How did you guys start in the kitchen??

Joined Apr 11, 2013
I know this thread has been created and it isnt the first nor the last time i think this will be asked. 

But i want an update especially because so many new chefs, cooks,bakers and culinary students (etc...) have been coming into the site. 

Plus im just so curious , so many great contributors to this site and sometimes so many personal stories are shared. 

Plus the past threads relating to this topic are a bit old, and not so recent. 


How did you guys end up in this industry? How did you guys get started???

Share some stories please !!   /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
Joined Feb 22, 2016
Hello, My dad was a country club manager. when i was 8~ we lived in a house on the 18th rough.  so if my mother and dad wanted to go out, the night watchman at the club was my baby sitter.  i was always in the kitchen.  then i caddied for a few years.  then a dishwasher and then a bus boy.  white shirt and bow tie.  then worked as line cook and moved up from there.  Whats interesting is my dad worked in two of the best hotels in the city.  back in the 30's 40's.  at one hotel in the kitchen,  my dad had 4 sisters who work in the kitchen plus a uncle as a chef.  then front of the house..waiter was my dad and his brother and the younger brother was a bus boy.  as the sisters got married they quit.  my dad then went to the other city club/hotel w/ the one brother and he was Maitre d' till he got a country club job.  and along with him was a sister in law who worked w/ him for 25 years as the Hostess.  

Joined Dec 23, 2004
Accidentally./img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif   I was 14 and really tired of working for my dad (construction) for basically an allowance.  So I got a dishwashing job.  I couldn't believe you could earn "so much money" for simply dishing!  I mean, no tossing hay bales, no carrying bundles of shingles, no handing sheetrock or trowling cement...even the kitchen and dishroom were pretty cool & comfy compared to putting on hot tar roofs in the middle of the summer.  Eventually I got pulled from dish to give breaks in the kitchen, which lead to a few shifts a week on the line, which lead to my first line cooking job. 

Bear in mind I thought I'd be an engineer when I grew up, or possibly a physicist.  But when that didn't magically happen I found that I actually liked cooking a lot.  Eventually I wound up stepping up to temporarily run a kitchen where the chef was fired (mostly because I had been doing the bulk of his work for a couple years); things got better under my care so the job became permanent.  I wound up kind of being a troubleshooter after that, going from property to property and helping them get struggling kitchens back on track.

I joke all the time that Chef is one of the few jobs one can accidentally get!/img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif   I never thought that what's I'd wind up doing with my life but a few decades into it I can't imagine doing anything else.
Joined Dec 18, 2010
Like Phaedrus I get tired of being child labor in construction. I really should thank my best friends Dad for giving me my first real job, but I was never cut out for that kind of labor. So my older brother got me hired at the fast food joint he worked at. Within my first week he got fired and I got intensive training by a former Marine in how a restaurant should work. He had no respect for my fun-loving brothers lack of responsibility so gave me "intensive intervention". I moved up to management and then opened a place that would now be considered fast-casual while in college. Several degrees later I got out of the restaurant business and into engineering. Every once in a while I consult or invest; Someday I'd like to return to the restaurant business.
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Joined Aug 21, 2004
I was in my fourth year of architecture when I decided it wasn't quite for me. I decided to take a little break from school until I could figure out what I wanted to change my major to. I went out to the Rocky Mountain National Park for the summer in order to backpack and clear my head. I took a job as dishwasher because it offered room and board... The rest as they say is history... I am still washing dishes but my duties have expanded a bit.
Joined Oct 10, 2005

I hated wearing glasses...

Seriously, I had been wezring glasses since around 8 years old. By the time I was 16 I was screaming for contact lenses. Parents said if you want them what's stopping you from earning some money to buy them yourself?

In the town I grew up in, in the late '70's, there was only two types of restaurnts, Greek or Chinese. I got myfirst job washing dishes in grade 10, and kept at it until after grade 12. Then I got serious and started in prep and then salads. But like many others, I still do dishes......
Joined May 14, 2014
When I was just turned 21, had quit my first job at a corner store(seen clerks?), and was broke and out of work, a guy I used to buy weed from got me a christmas seasonal job as a prep cook(probably so I wouldn't be so broke). Well, he quit on my third day, then his roomate quit, and I got to keep my job! I did a crappy job for them for a year, decided to go to culinary at a CC nearby, got a job at a diner that worked around my schedule. I didn't really start doing dishes regularly 'till I was management :)
Joined Mar 23, 2016
Started a welding apprenticeship when i finished school, hated it which showed as i was let off by multiple companies from having no interest and having dozens of sick days a year, after 5 years i had only gotten 3 years of the trade finished.
So i left that then went into geotechnics, hated that, after maybe 7 years of doing jobs i didnt want to do, i droped everything and moved to canada to become a ski bum, picked up a dish washing job in the resort i was at, moved up to a line cook then to a line coach, 

at the end of my visa i looked back on how much fun i'd had, i had not had 1 single sick day, never late, always early, realised that this was where my future was. 

