How do I find a mom and pop place looking for a chef?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by chefchrisd, May 20, 2012.

  1. chefchrisd

    chefchrisd

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    Hey guys.

    I'm 28 and I've been in the industry for about 15 years now. Currently I'm a sous chef in Phoenix and I have a pretty great resume. Where I am at currently, there is not much opportunity for advancement, only pay raises. The next place I would want to work is to work at a nice little mom and pop restaurant as the head chef. Think... the kind of place you see on Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares... lol. The postings on craigslist for chef are far and few between, and are generally for resorts and larger operations. Not much going on on the other job websites either. How would I go about finding a place like this? I almost want to print out 100 resumes and stop by every mom and pop restaurant around, but is there a better way?

    Thanks for your time,

    Chris Dickson
     
  2. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Actually this is the best way to start.  However don't do a random 100 places... eat at a place, peek in the doors to the kitchen if you can and then decide.

    Finding the right MnP is the hard part some just don't want change / new help and you'll likely never fit in.  

    Those looking for change are likely not going to have the money to match your resume, so you'll have to make concessions.

    - accept less pay as long as you get free-reign (within a pre-set budget / man hours)

    - accept that things might have to be less than perfect in order to make ends meet.  Not enough equipment / product or personnel.   

    However The Biggest Thing i've found is finding the right personality match between the owner and yourself.  That is the key.

    I was the Chef at a MnP for about 3 years...turned the place completely around.   Grew sales from 3 digits a night to 5... seriously the till was in the hundreds when I started and in the 10's of thousands after 3 years.  

    Sadly I had never really 'clicked' with the owners or made a connection, so when the business became profitable they simply didn't include any compensation for me or even really any recognition. It was kind of like 'well, ya we hired you to fix the place... so you're only doing your job'  

    After pestering a bit they finally gave me a raise... 2 years later, and shortly after they hired a 'new' guy to take over... called a Kitchen Manager.   The atmosphere became pretty bad so I started dropping hints that I was going to move on... they seemed to get the hint and once I found the next job I just left.  They didn't write me any letters or anything but gave a positive reference on the phone.

    I can't really say that the owners were at fault nor myself, it's just that we didn't communicate clearly from the start and never really grew our relationship.   

    (sorry it kinda sounds like dating advice ... but it's probably the same (LOL))

    Now I'm the Sous at a larger and more diverse place, the atmosphere, working conditions and hours are great.   The owners are fair and engaged but at the same time the chef will likely retire in about oh say about another 15 years! And I can't really expect any upwards movement until then.  But I work a steady 35-45 hours a week, get 2 days off usually (not in a row) and have a few benefits.  

    Will I be here in 15 years... really hard to say.  I'm not learning much, we do specials everyday that we get to play with but the food cost has to be relatively low.  Advancement, well not really until someone else decides to move.  Pay, they seem to think a dime a year isn't bad... sheesh, however it's balanced by the fact that I know what profit per plate they are making; so I understand and can swallow it a bit easier.  The place is busier than ever and we rarely have a slow night, I like the people that I work with but it still is hard to say "I'll be here for another 15 years!"

    Truth Immortal :   Time will tell.
     
  3. foodpump

    foodpump

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    M & P looking for a Chef?

    Why do you think they are Mom and Pops?  Either M or P is in the kitchen, their turf, and the partner is foh.  They don't need a Chef, they ARE the Chef.   M & P's looking for cooks, yes, dishwasher, yes, but not a Chef.

    Also, all depending on the area you live in, employees are a liability, not an asset.  This is one of the major reasons M  & P's choose to stay small. 
     
  4. iceman

    iceman

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    WOW. M'n'P places looking for a Chef is kinda like finding a "Holy Grail" sorta. Good luck with that. My first two(2) places were M'n'Ps, and that was great until attrition hit. Anyway ... maybe widen your loop to include bars with kitchens, bowling alleys and diners next to or very near to movie theaters. That is nice work too when you can get it. 
     
  5. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    I agree it matters not what they call you, what matters is how they treat you,

    their attitude toward you and the job you do. I've seen small private/couple

    owned restaurants who are flailing their limbs trying to stay open, hire a good

    cook/chef and treat them like theyre an angel sent unto them from Heaven.....

    and have also experienced what Michael described, you turn the place around,

    gain a huge following, put the place's reputation at the top, and generally work your

    a** off doing it, only to have them walk in one day with their  son,daughter/brother,

    cousin who will "take over from here" with out even a severance offered. Oh and

    "we're going to be using your recipes, since theyre sort of already on our menu".

    Point is, you're not so much interviewing the place or menu or clientele as

    interviewing the owners--it's all about compatible personalities.

    So if you dont get a good "vibe" the minute you walk in, save yourself some time

    and move on to the next one.

    Oh and if they do want you, but won't show you the kitchen til you "sign on"......

    --R--U--N--

    --Meez
     
  6. chefchrisd

    chefchrisd

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    How do you feel about e-mails? Too impersonal or brief and to the point?
     
  7. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Did you not read the thread?

    MnP's are all about personalities and getting a relationship that works.

    Would you send out 1000 emails to random people in the hope that you will find a GF/BF/Spouse etc.?

    The Chef / Owner relationship really is that personnel, minus the exchange of bodily fluids.
     
