LINE COOKS!!!????

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by cowboy, Oct 1, 2013.

  1. cowboy

    cowboy

    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    How is that culinary schools are graduating out 100's of people a quarter but it seems like I have to go through 100 to get 1.  Sometimes I feel it would be faster to train a green pea than go through all the interviewing!!

    Another thing that chaps my hide is when you do hire a new graduate and the first day they want to stand in my kitchen and tell me how to cook but can't list off something as simple as their mother sauces or know what a buerre blanc is!

    If I had hair I would probably pull it out!!!!!

    Every now and then you do find that one that makes it all worth it.  I just got a guy whose only answer is yes chef...I could tell him to stand on one foot when you cut carrots because it makes them taste better and he would it!

    I need 10 more of him!!!
     
  2. mikeswoods

    mikeswoods

    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    One in a hundred sounds about right----Most fresh graduates aren't worth minimum wage----

    All theory and no real world experience----

    I had three that only worked until their first break and then vanished----

    One told me a certain dish couldn't be made without a Bain Marie pan---

    Another grabbed my best 14" chefs knife and started bashing it against the back of my carving knife--He said this 'trick' worked to sharpen a knife------If murder was legal I would have slit his throat--
     
  3. ras1187

    ras1187

    Messages:
    633
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    I don't consider myself the best line cook, but I definitely think I hold my own up in the kitchens I work in. When one of our good cooks leaves, I am genuinely happy for them to move onto better things, but I think now about the monstrous task of finding and training people. I originally thought that in a city as big as Chicago, there would be a deeper talent pool to dig into as opposed to other places, but it just seems like you have to dig through even more people to find that right 1 person.

    It is amusing to see a fresh culinary grad walk in like they're the best thing ever, and ask for an outrageous $16/hr to do prep work that they are not even that efficient at. They get absolutely shocked when they are informed that the starting rate is much much lower than that. Of course they walk away, and I am happy as I see nothing but high maintenance babysitting in the future with them.

    Even with nice kitchens on their resume, I am still wary of everyone. Ran into a stage that could make encapsulated hollandaise cubes from one of those molecular gastronomy places, but could not make simple hollandaise to save his life. Had another one ask me the difference between white distilled, white balsamic, and champagne vinegar. Had one more ask to borrow my thermometer so he could check to see if his pork chop finally hit 210*. Had one more that staged for a few days at a 3* restaurant and was suddenly a walking expert on food, confirming that everything that everyone else did was definitively wrong on his first day.
     
  4. chefbuba

    chefbuba

    Messages:
    2,219
    Likes Received:
    480
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    It's always going to be like that. When I was doing movie catering, had a guy come out first day, only to observe, we paid them $100 to stand around and watch. This guy had an impressive pedigree , worked with Wolfgang at Spago, etc. didn't make it till lunch, just disappeared.
    The best cooks I had we're a husband and wife from El Salvador, they worked with me for six years and are still there 15 yrs later.
     
  5. linecook854

    linecook854

    Messages:
    282
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    Head Chef
    In regards to culinary grads, yes I agree, they generally suck terribly. I have only worked with one grad who was worth his weight, the rest were know it all's (who really didn't know anything) and could not get the simplest of tasks completed. THE WORST GRADS ARE FROM LCB! I literally want to pull my hair out when one of these kids stage, LCB must remove half of their brain matter before graduating because these kids are simply borderline bread-dead. I would rather pick any dishwasher to get a task done, they'd do it better and faster and not lecture me on how it should be done.

    As for finding good line cooks, it is a monstrous task especially in the suburbs. I've been looking for a grill cook for 8 months now. I am not looking for a superstar, just somebody with half an brain, a sack, and the ability to cook a steak correctly. I'm thinking now these people do not exist. Chain line cooks are the only ones applying and they do not have a clue when they stage, look at me like I have 3 heads when I ask them to season a steak. "So like you want salt and pepper on all the steaks or just the one you showed me?" "Can I drop that pork chop (it was an english cut lamb chop BTW) in the fryer when the grill gets busy?" "So ummm, I slice it then rest it?"
     
  6. soesje

    soesje

    Messages:
    396
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Jeez.

    It's really hard to believe when you read this......

    I am a line cook, and I just graduated on the basic degree (different in netherlands I think) but I can do all those things and not because I was taught them AT SCHOOL.

    You guys would be happy to hire me if I lived any closer....*sigh*

    But indeed, when I see what I had in class that were younger than me oh geez they did not even know how to make a mayo.....
     
  7. mikeswoods

    mikeswoods

    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    All I asked was to listen and learn-----and think----

    All three of those are rare-----
     
  8. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

    Messages:
    4,436
    Likes Received:
    397
    Exp:
    Retired Hospitality
    Has anyone thought to hire someone just released from the Brick House?

    Texas has a program (VERY popular and productive...a shame that there is only so much funding).

    http://www.tdcj.state.tx.us/divisions/rpd/rpd_substance_abuse.html

    One of the conditions of their release is to find and KEEP a job.Most (well...a lot anyway, /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif) were guests of the the state and incarcerated for non violent crimes /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smoking.gif ..../img/vbsmilies/smilies/drinkbeer.gif and have attended meetings every day while locked up.

    The offenders are segregated from the main population in dorms...a halfway house if you will and released into a followup program that includes weekly drug screens, daily meetings that last for 5-6 hours and learn how to do basic things like how to be a good employee/father/mother/human.

    They must appear in "Drug Court" every other week.

    They see the same judge throughout their probation period.

    I know most of you have hired ex-cons and been burned and I don't blame you for being hesitant to hire from this pool of prospects.

    Just thought it needed to be brought up...IMO.

    mimi
     
  9. lagom

    lagom

    Messages:
    1,073
    Likes Received:
    108
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    A Dutchman that can make mayo? I thought that was tought in kindergarden there, at least according to every Netherlander I have ever met, and I've met alot.
     
  10. linecook854

    linecook854

    Messages:
    282
    Likes Received:
    18
    Exp:
    Head Chef
    I hired an ex-offender from a program that finds work for them so long as it was a non-violent offense. Did a fantastic job a dishwasher for 4 months, just didn't show up for work one day. Got arrested the previous night for car theft.
     
  11. brandon odell

    brandon odell

    Messages:
    359
    Likes Received:
    39
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    Completing culinary school gives someone enough knowledge to BEGIN to cook in my experience. If someone else doesn't train them how to apply what they know and how a kitchen really runs, they're not worth much. Why do you feel like you might be better off training someone totally green? Because that is usually what you are getting from a grad.

    Now that I'm not running food services or restaurants, and only hire people at a sous chef experience level or higher, I interview very few people and start with a pretty in-depth culinary quiz to start. If they can't make it through the verbal quiz, they don't get a second interview. Saves me a lot of time in the long run. I'm currently studying app programming. If I get proficient enough, I'm going to create an online tool to do the culinary quizzes so I don't even have to talk to them until they prove they have a minimum amount of knowledge.
     
  12. soesje

    soesje

    Messages:
    396
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    LAGOM: LOL!!!!! but unfortunately you're wrong, my friend. these days dutchmen cook from jars and packets and just nuke food... wish it was true ha!

    BRANDON: that sounds like a real good plan and I even think you could sell the idea to restaurateurs looking for people.

    so unless someone passes the test, not even a job interview.

    saves lots of time.... I'd love to see that test of yours though, see if I would pass ;) 
     
  13. mikeswoods

    mikeswoods

    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    I'd love to see that test----

    As I think back on my best kitchen managers and cooks----the best may have failed a written test----the worst will have passed it just fine---

    Does the test include logic, common sense, cool head under pressure, ability to organize and other skills that are every bit as important as the ability to cook?

    My best cold prep guy was illiterate in his native language and only knew kitchen English. Will your test work for that?

    This is a  "show me, don't tell me." business----
     
  14. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

    Messages:
    4,436
    Likes Received:
    397
    Exp:
    Retired Hospitality
    Perfect example why no one wants to hire from those programs.

    Every once in a while I vol to be a "sister" for a halfway house in my area.

    Help them with issues that may be a problem when job hunting.

    Scrape 2/3 makeup off, conceal tats, stuff like that.

    There is a local church that maintains a wardrobe to get them on their feet again.

    Hard to even find someone willing to interview these women much less hire and depend on them.

    (heavy sigh)

    mimi
     
  15. mikeswoods

    mikeswoods

    Messages:
    335
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Professional Caterer
    Some people just have limited life skills----

    But many ex-cons are worth hiring----I'm in the building trades now----

    Many in this line of work have had a brush with the law----and gone on to become good and even great workers.

    Judge every man for what he is today----
     
    soesje and flipflopgirl like this.
  16. soesje

    soesje

    Messages:
    396
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    mike, I love you for that comment!
     
  17. vic cardenas

    vic cardenas

    Messages:
    453
    Likes Received:
    57
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    I'm with mike on this. I don't think a verbal or written test about food knowledge is a good way to judge a potential new hire. I, myself, was passed over one time in this manner and I felt I would have probably been this chefs sous in no time. I went to a job fair at a ski resort and was given a preliminary interview with one of the restaurants head cooks. He looked over my resume, asked me a few questions and said I'd be a good fit for the Italian restaurant. I was sent over to the chef and he asked me a few food knowledge questions that I apparently failed. He told me he was looking for people that had more fine dining knowledge. Then he sent me over to the chef that ran one of the turn and burn places where I got my job. I ended up running that place for a few years as their sous/km. A month into that job, I was told the chef at the French restaurant was looking for one pt guy. They only had 6 employees at the whole place and this was much more higher end than the Italian restaurant. They weren't part of the job fair. The chef asked around and the word around the resort was the best cook at the whole resort was me. They hired me and I ended up filling in for their sous when he needed time off and filling random shifts a few days a week while still working at the turn and burn full time. The chef at the Italian restaurant ended up hiring a bunch of culinary school grads and random dudes with some fine dining experience. Their kitchen ended up really going downhill that year and the chef ended up getting fired. I ended up as the sous full time my last year at the ski resort at the French place and the chef told me he wished he had hired me full time the first year instead of that sous they had for the first two years. I'm glad I didn't end up getting hired at the Italian place because I would have never gotten the job the first year at the French place and most of the cooks at the Italian place ended up leaving after their first year anyway when the chef got fired. Oh and BTW... The French chef never asked me any food knowledge questions. He hired me based on my reputation and experience.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
    mikeswoods likes this.
  18. brandon odell

    brandon odell

    Messages:
    359
    Likes Received:
    39
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    Depends on the job you are hiring them for. My test is given verbally, but if they couldn't pass a written one, I wouldn't hire them for my openings because my openings require a lot of writing. I don't need to do a written test though because I usually communicate with them via email several times before they ever make it to a second interview, assuming they pass the culinary test. Same for verbal communication. I couldn't hire someone who wasn't extremely fluent for my positions.

    I assume other people have the sense to take from a test what is useful for them. If you can use people who can't communicate in writing well, a verbal test would be a great idea. Same with a person with a language barrier. It would be a good indicator of that person's ability to effectively communicate. Doesn't matter what they know if you can't communicate what you need to them or they can't communicate what they need with any staff they might be managing.

    Testing is just a way to weed out the unqualified. Any test given should reflect the ability for the job being interviewed for.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2013
  19. brandon odell

    brandon odell

    Messages:
    359
    Likes Received:
    39
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    Yes, and anecdotes are always reliable in determining best practices, aren't they?
     
  20. vic cardenas

    vic cardenas

    Messages:
    453
    Likes Received:
    57
    Exp:
    Owner/Operator
    Just saying that you might pass over someone like me if all you are basing the interview on is a few questions that may not be relevant at all. Someone like me just might be the best person that ever worked for you. In fact, I'm sure of it. That being said, I'm sure you don't hire solely on this test alone, since you seem like a smart guy... I'm sure you consider many factors. But, there are people out there that hire like this and I think they are dead wrong. Another example I have is, I suspect I wasn't hired for one job because I wasn't familiar with the term PSMO, even though I had broken down a many tenderloin at that point. We just called them tenderloins at that job.

    I'm glad I never worked for chefs like that, though. I got better jobs instead.  
     
    kaiquekuisine likes this.