How do I become a line cook?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by elliot782, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. elliot782

    elliot782

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Other
    So I want to get some advice on what I should do to become a line cook.

    But first, a little bit about myself and my experience. Im 20 and I live in nj a train ride away from NYC. after attending college for 2 years I've decided to drop out and take my life in a different direction. I've always loved cooking my whole life and always somewhat considered doing it professionally but I never seriously considered it until now.

    Since I wasn't liking school and I decided I had to find something else to do with my life. I feel like I have to commit to something and stick with it, or else I will never get anywhere. I initially considered doing masonry since I've worked in masonry/construction throughout my life but I decided against it due to the very inconsistent pay and just lack of work these days. So I opened up my mind to other ideas like seriously considering professional cooking. I've always loved cooking and food my whole life ever since I was a little boy. I always thought about becoming a cook but I always thought it would be too hard due to weird hours and extreme pressure/stress. Though recently I've had a change of heart towards the idea. After reading Anthony bourdain's 'kitchen confidential' I have become very inspired to become a cook. His book made me realize the extreme similarities between professional cooking and professional masonry (which I loved doing). I love the physical labor, the extreme attention to detail, the toughness required, the blue collar work, the zen like work of doing something repeatedly like moving block or peeling potatoes etc... I want to become a craftsmen, and to me professional cooking is a craft.

    Luckily I do have some culinary experience. I've worked as a dishwasher at a very good and well respected Italian restaurant so I'm familiar with what it's like in a kitchen. I did everything u expect out of a dishwasher. I even got to help prep a couple times. I loved the rush of having to go through an insane dinner rush on fri or sat cranking out tray after tray of dishes through the machine. Unfortunately this was only a summer job 2 years ago while I was in between freshman and sophomore year of college (I now kick myself for leaving there). I also currently work at panera bread which I know... hardly counts as food. But I still count it because atleast I am gaining some experience in terms of dealing with (extremely light) pressure. We do go through dinner and lunch rushes where everyone is flying around on the line making rudimentary "assemble step by step" sandwhiches and salads with everything else we do. I'm basically thinking of panera as using training wheels to train for a real restaurant.

    I'm planning to stay for maybe a couple more months just to save money and take care of some personal financial things as I prepare for the transition. In the mean time I'm trying to devour anything I can get my hands on about cooking and the ins and outs of being a line cook. I'm thinking to apply at some good restaraunts in my area as a dishwasher and move up the ladder from dish to prep to line. I'm not 100% if this is the best plan possible but I think if I work very hard, go the extra mile and do everything I can hopefully it will work. Im ready for the 12+hr shifts I'm ready for the 6 days a week I'm ready for the cuts burns and aches of it all. I just need a chef that will take me under his wing and guide me a little. If you've read this far, thank you. Any input is greatly appreciated. :)

    Ps: as to cullinary school, it seems like a waste of (a shit tone of) money. at the fancy Italian restaraunt I worked at I remember all the line cooks were these Mexican dudes who could hardly speak English. Most if not all of them were illegals and I'm sure as hell guessing they didn't go to culinary school. They were complete badasses on the line without ever attending school, all they did to get to where they are is work as hard as a mother fucker. My readings of kitchen confidential and other readings online only confirm this notion. If they can do it, why not me?
     
  2. frankie007

    frankie007

    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    27
    Exp:
    professional chef over 20 years
    There are lots of posts on here about the question you asked so if you do a search you will find a lot of good advice from the cooking community. If you have done washing up in a restaurant then you know what to expect. I wouldn't go back to dishwasher, try and start as a commis chef. Make yourself presentable and turn up in a restaurant you fancy early in the morning and offer to do a trial shift. All you need is a couple of knives and a pair of balls. Just don't come back here and complain about how everybody is treating you like a bitch because they will. If I was hiring and you turned up, clean, sober, eager to learn with the right attitude and went about what I told you to do quickly and efficiently I would give you a chance. About you reading about stuff before you start I am not sure how useful that is as you will find out there is no substitute for experience. I do appreciate when young chefs like food, eating, produce, etc as it shows me they are interested. What I don't like is people being late, loud, disruptive.....Pay attention, little notebook for recipes might come handy,keep your mouth shut and you eyes open and you will be fine. Now man up and go and do it!
     
  3. elliot782

    elliot782

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Other
    Thank you, I was slowly starting to suspect coming back as a dishwasher would be a bad idea. Showing up on time and keeping my mouth shut/staying out of the way is no problem. So specifically I should just show up, tell them I want to work in the kitchen and tell them I'll work a day for free as a trial?
     
  4. frankie007

    frankie007

    Messages:
    145
    Likes Received:
    27
    Exp:
    professional chef over 20 years
    Yes I would do that, or write to them, you might have to do a few places.....another thing I haven't worked in US but if all the chefs are Mexican you will need some basic Spanish, maybe you can get started on that