Meeting with Head Chef/Co-Owner TONITE!

Joined Aug 15, 2004
Hope someone out there is reading this forum right now~! It is 1:44pm here, and at 3:45pm today, I have been invited to meet with the Head Chef and Co-owner of a very upscale well-established (25+years) restaurant 2 blocks from my home. A place that I've eaten in ever since its inception circa 1978.

I once identified a problem with their BBQ spare ribs and 2 days later, this Head Chef/Co-owner called me at home and said when he and his staff cooked up a bunch of ribs the next day after receiving my observations, they immediately all agreed that I had hit the nail on the head. He was so pleased with yours truly, that my wife and I were invited to enjoy a complete dinner on the house! That was maybe 2 years ago.

Recently, since he is also an officer in the local Restaurant Association, and an ex-Director of the ACF, I had emailed him asking many questions about the culinary world, in my attempt to determine where I might fit in, as I explore culinary pursuits as a possible career change.

Last week, he called me at home, and invited me to come on over for "about 1/2 hour" so we can chat, and he could fill me in on his experiences and perspective of the restaurant/cooking/culinary world.

So, this place would be ideal for me to work at, because they serve classy dishes, not too nouveau, excellent steaks, seafood, soups, salad bar that is one of the best in the area, and it has quite a lovely ambience, with outside dining areas too. They are into sauces, which I love to make (demi-glace obsessive, I am!). I've eaten there because I enjoy the type of cuisine they serve, and especially because, unlike many restaurants, they are very consistently good.

So how should I handle this? He already knows who I am, respects my discriminating palate (in his own words).

So should I just go in and chat? Or should I take this as an opportunity to "sell" myself as a possible asset to his establishment? I know there is much to learn, but I do know a few things already. My knife skills are adequate. I see it as an opportunity to help out and "learn the ropes". I certainly would not suggest that I start as a cook, but a cook's helper maybe? A chance to see how they do things? I know I am a very fast learner, and have already worked in a classy restaurant while in high school, including Fry Cook for several years. Also worked for a summer in a very exclusive golf club.

Any thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, perceptions, ideas are very much welcome. Thanks in advance for responding very quickly!

Joined Dec 8, 1999
Sorry for the late reply, hope things went well. Here's some thoughts:

If you have some experience working a line (even as a fry cook), you probably could work as a cook. You'd want to start out on a slow night till you get your moves back. Working as a prep cook first might be a better idea. Through doing the prep, you gain a better understanding of each dish.

Can you give the name of the place?
Joined Oct 13, 2001
Congrats on the possible chance! Its realy nice to be recognized for your abilities.I most whole heartedly agree with Greg to re-learn and re-cordinate your moves.If you just work hard and do the best you can I am sure you would do very well for the biz and yourself!Character and hard work go a long way(not to mention just good natural cooking skills).Keep us posted.Doug.........
Joined Aug 15, 2004
Thanks guys for your replies!

Well, I got there about 3:40pm, and we went out and sat on the veranda overlooking the beatifully landscaped area complete with fountain. Hit it off right from the bat. Talked about the history of the place. I remember it being the Sandpiper before it became what it is now back in 1978. He filled me in on some more details that I had not before been privy to. It was very interesting. They actually got the restaurant on the auction block, and it had been boarded up just as it was the last night it was open. Garbage still in the cans, tables still set up, with dirty dishes and half eaten meals still in place.

He says he doesn't do the hiring, but would give my name to his exec chef. It would be entirely up to the EC.

However, he also gave me the name of a local guy in some sort of Amateur Chef organization who he has known for many years and described him as one of the greatest gourmands he's known. The guy does some sort of new spice making sort of thing. We didn't linger long on the subject, but I have the guy's phone number and he only lives mere blocks from me.

He also clued me in on the best acf chef's "club" to join. We talked about ideas that I have had about starting a cable access TV show, which would address basic French technique. While I know enough to know that there is a LOT that I don't know, he seemed impressed with my food knowledge, and we actually became friends. Exchanged emails, and promised to continue to keep in touch. WOW!

Best of all, he's invited me to cook for him sometime, and for me that is a chance to repay him for all the great meals I've had in his restaurant, get some feedback too, and another chance to get together for awhile.

We have similar engineering backgrounds with a lifelong love of cooking. He and I both like the creative aspects and outlet that cooking provides. He was however, disillusioned with the present state of running a restaurant having turned completely into an administrative role attempting to keep up with all the regulations, as opposed to the fun it was in the mid 70's when he started cooking. His current peeve is learning the new OT rules.

I agreed that in the medical device arena, back in the mid '70's, it was fun, full of commeraderie, but now has turned likewise in to a mass of government rules and regulations.

So, the 1/2 hour invite lasted almost 2 hours, until the restaurant was overflowing and customers were demanding to be seated out on the veranda. Nobody was going to seat someone out there while the "boss" seemed to be having such a good time.

That is all for now.

Thanks for tuning in. We'll see you next week, same place, same time.

WHoops, practicing my script already! :)

Joined Jul 31, 2000
If you have some experience working a line (even as a fry cook), you probably could work as a cook. QUOTE]

I respectfully disagree with that assumption because there is much more to being a cook than understanding the fry station. You must be intuitive to the flow of the entire line (including Garde Manger & Pastry) and the pace of the ordering and firing. Your ability to do your Mise and carry that over to execution on the line takes skill that is learned by repetition and cross training.

I feel by your description of your meeting that it was a win win situation. Hopefully you can grow from from your experience.
Joined Dec 8, 1999
Cape, that's why I said "probably" and on a slow night. My line of thinking is that the experience of working a line on the fry station would at least give one the understanding of how a line works. From there, it would take less of the repitition and cross-training you mention to work other stations. Also, I'm taking Doc's pasion and dedication into account. However, I should have been more clear in what I was saying to begin with. You are most certainly correct. I'm just a little cocky, though; I think I can teach anybody to cook professionally, regardless of past failures.
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