Recommendations from professional chef

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by Kcin, May 9, 2018.

  1. Kcin

    Kcin

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    Hi everyone! I’ve just created my account for this post. I have some questions to ask chefs or anyone could answer my questions.
    First of all, I’d like to tell my information. I’m 28 yrs and graduated from Business school and worked in retail business for a while. I had a chance to continue my master in the U.S. I was helping my family running restaurant business in Boston for a year and I realized that I wanted to work in the kitchen, being a cook. Then I went to Culinary school for A.S. Culinary arts to gain some skills and I did pretty well from my school.
    I know this industry is tough. Now I get paid at $14/hr in Boston and my family does not agree with me to continue my job. My family wants me to come back and work with them again as a manager since they’re expanding and need help. I will get paid at my family restaurant about $21/hr. I know myself that I still want to learn and be a cook in my heart. I try not to think about the money but I can’t.

    - Am I stupid or not to say No to my family? They will hire other people instead of me. But they want me so bad and wish I could come back. Any ways I can succeed from being a cook and get higher paid.

    - Is that really bad for$14/hr for being a line cook in Boston? Should I find a new restaurant? Now, I’m trying to find another job to prove my family but I know my skills are not professional and I don’t have work exp in the kitchen before.

    - My family suggested me to work as a cook in hotels. They said I would get benefits, insurance, career growth and etc. Is that better than working in the restaurants?

    Any suggestions or motivations? I won’t give up for being a cook but just want to know what My family and I thinking are right or wrong.

    Sorry for my English.
    Thank you. I will check every comment and I appreciate your time as well.
     
  2. iceman82

    iceman82

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    I ain't gonna sugar coat it, working in restaurants can really be a drag. There is no benefits, there is no raise increase on the regular, and you will never make a lot of money. You might make more as a kitchen manager or chef, but there is really only so much you can make there, not to mention the time and effort you have to put in to get a chef or management position.

    I would hate to tell you that you should give up on your dreams, but you should be thinking about the pros and cons of everything you do. There is always some sort of risk involved with any decision you make.

    Hope this helps,
    here to discuss,
    --IceMan
     
  3. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Hi Kcin and welcome to Cheftalk! :)

    I will answer the questions in the order they were asked.

    - Am I stupid or not to say No to my family? They will hire other people instead of me. But they want me so bad and wish I could come back. Any ways I can succeed from being a cook and get higher paid.

    Why not work for your family? If they are willing to pay you $21/hour and you will have a fair amount of control over what happens in your family's kitchen, I don't see any reason not to work for your family. There is no reason why you wouldn't be able to learn various skills in your family's kitchen.

    - Is that really bad for$14/hr for being a line cook in Boston? Should I find a new restaurant? Now, I’m trying to find another job to prove my family but I know my skills are not professional and I don’t have work exp in the kitchen before.

    Based on your level of experience and skill, $14/hour in Boston is in the range for someone who is just staring out. Could you do better in some other restaurant? Maybe. But, this is the business that you chose. It seems as thought you are obsessed with proving something to your family. But, from where I'm standing, they are offering you $21/hour to work in the family restaurant, so it seems to me from that offer alone you don't have to prove anything to them.

    - My family suggested me to work as a cook in hotels. They said I would get benefits, insurance, career growth and etc. Is that better than working in the restaurants?

    If you are judging what's "better" based on salary and benefits alone, then, yes. Working in a hotel kitchen is most likely going to be better. However, if you are talking about judging the matter based on learning and developing skills, that's a much harder question to answer without knowing the details of the kitchen. I would guess that you would learn at least some new skills in the hotel kitchen.

    I started out working for family in a kitchen a long time ago. I was taught by my uncle who was the best chef I ever knew. I don't say that because he was my uncle and I loved and admired him. I mean he was the best chef I ever knew. His knowledge and understanding of cooking was unparalleled. He could execute the most complicated recipes and rechniques just as well as he could operate a griddle. I learned everything I know about cooking and the business from my family which is why I am confused as to why you would be so unwilling to work for yours. What's the worst that could happen? If you don't like it, get another job. Its that simple.

    In this business, you get very few advantages and opportunities, especially when it comes to money and job security. If your family is offering you $21/hour and the job security of working in your family's kitchen, that sounds like a great deal to me. How much you learn in your own family's kitchen is directly up to you.

    I hope this helps.

