nervous about new job

Joined Jun 8, 2011
hey all,,so i love to cook and i love working in restaurants though am only experienced in dishwashing, applied to culinary school got accpeted for next year,, wanting to get some experience under my belt i started emailing restaurants asking for a shot,,had a few interviews and finally nailed one,,i have been hired to be a line cook at a new restaurant opening in 2 weeks, i am nervous about starting with no experience though and dont want to fuck anything up.. any tips?
Joined Aug 15, 2003

As long as you were honest with the chefs about your experience level and such, they should expect you to be pretty green and ween you accordingly. Listen, you WILL f*** up. A lot. But, if you focus and try hard, you will not f*** up the same thing repeatedly and should learn quickly. Don't assume you know anything. Its better to ask a chef a question (even a stupid one) or to show you how to do something, than to assume you know how to do it and then cut a case of potatoes the wrong size, or whatever. Ask a lot of questions--if your chefs are any good, they will want to teach you and have you learn. Like I said, ask them to show you, then do it like they showed you as fast as you can. 

Don't take shortcuts, even if you see other cooks doing it. If the chefs taught you the right way, then do it that way. Let the other guys be lazy and half assed, not you. Carry your pride and work ethic with you and it will take you far in the long run.

The most important thing when starting out is to have a great attitude. Work hard, stay late, go in early, do the heavy lifting, if you can't find something to do, clean something. Talk to the other cooks, lean about what they make. When you are slow, take a peak at what they are doing...see how they move, how they cook, etc. Taste their food...ask them how they made it. It might not make much sense in the beginning, but it can start to build a base of knowledge and lay a foundation for when you go to school next year and beyond.

Did they tell you what station they are starting you out on? I would assume they would start someone with no experience on the cold station...not the hot line. Cold station is a great place to start (probably where 99% of all cooks/chefs start) and will teach you the basics of moving in a kitchen, working fast and clean, prioritizing tickets and prep lists, cooking techniques (vinaigrettes, aioli, maybe soups, etc) and kitchen language (what a ninth pan is, what a sixth pan is, a pint deli, a quart deli, etc).

One last thing...don't take it personally. I don't know where you will be working, or what type or restaurant, or whatever, but don't take things like getting yelled at or told off personally. I've sort of developed a "water off a duck's back" attitude toward my kitchen work...I've worked in some hard kitchens. My chefs like(d) to yell...a lot. I leave it in the kitchen and don't take it home with me. I worked in a place where the line cooks would literally, right as service began, say things like "see you in five hours" because we knew that, for all intents and purposes, we weren't "ourselves" for the service. So anything that happened between 5:00 and 10:00-11:00 wasn't taken personally. It was obviously tongue-in-cheek sort of thing, and funny and fun to do, but had serious undertones. 

Basically, the kitchen is not a place to be sensitive. Stick it out and you will learn. 

Anyways, that's all I got...good luck!
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Joined May 20, 2011
Great advice from Someday.

I'm only going to add a small piece of specific advice that helped me a lot when I started. Once I had written out my prep list for what needed doing the next day, I'd take it home with me at night and then rewrite it in a way that like Someday said would prioritise my MEP so that I could do it as efficiently as possible.

So I'd look at what stuff needed the longest time to cook or to prep, what stuff was best done just before service and what Jobs could I do simultaneously. I'd then then give my self a time I needed to have completed each task by and then write out my prep list accordingly so it was quite a specific itinerary. This way I always knew whether I was looking alright for service or was completely in the s**t.

After you gain a little experience you won't need to do this but to start with I do this with all my new chefs and it gets them working efficiently pretty quickly and after a while they are amazed at how many jobs they can be doing at the same time.

Good luck 
Joined Mar 18, 2011
The best advice I can give is to work hard, be willing to learn, and come in every day with a good attitude. Like its been said above, you're gunna screw up. A lot. We all do. Hell, even when you DON'T screw up, people send things back. 

Ask questions about everything. A good Chef/KM will be willing to explain everything to you until you get it. Learn your station, and be able to do it with your eyes closed. Once you can do that, show a willingness to learn other stations. Cross training will get you more hours then just knowing how to make some salads. 

I'm excited for you. Good luck!
Joined Jun 14, 2002
. Don't assume you know anything. Its better to ask a chef a question (even a stupid one) or to show you how to do something, than to assume you know how to do it and then cut a case of potatoes the wrong size, or whatever.
Generally good advice. I had a contradictory experience though. I was doing a try out stage for one job, and the Chef asked me to make some tarter sauce. I say "Sure Chef, what do you want me to put in it?," because there are lots and lots of variations on tarter sauce. Guy looks at me like I'm the biggest idiot he's ever seen, and tells me not to bother. Turns out they just wanted the sauce for staff meal.
Joined Apr 13, 2011
Hey, I feel where you're coming from. I started at the restaurant I work at now as a dishwasher, even though I had applied to be a line cook/prep cook. One month later I made it to the line. Be totally open to instruction, even when you have different people telling you different methods, because eventually you'll have the respect of everyone to do certain tasks "your way". Always follow whatever the head chef says, and don't bother disagreeing or arguing with him, because that will get you nowhere besides the doghouse. After a certain point, you'll have the respect of the chef to make suggestions, even if they all get shot down. Most of all, believe in yourself, and never take any criticism too personally.

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