Starting Over in the Industry...

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by kaiquekuisine, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    So guys i´m not any new poster but i have a situation that i would love your opinions and wisdom on answering. So if you could please share some knowledge and spare some time. Basically this is the situation I worked in the industry since i was 16. Started out as a recepcionist, moved on to Barman, Waiter, Recepcionist again ect... working in many positions in the FOH, just waiting for the day i could finally cook in a kitchen like i always dreamed. One glorious day when i was working at a decent place a salad cook quit and they needed a body in the kitchen. That was me i guess, and how i ended up working in the kitchen (at 18  years old). I was able to meet a great chef who was willing to give me a free eduacation, teach me everything she could and knew and at the end pay me for it. So 1 month later im a line cook at a great place, and i realize i actually can be a good line cook. So yeah I worked in the line for a little over a year. I had some great experiences, worked in a few places, did gigs, culinary competitions, wine pairing dinners, a bunch of things as i really did try hard to advance my career. But you know things happen and sometimes we are forced to leave the industry given certain circumstances. Had some personal family issues involving some loved ones in my family and i got an opportunity to work in a field i never considered (teaching). Anyway after over a year in the industry i backed away and started teaching just to have some stability in my hours.

    Now after 18 months of teaching i want to return to the cooking industry. I have experience, i apprenticed for a year under a great chef. I haven´t gone to culinary school, but i went to trade school and vocacional school. Doing various courses lasting anything from 1 week to 18 months. So i don´t think im an idiot, I know how to prep food, know how to work clean, and know my basics and fundamentals. I´m confident with a knife, and i worked sautee/garnish/hot apps the entire time i was a line cook. I do think i´m a bit rusty since i have been doing a lot of home cooking, but i always do my best to pratice the techniques and fundamentals i have learned. 

    Anyway since i took a step back from the industry there´s this big 18 month old gap on my resume. And restaurants are a bit hesitant to hire me even for entry level positions, because they think i´m a noob. I have nothing against washing dishes, but its not where i want to be, plus i really fear that i´ll stay stuck on dish duty and not be noticed or given the opportunity to show i do have interest in cooking.

    Anyway this saturday i got an opportunity to stage at a restaurant. Its new and the owner used to frequently go to the other places i had worked before and ate a lot of my food, not knowing i was the cook that made her dishes. Anyway i want to give it a shot and go stage. The problem is that if i do okay on the stage she will hire me, but not to work the line and yes to work pantry and prep. 

    So basically where i want to get at is... 

    In my shoes would you take the position?? Would you work somewhere in the kitchen not involving the line that in hopes of getting your chance oneday?

    If i was given the opportunity to work prep/pantry i would take it, but would also have a talk and see if maybe i could work the mornings shifts for free and try to learn the menu AFAP and see if that would be an interesting deal to make, so that way i could maybe get on the line faster. 

    I just miss the line so much, and even though teaching was fufilling (at some point) and i am good at it, it doesnt give me that rush, and excitement the line ever has. I have loved to cook since i was a child. This industry was my life at some point and i want it to be my future.  

    Plus i did invest in trade school, staging, and an apprenticeship for a reason. I WANT TO BE A LINE COOK!! It´s so simple but lately it´s been fo hard to accomplish, when i was 18 and immature i was getting opportunities all over the place, worked my butt of for over a year on the line, and now at 21 it seems to have gotten harder to get cooking opportunities. 

    Alight alright, enough ranting.... 

    Opinions guys, what would you guys do?? Anyone go through something like this?? Advice.

    Thanks for wasting your time with little old me. 
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016
  2. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    You have the drive. You have a good foundation and work ethic. The restaurant is new, odds of turnover due to people not working out, besides being the nature of the beast, are probably high. Go for it, cream always rises to the top. I would anticipate a relatively short stay on pantry and prep. By the way, welcome back :~)
     
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  3. zaxmyth

    zaxmyth

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    Do you aspire to be anything beyond a "line cook" or is that your only goal? An apprenticeship is a great thing to have, and going to school is great for learning the basics, but other than that you don't seem to have very much experience which to me seems to be the reason why places are shying away from you. A culinary degree isn't worth the paper it's printed on without the real world experience to back it up. I would take the position and just work hard, do the best you can and see where it leads to. You're only 21, you have time to take a position like that to get your foot in the door and move up in the kitchen. I don't think anyone here who is serious about their career would do/has done any differently than that. Never stop learning, never stop practicing, and if you're serious about this as a career, aim higher than line cook. Make that a short term goal, not your final stop.
     