    Good Luck :)
     
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  4. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Some of my best gigs were when I was Chef/Manager. I would express to your parents how much you love the kitchen but, you also want to be engaged in the kitchen. I know for a fact you "Can have your cake ad eat it too"...ChefBillyB
     
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  5. panini

    panini

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    I personally think the biggest void in the US hospitality work force is the lack of knowing numbers. Considering almost every decision is based on them.
    Things may have changed in the last 45 years, but I found it was a waste to go back for a masters while searching for some validation fregarding my business concept. There was nothing relevant, the course books were written 50 yrs. prior.
    If you have business knowledge, I would figure out just what part of cooking you like and fast track your way to an executive level.
    I have owned food related businesses all of my adult life. (unlike chefbillyb) I forced my children away from food service. They learned the value of a dollar though. If they wanted one of those computer games, they came down and scooped cookies.
    But as far as making it their career, ain't no f'in way.
    Still no certification programs, less than primitive environment, abuses of all kinds, etc. Not all, but most. The worst is the brainwashing whether it be from internal sources, media, etc. I grown to detest the word passion. This industry bastardized that word forever. I get sick when ever someone posts and states how they are being abused hourly. "But it's ok, I'm passionate about cooking" Teachers, first responders, etc. are passionate about their work. There is no law stating that cook/chefs etc. have to work 60+ hours a week.
     
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  6. foodpump

    foodpump

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    Most hotels cannot guarantee a cook will get 40 hrs a week, nor can they guarantee you will get 160 hrs a month. Benefits almost always come with f/t employment.

    Managing a family business has its own set of challenges, new ideas, changes, better way of doing things are very hard--if not impossible to implement.

    From my point of view, I'd work and expose myself to as many different kitchens as possible before I lock myself down to one employer...
     
  7. sgmchef

    sgmchef

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    Greetings Kcin!

    Since you have stated you want to be a cook three times, here are my thoughts…

    Maybe you could work for your family under the condition you work in the kitchen once or twice a week. A slower path to becoming a chef for sure, but family could be more important to you than rapid gain of knowledge and experience. Your call.

    I like the suggestion of working in a hotel, with a different little twist. Conceptually, I think of cruise ships as a potential crucible of learning. There are definite similarities to a large hotel. Both will have a "fine dining" restaurant, a banquet department, and a pastry department at a minimum. Biggest difference is that hotels are on land, which presents more opportunities for distraction from your goal. On a ship you are trapped and can't really go anywhere except into the water! Your “free” time could be spent gaining knowledge and experience. When you finish your assigned duties, you could drift into one of the other kitchen areas, like the pastry department, and offer to give a hand. Some will have additional specialty restaurants as well, like a French Bistro or an Italian place run by a chef from that country.

    When I was starting out, I worked at a bakery from midnight until 7 in the morning, made a delivery on my way to culinary school, classes from 7:30 AM until 3:30 P.M., did homework till six, sleep, up at 11:30 PM and repeat. Full-time job and a full-time student. I work for free at a local butcher shop every Saturday morning.(Construction on the meat cutting lab at school was not complete until after graduation and I felt I needed that knowledge!) Not much of a social life, but there is just so much to learn! I'm retired and still learning!

    Based on what you have shared, I believe that you will have success! Your understanding of the business side of the house can only help. Your knife skills, knowledge of techniques, and knowledge of ingredients will just take time and experience.

    As usual, the effort you apply is proportional to the benefit you gain.

    I hope you share what you decide!

    Good luck!
     
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  8. capricciosa

    capricciosa

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    If I were in your shoes, I would go back to the family business. Although there are certain things I love about working with food, at the end of the day, being a chef is more or less just paycheck to me and countless others in this industry.

    If you're truly passionate about cooking, then try to find a way to translate that into your family's business. You said they already own a restaurant, so I doubt that it would be hard to do. Be creative with daily specials, be a hands-on manager/owner-operater, etc. Find a way to express your passion in a way that also pays more.

    Also, I don't know what most restaurants pay in Boston, but $14 is barely enough to live for a major city like Boston. I make that in rural Tennessee and do just fine, but I can't imagine living on that salary in Boston.

    As foodpump also mentioned, a lot of hospitality jobs are only part time. I personally won't work anywhere that gives me less than 40 hours, and I prefer 50, but that has limited my choices to a handful of restaurants in my local area and even in my current job I have to fight for hours. The restaurant I work at needs me, but I also need them. It's sort of a mutually assured self destruction type scenario, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone just starting out in this industry. Again, go back to your family business, if for noone else than yourself.