how do I get started?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by something more, Apr 7, 2004.

  1. something more

    something more

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    Hey I'm new to this message board and I'm excited to have an outlet for my questions and ideas. My big question is simply how do I get started? I fervently want to be a chef, but I don't have any cooking schools in my area. I would like to give private lessons to groups or individuals. Is there anything I need to know about doing this? and what's the best way to get my foot in the swinging door to the kitchen?
     
  2. artameates

    artameates

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    Please dont say that! being a chef is has extreme highs and lows, with relation to your state of mind and outlook on life. The first thing you should do is apply at every restaurant as a dishwasher. That is the lowest rung. Once in a while you may get to make desserts, then appatizers. See if you can handle working in the dish pit for 1 month. Dont (potentially) waste money on school. Cooking is one of the easiest fields to get started in without experience. ****, they hire any degenerate to wash dishes.
    Only the tough survive.
    Ride the crest. The high water mark is coming.
     
  3. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

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    I agree! Start off as a dishwasher/busboy/janitor/prep/runner.Then you can realy see if you want to do this for a living.Also this experience will give you more than any school could give you now.If you get hooked on this biz than school is something to work for and enjoy. Good luck my friend, Doug........
     
  4. iwillbeachef

    iwillbeachef

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    Hey guys.
    I am also looking to get into the industry. As a matter of fact i couldnt imagin doing anything else. I have spoken to several chefs of high quality restaurants and i am getting the same advice all the time. Go out there and offer to put in some free work for them. Do it for a month, a year even. But i think you will find alot of the high quality restaurants and hotels dont tend to advertise, so get in there and make your name known. Ps guys any advice for me would be greatly appreciated. Im in australia and trying to decide on where abouts i want to do my apprenticeship.
     
  5. baker1

    baker1

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    I started as apprentice to a pastry chef from Paris, I stayed in the sink for 6 months, then started helping out with the baking, after 5 yrs I had some ability.
    Then I started a cooking apprenticeship, after a few more yrs I took on sous chef jobs. After 20 yrs I opened a french restaurant, now I am into catering.
    That was my experience, it was a lot of fun , I was in no rush to be a chef, I still think it takes 10 yrs regardless which path is taken.

    It might help to want to be a good cook first, there are some chefs who are not very good cooks. So I'd say, relax, enjoy the experience and learn to cook, the rest will come in time.
    Work with the absolute very best, they are impressed with humility in a person, not a degree.
     
  6. chefmikesworld

    chefmikesworld

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    My line is...

    "I didn't become a good chef by being a shi**y dishwasher..."

    I have been in the industry for over twenty years now, with a hiatus here and there to dwell in other interests but always wind up back. For the past 10 years I have been more serious about the industry I have ever been, have been Exec at some nice places from hotels to bed and breakfast's to Mom and Pop finer dining places to Convention Centers...

    The last resume I sent out?
    To be a dishwasher for one of the most phenomonal chefs in the Southeast...
    Why?
    Because I am willing to work for nothing to become a better culinarian and this Chef I think would take the humble world of Chef Mike and make him a more desireable commodity on the market and take him to his next level of Chefliness....

    Never stop learning....when you think that you can't learn anymore in this industry is when you need to find another career...

    Just the Tao in/with the CheffyBoy
     
  7. anneke

    anneke

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    I don't mean to offend anyone who started out their career as a dishwasher, but I'd have to disagree. If you want to be a chef, set your goals high. Don't aim for the bottom. It's a disservice to yourself. If you can, try applying for a prep cook job, use whatever restaurant connections you have. Even if it's not a five diamond hotel, the experience will get you a better cooking job at a more respectable establishment later on.

    Dishwashing is important, and should not be underestimated. When you become a chef, you too will have to do the dishes from time to time. But at the beginning of your career, it simply won't teach you how to cook. I think back to all the restaurants/hotels I've worked in. In non of these establishments would it have been a positive to start in the dish pit. Of course, maybe things are different in the US. Just my 2 cents..
     
  8. mikeb

    mikeb

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    I'd say just apply to every restaurant you can. Don't apply as a dishwasher, leave it open to doing whatever they need, but if they want you to start out washing dishes then that's what you got to do (as long as you make it clear your goal is to eventually cook). I never was a 'dishwasher' (although every once in awhile I ended up washing dishes), so I don't think it's necessary.

    I'd also like to say good luck - working in a kitchen can be very stressful (depends alot on the place, volume, etc...) and the starting wages are horrible... Just dig in and work your way to the top, try to learn something new everyday, and make sure you always keep that passion...(there are many days you'll just want to say f--- it and quit...)
     
  9. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    " I don't mean to offend anyone who started out their career as a dishwasher, but I'd have to disagree. If you want to be a chef, set your goals high. Don't aim for the bottom "

    How is starting at the begining, the bottom? When I grill a salmon filet, I turn the grill on first. I feel that Chefs that have worked every station in a restaurant, both FOH and BOH, have the advantage because they know exactly what the person working that station today are experiencing. I have a tendency to listen to people that have been there, done that, and bought the tee shirt. I don't go to travel agents for trip planning, because most haven't traveled to the locations I am considering, so what can they really know?
     
