Please help I'm so perplexed

Joined Jun 20, 2014

I had my first cook job 2016. I lasted 2 months as a line cook in a casual but quite famous NYC Ukrainian Restaurant. Then I had a surgery that put me out of any physical job for 2 months. By that time I didn't have a job with the Restaurant anymore. Now I got a call from a famous NYC French restaurant. They want to hire me as an entry position, prep, $12/hour. It's really a high end place. $12 is not enough to make a living in NYC, but I hope against hope I will get more. The Chef made a really nice impression on me, like the guy I could respect, and all that. No BS, seemed very just job oriented. He offered me a job in prep. He said, "You seem to be an intelligent guy, I just want you to watch the guys" . Not sure what he meant. Anyway, I am so perplexed, I am not making enough money this month in my sales job. Cooking has been a dream for me all my life (50 years?!?!?). I still need to call the chef to put me on schedule, etc. Any tips!

Joined Oct 31, 2012
So you got $12hr to start. There may be more, there may not be. The chef wants to see how you work. Notice he said, "watch the guys". 

So he needs to know first off if you can listen to what you are told and take direction. If you are punctual, work hard, do as you are told and are pleasant to work with, you might get a raise. Or you might just keep the job. 

I would take the job. What are you perplexed about?
Joined Feb 8, 2009
I would say at 50 this would be your last best chance for a career in this business. Your right $12 an hour isn't enough to make it in NYC. My answer to the chef would be this. I'll learn and watch, I'll be the best at any job you give me, I'll be available for any overtime or extra time, I'll be reliable and hardworking. Knowing it won't be easy for me to live on this wage and if I follow through with everything I say I will do. Could you pay me a better wage so I came live a better life and pay my bills. All you have to do is be the best you can be. The good news for you is a upscale restaurant would rather pay their employees more in order to keep them. ...........Good luck........Chef Bill
Joined Jun 20, 2014
Thanks, First of all  what he meant by "watching the guys". Just that i learn by watching?

The dilemma:

1,at $12 I can't make a living in NYC. 

2, My shoulder pain - it didn't get worse or better, but I haven't work physically. But if it gets worse there is nothing I can do about it. 

3. If I don't make it I may loose my present sales job.

Also I'm not that strong anymore. I used to run 50 miles a week. 100 push ups, etc. Not I'm just a joke.  I had a "terminal sickness" that is now gone !!!! But still very far from being fit. 

The bottom line -  I need to make a living. Bad!!! Or I will become homeless. 

 But... this is a great restaurant, the chef make a great impression, someone to be a role model BTW it's Cherche Midi. It was strange I didn't have any credentials for this job, just told the chef about my "love for food", showed him pics of stuff i cooked, and... he didn't even asked any questions, just basically gave me the job
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
Yes, learn by watching. Being willing to do what you are told, in the way you are told. Watch how the other guys work. They will be very focused, very neat, very concerned with cleanliness, very much with their mind on the work. 

1. I understand the money problem. It is becoming a major issue in NYC and other high priced areas of the country. You might try roommates in Brooklyn, Queens, or the Bronx. If you want to stay in NYC and take this job, you'll have to figure something out. 

2. You should speak to your doctor about the shoulder pain and let him/her know what you will be doing. You should also tell the chef what you have been through so he isn't surprised after he hires you. 

3. I don't know what getting this job has to do with losing your sales job. 

4. This job aside, you could move. Why does it have to be NYC? There are plenty of other areas of the country to work in a great restaurant. If the choice is NYC/homeless or moving somewhere else and having a place to live, I would move. 
Joined Oct 10, 2005
$12/hr for someone with less than 3 mths cooking experience is a pretty good deal, especially if you are working in a high end place.

This is where phrases like "passion for cooking" are put to the acid test....  

You won't be the first cook or the last-- to ponder how you will pay rent and basics with a miniscule paycheck.  Pretty much anyone you admire in the culinary world has gone through the same ordeal, some with young families to support, others with sickness, various muscle pulls and "it is-es", broken limbs, burns, etc.. 

And if you choose to work at sales or some other non-cooking related  job on a p/t basis to support yourself until you are at a stage where you can earn enough in a kitchen to pay for rent and basics, you won't be the first cook to do that either--or the last.

Hope I don't sound like a complete jerk...
Joined Jan 4, 2011
NO foodpump ... you didn't sound like a jerk. 

