New to restaurant life, and need some pointers.

1
0
Joined Jul 30, 2020
Hi everyone,
This is my first job, and I was hired at a fine dining place as a line cook on the Garde station.
I have several questions, and I'm looking for guidance on how to do better.
First, what is the competition like? So far, people at my restaurant work more with than a against each other, so I don't need to worry about this, but I hear it can be pretty cutthroat, and since most of the other people here are in Culinary School (I'm not), does this negatively impact my chances of becoming a permanent employee?
Second, how to be better. My CdP always wants me to be faster (and honestly, the guy is speed in human form. He finishes most of the orders in perfect time, regardless of how rushed we are), but the thing is, I find that even my fastest isn't fast enough. I still end up going over time on most bills, and as a result end up being useless as he has to rescue my dish. If I work faster, I end up destroying my dish and being clumsy. So most of the time I end up standing around or doing other odd jobs, but I just can't get better. Is there any hope for me? I try, but getting faster isn't happening. Even when I work, I find he tells me to clean as I go, but when I clean while a salad is in front of me or an order is on screen, he tells me to focus on the dish - so what do I do? I'm not blaming him here - he somehow works without ever making a mess, but I cannot. I don't know if it's because I'm stupid, new, or just clumsy.
Third, how to talk to my chef about a possible placement in front of house? I feel like I might do well in front of house, considering it's mostly people oriented, and I also feel I can learn better how to do my job once I've tried Front of House too, but I have never heard of anyone being a line cook and front of house. Is this possible, probable and a good idea, or just silly?
Thanks.
 
65
10
Joined Dec 29, 2019
Hi everyone,
This is my first job, and I was hired at a fine dining place as a line cook on the Garde station.
I have several questions, and I'm looking for guidance on how to do better.
First, what is the competition like? So far, people at my restaurant work more with than a against each other, so I don't need to worry about this, but I hear it can be pretty cutthroat, and since most of the other people here are in Culinary School (I'm not), does this negatively impact my chances of becoming a permanent employee?
Second, how to be better. My CdP always wants me to be faster (and honestly, the guy is speed in human form. He finishes most of the orders in perfect time, regardless of how rushed we are), but the thing is, I find that even my fastest isn't fast enough. I still end up going over time on most bills, and as a result end up being useless as he has to rescue my dish. If I work faster, I end up destroying my dish and being clumsy. So most of the time I end up standing around or doing other odd jobs, but I just can't get better. Is there any hope for me? I try, but getting faster isn't happening. Even when I work, I find he tells me to clean as I go, but when I clean while a salad is in front of me or an order is on screen, he tells me to focus on the dish - so what do I do? I'm not blaming him here - he somehow works without ever making a mess, but I cannot. I don't know if it's because I'm stupid, new, or just clumsy.
Third, how to talk to my chef about a possible placement in front of house? I feel like I might do well in front of house, considering it's mostly people oriented, and I also feel I can learn better how to do my job once I've tried Front of House too, but I have never heard of anyone being a line cook and front of house. Is this possible, probable and a good idea, or just silly?
Thanks.
If you say I can't do it , I believe you, because you told me.
If you say you can do it, even though you can't , I believe you can eventually.
A touch of arrogance can help whilst learning to multitask. Blind belief, faith that you can do it.
I feel its a mistake to compare your insides to other peoples outsides.
 
2,066
576
Joined Oct 31, 2012
Here's a short response to answer all your questions.
Ask your CdP to demote you to dishes and prep for a while. While doing that, you should work hard, observe others, ask questions and read cookbooks. Over time you should work in all areas of the restaurant, both front of house (FOH) and BOH.
That's it.
The reason for that answer is because from what you posted you haven't developed the work skills needed to do a Garde manger station. Prep and dishes teach you those skills and they are skills, not knowledge you are born with.
Your chef is speed personified because he has lots of muscle memory from years of practice so he can do certain things without thinking about it. You do not.
Working clean- Example- twenty pounds of onions finely diced. First, have onions in a clean container, get rid of the box/bag they came in. Onions on one side, cutting board, empty container on other side of cutting board. Cut all onions in half, place in second container as you work. Peel all the onions, get rid of the peels as you place the peeled onions in a clean container. Wipe up any stray peels so your area is clean. Dice the onions, clearing the cutting board of cut onions as it fills and put the diced onions in a clean container. When finished dicing, clean your knife and put it away. the cutting board to the dish area, wipe the table down. wrap the onions, label with date and put in walk in. There should be no evidence you ever chopped onions.
This process of clearing and cleaning as you go will eventually be how you think about all of your work. This also helps you learn to focus on the immediate task in front of you.
So now you make a salad. Your area is clean and organized with all tools in their own permanent location and all your ingredients are fresh and ready. Make the salad as you have been shown putting any tool you use back where it belongs as you make the salad. Plate and serve. A quick clean up any bits of lettuce, dressing or garnish left behind in your work area. Move to the next thing.
While doing this, develop a thick skin. No matter what the chef shouts at you or how loud or mean, focus on making the salad correctly. You do not serve mistakes. It may be late but it will be correct.
Over time you will develop good practices and your own muscle memory. It just takes a while.
 
1,101
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Joined Mar 1, 2017
^^^ This is some excellent advice. I'm not so sure I agree with the suggestion about demotion. In a kitchen, a bird in the hand is always worth two in the bush. If you're demoted, you may never get the opportunity to rise again in that kitchen. I would suggest you ask your CdP for suggestions and guidance on how you can improve. Perhaps start by asking to be scheduled during less busy days of the week?

I would encourage you to heed chefwriter chefwriter 's advice and apply it to your tasks at the Garde station. Someone believed that you had the ability to handle this position based upon what they observed. Your speed, accuracy and efficiency will come with a little bit of time and diligence.

The fact that you recognize that you're falling behind is, in an of itself, a good sign that you belong there. Own that.

Good luck. :)
 
2,066
576
Joined Oct 31, 2012
Sgsvirgil. You're right. Asking for a demotion is probably a bit much. But a conversation is certainly warranted. Glad you pointed that out.
 
628
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Joined Sep 17, 2018
What helped me when I first started out was my chef wanted detailed timeline lists for shifts and menu items, and I would have to think through each shift and dish and make reasonable judgments on how long each task would take. I would refer to these sheets throughout the day and use it as markers to see where I was doing well and where I needed to improve. Time management is a learned skill but having daily markers and specific goals may help rather than an generalized goal of "just getting faster."
 
5
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Joined Jul 24, 2020
If you say I can't do it , I believe you, because you told me.
If you say you can do it, even though you can't , I believe you can eventually.
A touch of arrogance can help whilst learning to multitask. Blind belief, faith that you can do it.
I feel its a mistake to compare your insides to other peoples outsides.
Couldn't be more true. I tried this after I faced a very similar situation, worked like a charm.
 
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