Newly hired cook looking for advice from a chef

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by Joseywhales, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. Joseywhales

    Joseywhales

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    Exp:
    Newly hired cook
    Hey guys new to the board. Recently I was hired at a qudoba as a cook, and I’m enjoying it. But 3 weeks in I feel like I’ve learned as much as I can, from the place. The recipes are simple and there really isn’t much. So I applied to another job in town, at a breakfast diner and have an interview tomorrow. The pay will be better, which is good, but I’m not sure what to expect. How do I go about securing this job? Is what my question really is.

    I have only 3 weeks experience when it comes to cooking but I have worked the dish pit in a few restaurants. I do love cooking and attempt to make a different recipe at home at least every other day. So again, how do I get this job? What do you chefs like to hear and see when hiring cooks, especially ones with no real experience?
     
  2. foodpump

    foodpump

    Messages:
    5,007
    Likes Received:
    561
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    We like cooks who stay longer than 3 weeks....
     
    sgsvirgil likes this.
  3. frankie007

    frankie007

    Messages:
    149
    Likes Received:
    28
    Exp:
    professional chef over 20 years
    You should think about this stuff before. If i was hiring and went through interview process and gave you a job I would not be happy with you leaving after 3 weeks to say the least......
     
  4. Joseywhales

    Joseywhales

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    Exp:
    Newly hired cook
    I get what you two are saying.
     
  5. chefross

    chefross

    Messages:
    2,767
    Likes Received:
    408
    Exp:
    Former Chef
    Welcome to Chef Talk Joseywhales.

    So for the past three weeks you've worked at a Mexican fast food place.
    You've learned the menu and how to cook everything on it to perfection in just 3 weeks?
    Oy Veh
    !!

    I'm trying to balance what you've said with my many years of experience working with people like yourself.

    While you may have mastered this fast food places' way of doing things, that doesn't mean you have the knowledge you'd need to convince that breakfast place that you can do the job.
    By your own admission, you stated that you only have three weeks experience.

    Firstly be truthful, honest, and hit more on your ability to learn quickly and put out a great looking plate, than your 3 weeks experience.....good luck
     
  6. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,374
    Likes Received:
    927
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    You may think you have learned it all, but you haven't. Sure, recipes are created at fast food places to be very easy, and easily learned, but there is still plenty to learn. First, and foremost, is speed and working under pressure. Learning how to move, in a kitchen, in a smooth, efficient manner takes time. There are other organizational aspects that this place can, and will, teach you. You really should stick it out for longer than 3 weeks. Give the place 6 months to a year and then move on. By then you will have learned most of what that place can teach you.
     
    linecookliz likes this.
  7. Joseywhales

    Joseywhales

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    Exp:
    Newly hired cook
    Again I understand. The recipes are incredibly easy, and I’m they’re meant to be easy. I also understand that speed and efficiency are things I need to lock down. But let me explain my biggest problem with this place is, when there’s an ingredient not prepared I’m told to just make it anyways. That’s something I dislike very much.

    Of course I would be honest in my interview. I always am. I feel like there’s so much more at this place, and it’d be great to work there, if given the opportunity. If I’m not hired, I’m prepared to stick it out at my current job for as long as it takes to perfect everything.
     
  8. linecookliz

    linecookliz

    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    19
    Exp:
    Line Cook
    All restaurants are like that regarding prep; from fast food to fine dining. If you don't have your mis-en-place down then you should learn more about organization. Plus in a month the restuarant you currently work might be a bit busier, so more prep will need to be done. It also doesn't look or sound right to a future employer (leaving after 3 weeks). Breakfast places tend to want more experience since cooking eggs of all variations can be difficult to do, and breakfast time is a lot busier. A second cooking job is always great if you're bored and wanting to learn more. I would stick it out for another 5 months though. You could learn more than you think. I only have 2 years experience though. Good luck.
     
  9. Joseywhales

    Joseywhales

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    Exp:
    Newly hired cook

    Thanks for all the replies and you’re right. Especially about the eggs. I just thought about that myself, working there part time. But I’ll see how things unfold as I go. My main focus is to just learn as much as I can and I’ll go and stay where I can do that. After all I’m not getting any younger.
     
    linecookliz likes this.
  10. foodpump

    foodpump

    Messages:
    5,007
    Likes Received:
    561
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    Hi joesywhales,

    I think, if you want to stick around in this business, you’ll have to acknowledge what the employer wants, as much or more than what you want. After all, if there is no employer, there is no employee, right?

    From an employer’s point of view, what’s the sense of hiring someone who has a history of staying less than a month? A lot of time an effort are spent in training up new employees, and it takes a few weeks for a new employee to get up to speed.