  4. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    My Goal in life isn´t to be a line cook. But i don´t see myself managing a kitchen anytime soon. I just loved working the line and i want to get back into it. 

    Obviously one day, after i have traveled, worked my butt off and had some great working experiences i would love to be a chef. But Rome wasn´t built in a day. 

    I said i would like to be a line cook, cuz right now, at this moment that is my goal. From there on the skys the limit my friend.
    Sup Cheflayne. Thanx as always always giving great advice. I love your metaphors too, imma steal them and use them during hard times lol. 

    And yes im back, and i don´t plan on leaving, so get ready to see my postings quite frequently. 

    Thanks for taking the time to answer. 
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2016
  5. zaxmyth

    zaxmyth

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    "Obviously one day, after i have traveled, worked my butt off and had some great experiences i would love to be a chef. But Rome wasn´t built in a day"
    "cuz right now, at this moment that is my goal. From there on the skys the limit my friend"

    Excellent attitude! That's the type of passion I like to see in my kitchen, I would hire you if you said that to me in an interview without a doubt. You'll go far with that thinking so take this opportunity, or any that you're given, and run with it brother.
     
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  6. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    I took a job at a place that had a very good reputation after I had taken a break from cooking and worked for 18months for a friend in the office of his construction company.

    I had been cooking for about 10 yrs by then and brought a lot of experience as a sous chef, the only problem was the only opening was for the weekday broiler cooking lots of burgers, steaks, etc. It was considered one step above pantry, I took it just to get my foot in the door and this place paid well. Six months later the sous left, I was moved up and about six months after that the chef got sacked for lewd comments to a server. I was promoted again and remained for five years until I left to pursue a huge unknown in off site catering.

    So keep up the good attitude and things will follow.
     
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  7. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Do not work for free. You will learn the menu, etc. fast enough. 

    Otherwise I agree with everyone else. Take the job, move up as you go. 
     
  8. grande

    grande

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    18 months isn't that long, imo. I'd hire someone after an 18 month break as though their experience was current.
     
  9. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    I guess i will give it a go. 

    I´ll keep everyone updated. Stage is on saturday!!

    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/laser.gif  woot!!
     
  10. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Don't give it a go...give it your all! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif
     
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  11. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    So guys like i had said, heres the update of today. 

    I went in to stage and i discovered that the majority of the kitchen crew is new. The oldest cook has been there since August. So the majority of them have been there for a few weeks, the younest being there a week. 90% of the cooks are very experienced, and have traveled to many countries working the industries so they definitely know there stuff. 

    Basically before my stage today they had just hired a new guy on Monday. 

    But they did give me an opportunity. Because theres always a change in staff they said i would be there first choice if anyone quit or wasn´t cutting it. I was very happy. 

    I worked salads, cold apps, juice, and helped out on prep and sautee. 

    I did my best to help everyone as much as possible in all stations, by the end of was floating.... 

    The crew really liked me, and when i came back from the bathroom, i heard all of them complimenting me to the owner, saying i should have been hired over the guy easy. 

    I felt great.

    At the end.... I got paid 60 bucks for the stage. Felt great. 

    And.... They offered me a job every friday and saturday during the lunch rush. 

    I accepted immediatly cuz i have been craving to cook professionaly again for sometime. 

    Cooking today felt like ecstacy, it was great. I felt some minor aches in the beginning but the body adjusted. I worked clean, fast, impressed the crew with my communication and willingness to help out on all stations (including the dish pit). I had lots of knowlege and they noticed i wasn´t a newb and saw i did have some experience. Even though my station was not the busiest they saw i did well, considering i received compliments and all. 

    The cooks are all nice people, very friendly to me. They hate the new guy though. A few days ago he sent a live snail on a clients salad. They all said he should be fired because he doesnt pick up the slack like me. Doesn´t really demonstrate confidence, seems always kind of aloof.  

    So at least i know that i´m still decent and not as rusty as i thought. 

    I cut my finger but didnt affect my performance. 

    The menu is very simple, you could memorize it really quick after maybe 2-3 shifts. I nice bistro, good food, nice people, nice price and nice environment. 

