. The Chef has had coffee. The days meetings are over and some one may have just called in sick or late (Again!). ;)

    2)  Common sense applies here. Be professional.

    3) Peak times are not bad times. In fact it can be just the time to pick up a second job. Waiting until after peak season when things are slow is not the time to go.  That's when people are getting their hours cut or let go. Prior to peak season or in peak season are your best bets.

    Best of luck in the new search but think about sticking it out where your are just a bit longer. If you do move commit to working at least a full year at your next position no matter what.

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2012
  3. commischris

    commischris

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    Hey, I'm an English lad who was in your position, 2 years with a company, but have just moved to London, with no fine dining experience I.got a job st the Ritz (3 rosette) very swiftly. If you want to move to London apply here a lot of chefs come and go so there are always commis positions.

    But either way
    1) email,send your cv to every place you want to work and don't be shy apply to places with high standards
    2) just be sincire,.tell him you want to learn and why.
    3) if you.want a job apply now, you have. Notice.period :)

    Good lucl
     
  4. vic cardenas

    vic cardenas

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    Good advice from Duckfat. But, I would like to counter what he said about being weary of your job stability. It's sound advice, but I think some chefs might not see that as much of a liability.  

    I would assume this isn't your first job?

    If you have had job stability in your other trade(s) and you can prove it on your resume, I wouldn't hesitate to hire you based on you only working in a chain restaurant for 6 months. I think many chefs can sympathize with you not wanting to work in a chain and wanting to move to a more creative independent before putting in much time with the chain. I would just tell them the truth, like you did for us. I would really relish over the fact that you really enjoy the restaurant industry and want to stay in it, but would rather focus on creativity and quality that cannot be fulfilled at a chain. Highlight your job stability in your past trade (if that's the case).  

    Of course, they'll know you're a greenhorn and many won't hire someone with only 6 months in the industry, but you may be surprised who would hire you. Just be willing to do the dirty work for a while to learn the ropes. Don't expect to come in and be their sous-chef, or even a line cook, in 3 months. 

    On the other hand, if your resume reflects that you have 6 months here, 8 months there, 10 months at another. Or, this is your first job, than Duckfat's right, every chef will look at you with the same opinion. 
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2012
  5. rdm magic

    rdm magic

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    This is my first job. Will another 6 months really make that much difference on my resume? I'm not particularly in a rush to leave, but I just don't see any reason to be staying at my job now.

    If I'm not going to be starting out as a line cook, what would I be starting as? Atleast where I work, the line/commis are the lowest level, only porters under them.
     
  6. duckfat

    duckfat

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    The simple truth is that it's going to vary from Chef to Chef. The person to worry about is you. It's in your best interest to finish a whole year on your first job. Imagine how it would look if you leave now and the new job doesn't work out. Put that first year behind you. That way you always have that reference. Use the next six months to scout out prospects and if you get the right job offer then make a decision but at this juncture be selective. Six months is nothing. What are the UK requirements for getting certified? Here you only get points for that work if you finish the year. When you do leave give plenty of notice and get a letter of recommendation.

    Dave
     
  7. vic cardenas

    vic cardenas

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    Ok, that changes everything. I agree with everything DF said then.You need to stick it out a while longer at that job and hopefully collect 3 solid work references there in addition to what DF stated. 

    If I could go back in time to when I was 16-20 years old, one of the only things I'd do over again would be taking my first 2 or 3 jobs more seriously. That way, I probably would've landed better. 
     
  8. twyst

    twyst

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    Prep cook.
     
  9. commischris

    commischris

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    In England we use the French terminology, So he would be a commis.
    just out of curiousity how does.the us tier work?
    Prep - commis
    line - chef de partie
    sous - ?
     
  10. smork

    smork

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    you can learn alot in every building you work in.   id go with the year plan and maybe find a nice place to start working part time along with the job you have now and maybe slide over to the other place when the time is right.   in chain establishments id suggest focosing on their sanitation proceedures and follow their expected proceedures to their limits and develope all your habits around that and just being as efficient as you can be.  let it be mundane.   thats how we develope our habbits.   hopefully they are more productive then un.   dig in and work hard.   i cant say on here what was said to me when i was in the same situation 25 years ago.   
     
  11. twyst

    twyst

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    A sous is a sous, even in the french brigade system.   I believe the full title is sous chef de cuisine, but sous chef is much more common.
     
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2012
  12. rdm magic

    rdm magic

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    A sous chef title doesn't make a sous chef though
     
  13. duckfat

    duckfat

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  14. raibeaux

    raibeaux

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    +1 on staying put for at least a year.  Although my cooks can "learn" the job in a couple of months, it takes at least six months to a year or more to get really good at it.  And that's if they are interested, asking questions and trying hard.  Also, a great work ethic can excuse a lot of experience shortcomings.  That's why some longevity at previous jobs, whatever they were, is important to us. 

    Mostly I don't mind how long it takes a new hire to learn their job, if I see they are trying and making an effort to learn it the right way while getting faster at it.

    If you're wanting to change because your job is not challenging enough, I would try to be the best at whatever it is you're doing.  Also, most jobs magically become more enjoyable when you know you're the best.  It also usually gets you really good references.

    By the way, I can nearly always tell when an employee is looking for another job or about to quit by the way they're working and talking.