  8. chefross

    chefross

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    Perhaps in your neck of the woods.....but there are many examples of "M&P's" all across America that are filled with non-family employees and the owners...  "Mom and Pop"... are clueless how the place should be run, and.........in many cases....don't know enough, to know, what they don't know.

    As to the original post.....this is something that needs you research.

    Things like travel brochures, hotel websites, "Travelosity, Priceline, Orbizt, can give you links to small resaturants. B&B's, and Inns, that might be independently owned and operated. You then could at least have a name and number to do the rest.
     
  9. meezenplaz

    meezenplaz

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    Hmm I dunnooooo, that seems a pretty popular pasttime online these days.

    (I sorry, couldn't resist! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif  )
     
  10. rbandu

    rbandu

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    Back in the day I worked for a "Mom and Pop" place, Italian joint.  Opened in 1919, still have the recipes in my head.  It all depends on the owner(s).  I worked for a man that to many seemed "wretched, offensive, vulgar and a slob."  When he finally gave me control of the kitchen, there was little to be done, everyone was programmed to do things a certain way.  Most of the heavy prep I had to do, because that's what he'd been doing.  120 gallons of tomato sauce every 2 days, sausage sauce, prime rib, beef stock, turkey stock (we cooked our own turkeys for sandwiches), gravies, demi, everything.  He died last August and his brother took over.  As I understand they have one reliable cook now, which they pay $12/hr, after almost 20 years of devoted service.  2 Under-cooks,at less than than that.  A job's a job but really?  Really? 
     
  11. leeniek

    leeniek

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    I agree it's about how you interact with the owners.   When I was hired on at the diner, I was interviewed by the husband, and hired by him... had I met the wife I would never have taken the job.  She and I were very different personalities and had very different ways of handling things.  They were looking for my replacement, and planned to keep me on until they found someone and I decided that I'd had enough and for the first time in my life quit "effective immediately" via email.  In the end it was a  learning experience to say the very least!  Interestingly enough they were featured on the FoodNetwork a few months ago and there's been huge hype around the place but from what I've heard and read it's not living up to the hype at all and the owner actually lied on TV about how they make their food!
     
  12. foodpump

    foodpump

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    I guess it all depends on how you define a Mom and Pop.

    For me, it is a place with only two employees...

    Anything larger is "family run".
     
  13. duckfat

    duckfat

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    Why would any one with a solid resume set their sight on working for a M&P?

    Is this just to gain the title "Chef" from Sous chef? Titles mean very little if the work load and pay is not equal to the title. I'd rather be a Sous Chef or lead for a CMC in a big kitchen than the "chef" of  a diner or coney Island.

    If you meant family owned independent operations then you can certainly get a list of those who are most profitable and use that as guide.

    If your dream truly is to work at a bowling alley or M&P go for it but it usually involves working for peanuts in sub-standard kitchens.

    What ever you do do your best and be professional but a resume might be a bit of over kill for true M&P's.

    Dave
     
  14. iceman

    iceman

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    OK. I'm not arguing the point here, but working in the right M&P place is a dream job. When I did it, I made my own menu and created my own place out of it, with the M&P just owning and running the show (read: paying the bills and covering the ownership responsibilities). As for running a bowling alley kitchen, well that's a whole different game. The key is location. A good alley in the near vicinity of an industrial or business complex is the best. If you do it right, you can have a continuous flock of blue-collar lunch-bucket working-stiffs filling your tables every afternoon. If you can knock off a good $6-$10 "blue-plate special" type lunch menu, you are made-in-the-shade. The trick is all in keeping them coming back day after day. Sure, go ahead and tell me about how all that is easy to do. Talk is cheap. All the places I've worked in had just fine kitchens. What exactly are you looking for anyway? I had regular pro stoves, convection ovens, fryers, flat-tops, grills, steamers and microwaves. Pay was pay, standard rates. LOL. There is an entire TV series built around showing off places like these. 
     
  15. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Hey!  I resemble that remark..../img/vbsmilies/smilies/smiles.gif

    We've been a M & P for about 5 years now.  I usually get 1 student from the local C.C.  every year, and another student from A.I. every year, each student for about 2 weeks.

    It's always 1 on 1 with them, from candying fruits, to all doughs and pastry work, to ganaches, enrobing, molding, seasonal choc. figures, and cakes.

    Some of us M & P's actually kow what we're doing....

    We choose to be small and focus on quality and indivuality, rather than on volume. 
     
  16. duckfat

    duckfat

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    Those poor kids are going to be twisted for life. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

    I can think of a number of very good independent shops especially if we splinter off to bakeries or pastry shops. I can't think of many that hire Chefs with the exception of seasonal help in tourist driven markets.

    Dave
     
  17. lbgchris

    lbgchris

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    Can't boil water
    rrrrrr
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2012
  18. chefchrisd

    chefchrisd

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    Thanks for all of the responses. I did end up e-mailing my resume out to about 40 different places and got some replies, nothing too positive yet.

    I'm looking to run my own kitchen and develop my own menu and turn around a restaurant in a good location with an even better reputation based on my food. Some people elect to work in resorts for pennies and move up, I'd rather be creative and potentially make less and take the road less traveled.

    I don't know about a bowling alley. I don't need to be prestigious but...