  10. anneke

    anneke

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    I don't entirely disagree. But for most people posting these questions, they are trying to figure out if this is something they actually would want to do for a living. Working in the dishpit won't help you do that. My point is not so much that dishwashing is the bottom; it's quite a different animal altogether.

    As a cook, I've had lots of opportunities for dishwashing. I never denigrated it or thought it was somehow below me. We all have to do it, whether we startted out as a pot washer or not.
     
  11. chef heather

    chef heather

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    How I agree!! :chef: :chef: Especially as a WOMAN in this industry! Work as a dishwasher?? Eeek!! Assinine!! Unacceptable!! UNECESSARY!! I got a job working garde manger for SEVERAL excellent restaurants by writing GREAT cover letters with my resumes. Get your writing and begging skills in GEAR and you'll shine like a new nickel in a goat's AZZ!! :bounce: Try it!!
     
  12. chefmikesworld

    chefmikesworld

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    Oh boy, here he is again with the CheffyMouth...

    A couple comments...

    First, I wash dishes everyday...and I am the Exec of two kitchens, a catering kitchen and a bakery...I sanitize and deep clean in my kitchens as well...

    Why?

    Because I am a team player and although my administrative work takes me out of the kitchen quite frequently, when I am in the kitchen I am in the trenches of where ever I need to be, not as the boss man but as the captain of a team...

    For those that beleive that dishwashing/dishwashers is/are degenerate, look at the machine as a whole---the position is just a bolt in the whole machine, sometimes when we have problems of that one bolt, it can disrupt the entire mechanism of who we are and what we do, not to mention how disruptive it can be when that bolt is missing altogether...

    Layne had a good point...I grill a salmon by turning on the grill first

    Peace, Hugs and Cookies,
    Cheffy
    en route to Puerto Vallarta's Gourmet Festival
     
  13. t.haws

    t.haws

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    Geez, this elitist atitude about the dishstation! So you're above it, or its not necessary to be a chef? Maybe so, but if you haven't been there , how can you understand it? Why stoop to apply at the salad station, just go straight for the head chef position, or go straight to foodnetwork and get your own show. Why waste time with experience, its overrated. And the dishstation is a vital part of the kitchen brigade, one weak link brings the whole team down.
     
  14. t.haws

    t.haws

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    What does being a woman in the profession have to do with it?
     
  15. ironchefatl

    ironchefatl

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    As a CMDW (Certified Master Dishwasher) I would have to say that it is one of my faveorite positions. It is not a dirty job. Its a clean job! It seems that everybody always has the wrong idea about it. I love to scrub floors too. Bleach and soap everywhere then rinsing it with the hose and squeegie. After sweating over a grill over sautee burners all night, it is fun to do something that is not stressful. (plus all the real dishwashers will chop your vegetables for you, and bring you pans and tools since you help them). My other favorite thing about cleaning the floor is that when I am done my shoes are clean too, even all that junk stuck in the tread is gone, so you dont have to worry about getting it in your car.

    Oh and I had to add that it is also a great place to start, because you will be able to see the entire staff working and learn more about what is going on with all the stations, as well as FOH.
     
  16. ironchefde

    ironchefde

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    :D Hmm wash dishes everyday!!!!!! I have been in and out of this industry for 20 years, walked away from a great apprenticeship 20 years ago. Now back into it you have be passionate, dedicated and a little bit of luck, and schoo;l doesnt hurt . I just got a great job a 3+ STAR RESTERAUNT AS A SOUS CHEF. Apply every where and when the right fit comes on take and run with it. But you have topay your dues

    Good luck
    Roger
     
  17. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    Well, I started as a dishdog, but I was just a kid. I did it because I needed a p/t job. I can't say it's the best way to get started if you're driven and serious, but it got my foot in the door and taught me how to work. Plus, if you can't hack it as a disher for a few months, you maybe aren't cut out for the kitchen.

    One thing I learned early on as a disher was that it's easier to bust *** and get the job done than wander around trying to look busy. That lesson was one of the most important things I've ever learned - and not everyone does learn it. :rolleyes:
     
  18. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    "One thing I learned early on as a disher was that it's easier to bust *** and get the job done than wander around trying to look busy."
    So very true. I never thought about it but maybe that is the reason that I can bust *** today. In the dish station, if you wait for the dishes to go away or for someone else to clean them...it ain't gonna happen!!!
     
  19. ma facon

    ma facon

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    Close your eyes and say to yourself this is what I want to do , Remember what you saw when your eyes were closed , OPEN YOUR EYES !!! Now follow what you saw and thought !!! No better recipe in the world .................................................. ............................................. :chef: