Line pirate looking for a career

Joined Jan 28, 2010
Ive been on the line for going on 6 years. I graduated film school right as the writer strike happened and couldn't get a job that paid more then $75 a day (14 hour days on set). So I got a job as a dishwasher in a well known nightclub in Hollywood. I moved my way onto the line after a cook called in 'sick'. I found my passion.

Since then I have catered private events for celebrity charities, done a St. Patricks Day weekend at an Irish pub (we actually slept in the kitchen and worked 12 hours for 3 days), and have been on a tv show with Coolio for his cooking show (what a travisty).

What Im getting at is what steps do I need to do to get 'off' the line and work my way up. I know I'm relatively new in kitchen standards, but how does one become a chef, sous chef or kitchen manager without any culinary schooling. Is it realistic that I will stop being a grunt and actually command a crew of my own? I have the chops and the desire but not all the know-how.
Joined Mar 16, 2009
I am Sous Chef of a kitchen where I started off making salads and washing dishes, and haven't had the time or means to cut back my hours and go to school, so it is certainly possible. I just worked really hard at whatever need to be done, however lowly it may have been, and made it a point to watch *everything* which went on around me. If I saw a dish made, I would ask everyone I could how they made it to get different perspectives. I volunteered for work I wasn't getting paid to do just for the experience. I researched the curriculums of culinary schools, bought the textbooks and worked through them in my free time.

There is also an element of luck or being at the right place at the right time. I was fortunate to have found a chef with decades of experience who was willing to take me on as an apprentice. I was lucky again that I was working with him when he was offered the executive chef's position, because he took me on as sous chef, at first solely on the strength of our rapport and my potential. It has been inspiring to me to know that he started the same way himself, as a pot washer in Jamaica, and was taken under the wing of a Swiss chef at a resort there, which he eventually ran himself for about 15 years.
Joined Aug 21, 2009
Yes it can happen and it has alot to do with you and how you work. I have experience but no formal training and I am sous/akm. I worked my way there fairly quickly but they did see the potential in me and when the current KM was promoted, he named me as the one he wants for his assistant. I have had to grow into the role and it has taken some time for me to change my "OMFG this guy is a twerp why do we keep him??" feelings and see them from a "this guy has potential but we have some work to do to get him to where we need him" point of view.

In my opinion, what you can do and what you do speaks louder than what schooling you have, but in some cases having the papers does definitely help.

Is it possible for you to go part time and still continue working?
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