    You want to learn? Great! Just remember that what you are shown, or what you are trained to do on the job might not necessarily be the right way of doing things. From my first employer I learned how to make an “omelette” on the flat top. We had only two open burners, so it wasn’t possible to make a “real” omelette in a pan. With every work place you have to learn how to work with what you have. And not every Chef is a natural teacher with lots of worldly culinary experience to share.

    In any case, it might take you a few interviews to acknowledge that employers want employees to stay a minimum of 6 months, or why even bother showing them anything?
     
  11. Joseywhales

    Joseywhales

    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    1
    Exp:
    Newly hired cook

    Of course. I just had my interview and I got the job. I’m making a bit more now, but that’s beside the point. I live in an area where it’s a small town but we get a high traffic of tourist. If I’m going to start learning how to cook, during the slow time(winter)before the busy time(summer) I believe it’s best at this morning diner. They have me starting as a prep cook, and was told I would move up based on my ability to show effort. For example coming in early, staying late, learning fast ect. They want me as a prep, occasionally a dishwasher, and then I’ll move up to salads, and eventually they’ll teach me all the stations. Compared to now where I walk 30minutes to a place where no one really cares. If I’m going to learn the right way it’s better at this job, and if I’m going to leave qudoba it’s better to leave sooner than later. At least that’s how I see it.

    I will add that I do feel bad for qudoba but I’m 26. I need to put my shift in to gear and learn everything I possibly can while I still have some youth in me.
     
  12. bier chef

    bier chef

    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    6
    Exp:
    15+ years
     
  13. bier chef

    bier chef

    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    6
    Exp:
    15+ years
    My advice...Stay humble. You are in the baby step phases of your career. If you don't feel like you are learning at your current job start seeking further employment while you keep working at the place that you feel bored. While doing so, remain punctual, hard working and diligent to your position, earn a good reference. Most of all, don't talk shit about your current employer while you are in an interview. Do a stage at a legit place, see if they want to hire you and work your way up the ladder. Do the shit that no one else does (deep clean, hoods, floors, coolers,) have an attention to detail, The respect and money will follow.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2018
    linecookliz likes this.
  14. someday

    someday

    Messages:
    1,595
    Likes Received:
    375
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    Hey, listen. Sometimes stuff doesn't work out. If working at Qdoba isn't what you want to do, then you shouldn't work there. "Sticking it out" just for the sake of sticking it out isn't really going to do any good for you or the employer. I think 3 weeks is enough time to decide if someplace is a good fit or not. While I doubt that you have truly learned everything there is to learn at Qdoba, I think what you really meant to say was that the ceiling is lower at a place like that and you want to work somewhere more in line with your career and future goals.

    There is nothing wrong with that. If there was a pattern of only working at a place for a few weeks/months at a time (as in, you had multiple of those places on your resume) then I would be concerned. But one time at Qdoba? Nah, it wouldn't bother me.

    If you're trying to get started in your career as a cook then you should be in a place where you can lean, that energizes you, and where there is a real chef there to teach you. Qdoba is most likely not that place.

    Don't feel bad about it. The thing that will sell you on a new place is your desire to learn and enthusiasm. Prep is a good place to start in a kitchen. It will teach you how to move around efficiently, jargon/language, speed, knifework, organization, etc. If you are good at it you should move up quickly. Congrats on the new gig.
     
    linecookliz likes this.
  15. capricciosa

    capricciosa

    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    69
    Exp:
    Professional Baker, Butcher, Garde Manger
    I think it goes back to balance employer/employee. I never go into a job with the mindset that I'm going to quit after X amount of time, but if an employer is doing me no favors or treating me bad, I don't see it that I owe them X amount of time. They hired me, but I have to work to maintain that employment, so that makes us equal in that regard. Neither of us is doing the other a favor just for the sheer fact that an employer hired me.

    That being said, I always do base it on how well the employer treats me. I've never walked out on an employer who treated me with basic human dignity and respect, and I've toughed out mediocre jobs for longer than I should have from a career standpoint because I had a good boss. But, on the flipside, I have also walked out in the middle of a shift on employers who are abusive or take advantage of employees. It's give and take.

    I guess it might be too late, but I would imagine the qdoba job is probably part time. Maybe tell them you want to grow and took another job but are still willing to work a few shifts a week. Two jobs pays better than one job, and each one will develop a different skillset.
     
  16. foodpump

    foodpump

    Messages:
    5,007
    Likes Received:
    561
    Exp:
    Professional Pastry Chef
    I just want to remind everyone that the o.p. had no kitchen experience prior to their first job, and after 3 weeks feels that there is nothing new to learn.

    I dunno, but my first job was Mickey d’s, and there was enough for me to learn there for 4 mths....