so moved back to australia and started my apprenticeship straight away which was around 5 months ago today. some people have told me an apprenticeship isnt the right way to do go, but what ever keeps me in a kitchen where i am learning keeps me happy.
Joined Feb 24, 2015
Looking quite a while into the past,I would have to say, it was written in my stars :)

The town I grew up did not have much in the way of entertaining a young 14 year old who had a growing curiosity for the city. On my 15th birthday my father told me, seeing how bored and unhappy I was, that he'd send me to live with my grand parents for a year on trial. They loved just outside of Geneva.

The first few weeks were great, but soon I learned that without spare change in your pocket there was not much to do here either.

I started jobbing on the weekends and weeknights in a small Italian restaurant. Within a few months the owner asked me to do more and more aside from washing dishes.

I started helping out in the kitchen, doing prep, and began to enjoy the camaraderie that was the kitchen in those days. After a long dinner service I'd get to hang out with the kitchen crew, tour the city and just live in the moment.

Needless to say, my grades were failing in school (oops) and before long my father tried to get me back (apparently the restaurant scene was a bad influence).

Well - I stayed.

It was not till a few years later (around the time I was 20) that I actually took cooking seriously.

Some 40 odd years later - still at it (and yes, I also still wash dishes/img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif) 


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
I grew up in the business.  My father has done many things in life, teacher, preacher, chorale director, organist, Minister of Music, chef and restaurant owner, and a few other things.  I remember some of my dad's stints the food business from when I was a very young kid-hanging out in those kitchens learning a thing or 2.  My parents then owned a restaurant for a few years, opening the place when I was 8 years old.  I would often wash dishes, make tossed salads, bus tables, and my favorite job-keeping a fire burning in the wood fireplace during the winter evenings.

I didn't work many restaurant jobs in high school although I had a few, but I bounced around in college and every time I quit I ended up back in the restaurant world.  Finally, I gave into the call and enrolled in culinary school and have been involved in food service since then.

But even beyond that, I grew up in a family where food was really important.  Most of my earliest and fondest memories revolve around food and celebrations were food played an important role.
Joined Jan 17, 2015
I started as a pot wash 25 years ago...this is why I always try and do well by my KP's. There is always people sucking up to the boss and looking after the managers but pot wash people don't get much attention. and they do a dirty, hard job making it easier for all of us chefs. So look after yours, and I would like every chef to spend at least a week working as a KP just to see how it is....
Joined Mar 31, 2016
By chance for me! I was moving to a new area, needed any part time job that I could easily get to as I don't drive and found a relief position as kitchen assistant, carer and housekeeper. Got dragged straight to the kitchen as they were really short and after a while when the Head Cook desperately needed someone to cover one of her shifts I offered to do it. No experience, nothing. It's all fairly easy basic stuff, just home cooking on a larger scale. The shifts I did for her went well and they offered me the permanant contracted hours Cook position. 10 months later I'm loving it and now just starting to introduce some changes I think need to be made. 
Joined Oct 31, 2012
As a teenager with no direction, Mom dropped me off at 8am Saturday morning with instructions to walk down the busiest local commercial ave and apply at every single location or no dinner (about thirty businesses of all kinds). Tough talk from a milk and cookies Mom. 

     Next day the big 24 hr restaurant called, busboy broke his arm, could I fill in? Ended up busboy/dishwasher for the summer till senior year then back in spring for about six months. While dishing, I watched grill cook transform the wet, unappetizing looking pieces of fish into delicious looking entrees over and over. I found that a fascinating process.  Started helping the baker.  He let me make the baklava one day. Owner was a classic restaurateur, always on top of everything, nice guy but no nonsense, great host and boss.  When he wouldn't let me become a cook I moved on to a different place but had already decided culinary school was the logical next step. 

  So I guess it was fate. Any of the places could have called but the restaurant did. 
Joined Apr 16, 2016
I was fortunate enough to be hanging out in a kitchen at 11. I was riding my bicycle in the parking lot of the restaurant across the street from my house. The owners son came out, who was 16. we started talking and next thing I know I'm hanging out in the kitchen. At that time I just got to stir the marinara sauce and paint garlic bread and stuff like that.The best part weas they were listing to the grateful dead and from there I was hooked to both the kitchen scene and the GD. They took me under their wings and showed me the light. I'm still grateful to this day, no pun intended, lol. At 16 I started working there legally and started in the dish pit. I worked my up to cook and worked there all through high school. The rest is history and a long strange trip...../img/vbsmilies/smilies/smoking.gif
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