High Volume vs. Smaller establishments?

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Joined Dec 13, 2018
Those of you who have worked both, what are your insights? What are the pros and cons of each? Which route would you suggest people new to the profession experience first and why? What was your journey? Would you change it at all?
 
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
That is a tough one because it depends on the goals and aspirations of the individual. I was focused on learning as much as I could about the art and craft of cooking so I tended toward smaller establishments where I felt I had a better opportunity to grow in that aspect.

But I also spent time in larger establishments as well, which also taught me much, just of a somewhat different nature. In larger establishments the skills were more towards the mechanics of cooking, speed and efficiency; although these are certainly learned in smaller establishments as well.

My advice to someone new would be to look for a chef mentor who is willing to impart their knowledge. And when moving on and up, continue to look for chefs who know more than you. Don't be in too big of a hurry to climb to the top dog spot. The learning doesn't stop when you are top dog though, because the business and the guests will be your teachers. But once again,, the learning is of a somewhat different nature, and not just culinary focused.
 
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For me it is a small place every time. you can have a changing menu, make your own bread pastry etc. High volume places as cheflayne says are about organization, speed and doing things efficiently. saying that if you haven't done a high volume place it might be good thing to do it for an experience. I have done it all exept Michelin star restaurant and never regretted any of them. Actually to call yourself a chef I recon one had to of done a high volume place
 
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Joined Dec 29, 2019
Those of you who have worked both, what are your insights? What are the pros and cons of each? Which route would you suggest people new to the profession experience first and why? What was your journey? Would you change it at all?
I started in a small pastry cafe, the chef was from Paris and very talented, after 5 years I moved to french restaurants, yrs later i tried hotels, kinda sad.
The cooks couldn't cook, the bakers were hopelessly untrained, I was at the Ritz, Meridien and Hilton, they all suck. The Meridien had a french staff, they still had little training, lots of knowledge and educated palates but poor training.

If you start out in hotels you will be stuck there, not so bad if you're more interested in benefits such as health Ins and retirement plans. At that point you'd be better off doing roofs or plumbing.
I originally wanted to be a plumber, I attended plumbing school but couldn't find a plumber willing to hire an apprentice, so I ended up in the patisserie. First 6 months, washing dishes, mopping and greasing cake pans for no pay, then 5 years apprenticeship.
 
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My journey was, Managing Catering/banquet Halls, Fast service three meal a day place, Fine dining, in Hawaii-- then Washington State for Steak house, Hotel F&B, Colliseum Food management/Chef and two private clubs that I started being a Manager Chef. Then contract Management for Employee Cafes and Corp Catering.......Then I started two Management Companies in two different States and a, Catering Business...... I think starting in Catering helped me the most......I was able to see and learn many things in a short period of time.......

I think everyone new should work a fairly busy breakfast line....It's good to know what " NOW" really means......Lunch is no big deal any place......A new person needs time to work all the stations in a Simi Fine dining or find dining restaurant......Good experience also would be working the broiler in a Steak House...........Chefbillyb
 
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My journey took me to the large hotel chains. I worked for Hyatt, Hilton, the Marriott, I liked the structured corporation system back then. Cooks couldn't boil water and I ended up in the fine dining and banquet departments every time. When the lead day cook went on vacation, I was always asked to step in.
I don't do well in small places simply because my training usually puts me at odds with the owners.
Many people will agree with me that just because someone owns a restaurant, doesn't mean they know how to cook.
 

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