Once again ... as per usual ... ChefBillyB's words are true as true. Listen to what you've been told, kbuff. It's very good advice.


Staff member
Joined Oct 7, 2001
kbuff, I hate to burst your dreams but I think you need to take a real hard look at things.  Sorry, but even in NYC, $12 is decent for a prep job.  It's not great, but it's decent.  Those jobs are meant for young people, just starting out in life and as such usually don't have a lot of bills to pay, often live with a couple of roommates, etc.  In other words, are paying their dues.  It sucks, but that's the reality of it.  Secondly, cooking is hard on the body.  You stand for long hours, usually on concrete.  You work in a hot, stressful environment and holding a knife for 8 hours a day can take its toll on your hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder, not to mention all the lifting, bending, etc.  At your age, coupled with your recent health issues I hate to say it but you may have missed your boat on this one.  I'm not trying to be harsh or anything, but it just doesn't sound like your circumstances are right for you to be making a career change, not if you run the risk of making yourself homeless.  And chances are, even if you completely wowed them at this place they wouldn't bump you up that much for a prep position.
Joined Jun 20, 2014
Thanks guys,

The bottom line is that I don't have a career, and not much choice. The career I once had not is long gone, and not possible, and none of it is transferable, believe me, long story, but since 2013, I've been through so many jobs, and there really isn't a perfect job. So like it or not, I don't have much choice. And I like working in a restaurant a lot. The physical strain is what concerns me, and even more that my hearing is not very good, and everything is uncertainty, but I've been trying very hard to find a job, and believe me, there is not much choice for a guy like me. I don't know. I am really depressed, I guess, after 3 years of trying really hard to just find a job. Food industry is by far the best match for me. I don't know, really feeling like giving up on everything, and almost regret I didn't die from the disease that was cured. Judging from those 3 years of trying really hard, and not being picky at all, and all the different ways seems like I missed all the boat in my whole like, period, and there is nowhere else to go, 
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Joined Oct 31, 2012
A favorite quote of mine is credited to Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Car Company. 

'" Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you are right both times." 

When I'm feeling like you state in your last post, rather than focus on everything that's wrong with my life I find it enormously helpful to count my blessings. 

Basic things. I have a roof over my head, an education, food in the fridge, clothes on my back, many good friends…..etc. 

      You might review how your thoughts are limiting how you see your current situation.

     From what you posted, "I survived a deadly illness". Holy sickness, Batman. That's a fantastic reason to be happy and proud of your strength and resilience. 

     You have access to a computer and through that, to advice from people around the world.  Another blessing. You have a job, however far it may be from what you want. Blessing. 

You have the opportunity to fall flat on your face working for a fancy NYC restaurant. You have opportunity. Blessing.

You live in NYC/New Jersey, home to thousands of great restaurants. Great blessing. Have you applied at every single one?

NYC is also home to enormous career evaluation advice. Blessings. Have you talked to any local career advice givers? Like head hunters, college career counselors, the local unemployment office, etc.  

After reading your profile, you can play Jazz piano? Great blessing. Find others to play with. 

You write fiction. That takes some brains. Blessing. Find a writing group you can practice with. 

Your former career was estimator. So you have a had a career and still have contacts in that industry. Blessing. 

Obviously I think you have a lot going for you that you are not paying attention to. Focus on the positive, not the negative. 
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Joined Jun 20, 2014
Thank you foodpump,

Actually I have more then 3 months, but... I was  line cook for 3 months, but to just quirk of fate, I had to quit. Anyway, $12/hour is not possible, unless you live with you parents, have savings, or somewhat are able to milk the system. And I am blessed to pay only $630 for rent. But maybe I could somehow survive for a few months, assuming not some extra expenses, taking extreme measures, eating at the restaurant tr least one good meal at only $2.50, etc.. I still need to ask the chef if I need to have some stuff like jacket knives, etc.. I would need shoes, since the ones I have are falling apart (also I think I should look reasonably neat). This is detail, but in my situation, important. Yes, I don't actually have much of a choice, So the prep cook job is not just my "dream" but mostly the only option now. Thank again. You didn't sound like a jerk :))))
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Joined Dec 23, 2004
One good thing is that, for you at least, is that finding people with a good work ethic is almost impossible nowadays.  Even at your age you will have a high ceiling if you can learn quickly and will work hard./img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif

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