    The kitchen is amazing, top of the notch state of the art equipment. Never worked in a kitchen so well equipped with so much modern tech. It was FABULOUS. Loved every minute of it. It was great and i couldnt pass up the chance of taking the job. Since it is a new restaurant an the new guy does suck (i saw him work by the end of my shift), im sure eventually he may get fired, or someone will just quit or they will just hire me since i worked pretty well. At least i got the chance to show off what i got.

    At the end it all worked out, i got a job for Fridays and Saturdays during the lunch rush, the experience will be valid and pay off to put on my resume regardless and i get the chance to continue cooking professionally and start testing the water with this new place. Since ill only be doing 2 shifts a week (for now) that gives me time to memorize the menu, learn what is necessary and really focus, especially cuz the lunch rush is packed, im sure ill be able to learn quick. 

    Soon enough these 2 shifts a week will turn into a full time job. 

    Even if it doesnt work out (BUT I HOPE IT DOES AND IM SURE IT WILL) the experience is definitely valid. 

    In other words... TODAY WAS GREAT, LOVED IT, AND CAN´T WAIT TO RETURN NEXT WEEK. 
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
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  12. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    Congratulations!! That's the kind of update we all like hearing. Especially glad to hear you are with a good crew. Sounds like a place to stay and learn awhile. Keep up the good work. 
     
  13. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    Goodatcha! I am glad for you. Welcome back to the fold.
     
  14. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    That's great!
     
  15. neworleanscookj

    neworleanscookj

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    Congrats! @KaiqueKuisine!

    I'm so glad this thread is here and current, I am about to take up to 15 months of a hiatus to better some things about me that plagued me for years *Cough* Rehab! *Cough*. It's good to know that a break so long is not a for sure death blow. I'm not sure of the exact details of the program I'm entering in of their work program, but know that I will have the opportunity to be a (Possibly big?) part of it. It will most likely be of a commissary cook nature, which I guess is an alright experience in itself, but also will have no home kitchen to experiment culinary studies with. Coming from a work history of New Orleans scratch kitchens this worries me; there will be no farmers market, or fresh shrimp deliveries, or herb gardens where I'm going. I don't know what their kitchen is like. I'm not even sure I'll be allowed around a knife /img/vbsmilies/smilies/surprised.gif. Hopefully though, when all is said and done, I can still reenter the industry smoothly, and not work at Walmart. 
     
  16. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    I´m sure you will be find. I think it just necessary to be humble. I didn´t expect too much out of this job, i just wanted to do whatever i could and demonstrate that i wanted to work. 

    Being willing to work in a lower position helps i think. 

    But i didn´t even have so much cooking experience to begin with in my opinion so i was just happy to show the place what i had to offer. 

    You will be fine, and better then ever. Read books on your time and just try to maintain sharp. If you can´t get near a knife, that doesnt mean your brain can´t get near a book. Study on your own time and just be prepared. I said i didn´t feel so tired and adjusted quick to the rush and didn´t even feel pain. Well 5 hours later, i just woke up from a nap... maybe your body will tire out faster until you get adjusted. Granted though i would have worked 12 hours if they had asked, but i´m glad the place didnt.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif
     
  17. cronker

    cronker

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    Congrats
    But my only comment would be:
    Don't rely on others failures, rather be confident in your own success.
     
  18. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    I just felt the need to give you guys a heads up on what happened so far at my gig. 

    Basically i was going twice a week to work. 

    Last saturday a line cook was a no show and i ended up working a double shift. 

    Went from working lunch rush, did the dinner rush prep and worked during the dinner rush. 

    Worked from 9am-1am. Basically saturday afternoon (dinner prep) until 1am it was just me and the chef banging it out. I had never worked with the chef since i usually dont see him on my weekend mornings for more then a few hours. I worked my ass off and did everything to support him and show i was an effective and organized cook. I wasn´t being cocky i just wanted to show my willingness and show that i actually have some talent. 

    Now this guy was dubbed an a-hole by the morning staff, they described him as cranky and difficult to work with, but i worked fine with the chef, and just gave it everything i got. At the end me and him pulled off the entire dinner service just us two and ended the night on a high. 

    Today i get a whatsapp message from the restaurantes owner asking if i would be interested in a full time. Since i´m already finishing up my notice at my current job i said YES!!!
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2016
  19. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    Way to go!
     
  20. phaedrus

    phaedrus

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    Nice!  Sounds like things are going very well.