Question: Can a 17 year old in high school be a part time line cook?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by Maria Ramirez, Feb 19, 2019.

  1. Maria Ramirez

    Maria Ramirez

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    I’m looking into getting my first job and I would really like to work as a cook to start out. I plan on going to culinary school and eventually becoming a chef when I’m out of high school. I don’t have any formal work experience but I have been cooking since I was a little kid. Is there anywhere that would actually hire a 17 year old? Thanks in advance!
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    depends on a number of things. local laws or even the insurance of the business might not allow minors in the kitchen.

    Also, line cook is an experienced position. most places. Expect a more entry level opportunity than that.
     
  3. someday

    someday

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    You'd have to find a very specific place that is looking for part time entry level help. Usually line cooking is a full time job and most places don't have part time line cooking employees. But that is a generalization and you may be able to find a place that is looking for that type of help.

    I would suggest that you maybe start out as a dishwasher and see where that goes. I've never had a kitchen job in my life that didn't involve doing at least SOME amount of dishes, and since you've never worked in a pro kitchen it is a good place to start. Once you master the dish pit, you should be able to take on some basic prep tasks between dishes to help the kitchen out. If you do a good job they should give you a shot at prep cook or maybe a pantry position.
     
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  4. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    With no experience in a professional kitchen, you are not going to find a job as a line cook. It does not matter how much cook time you have at home. Cooking commercially and cooking at home are two very, very different things. You will likely start out washing dishes, mopping floors, taking out the trash etc. Maybe after a while, if you show aptitude and prove you're a good worker, you will move up to prep.

    Whether or not you can work in a commercial kitchen in any capacity at 17 is going to be up to your state's labor laws. Most states will allow you to work in a commercial kitchen at 17. However, if you're still in high school, you probably won't be able to work past a certain hour on school nights and more than a certain number of hours in a 7 day period.

    However, once you turn 18, all restrictions that would otherwise apply to 17 year olds go away.

    You can find out the details by simply going to your state's labor department website.

    Good luck. :)
     
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  5. Mischief

    Mischief

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    If you're not in a very labor short market, you won't want to work for someone who would hire you as a line cook with your current experience. I don't mean to turn you away from the profession but starting at the bottom at a great restaurant/for a great chef will take you way farther than getting thrown to the wolves at a Perkins. Avoid the bad habits, you'll thank me later.
     
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  6. dectra

    dectra

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    My brother in law LOVES Perkins. Me, I never understood the appeal. Always struck me as a Denny's level of food.
     
  7. Transglutaminase

    Transglutaminase

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    Uh, when I was 14/15 was working part time in a couple kitchens, Like srsvirgil mentions, not sure what the labor laws are in your area.
    Started as a pot washer (yes, even the stationary steam kettles) then after 3 days, they had me doing prep, which was kinda fun.
    Another place was just salad prep, supposedly just "helping out" relatives, but actually got sent a pay cheque from the hotel.
    ..Worked graveyard cleanup crew at a frozen food mfr. (THAT was horrible)
    Didn't last long at any of them..too many other distractions.. as a kid.. ;-)
    G'Luck! :)
     
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  8. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Sounds like we had similar starts in this business. I started out at 14 working in my uncle's restaurant during summer breaks, weekends and holidays. It was definitely not legal for a 14 year old to work in a kitchen where I lived, especially the hours that I worked. But, things were very different back then.
     
  9. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    As others have said, a lot depends on the local laws, but you can probably work in restaurant kitchen, even as line cook, if the restrictions are followed. Some of the restrictions I've seen pop up in numerous places are:
    -limiting the amount of hours you can work in a week (if in school)
    -limiting the number of hours you can work in a day
    -limiting the latest time you can work, if followed by a school day
    -limiting the equipment you can use (most places don't allow those under 18 to run electric slicers

    As for getting a line job with no experience; it is doubtful, but it really depends on the type of place. Best bet is to get a dish job or prep job and show them what you are made of. If you've got talent, and the drive to learn, you will move up pretty quickly, if the chef or manager pays any attention.
     
  10. SustainableTable518

    SustainableTable518

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    A long time ago, I actually worked full time as a cook senior year of high school. I only had 3 classes to finish so lots of time to work. The year before that I worked part time in the same restaurant. Yes, there is a job for you out there. Get some references - job related or personal - and sell your reliability, dependability, teamwork - all your skills that will make you an asset in the kitchen.