Why you should work in the food industry before going to school

Discussion in 'Choosing A Culinary School' started by cheflayne, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    I am not trying to dissuade any from this industry. I love this industry. I have been doing this industry for 40 years, but it is not all glamour, creativity, and adoration of swooning fans and foodies. There is a fair amount of tedium and repetition involved as well.

    Here is brief glimpse into the life as experienced by myself and my 4 other cohorts this week. On Saturday, we had 5 groups. The largest was 700. The smallest was 25. The total guest count was 1,350. The same counts were repeated on Sunday.

    Appetizer menu for one group:

    1,500 mini pizza bites, not premade shells nor any premade toppings, all toppings done by kitchen including the tiny meatballs

                   1.) grilled zucchini, roasted red pepper pesto, toasted pine nuts

                    2.) crispy pancetta, roasted garlic, fontina, and rosemary

                    3.) turkey gorgonzola meatballs, garlic, mozzarella, and marinara

    900 polenta rounds, basic same gig as pizza mini bites, no premade, presliced, precut, etc. etc. etc.

    Roasted garlic and parmesan polenta crowned with sautéed forest mushrooms and a truffle mousse, garnished with micro greens

    900 caprese salad skewers, same blah blah blah, hand picked basil leaves

                    Skewer with cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil

    12 gallon antipasta bowl

    1,000 double chocolate cherry brownie bites, sure you get the drift by now

    And that was just one party. Do about 20 mini pizzas, 20 caprese, 20 polenta, etc and see if your enthusiasm is till intact.

    Another one had a 10 item buffet for 300 guests with one item being a haricot verte and new potato Genovese.  Have you ever cleaned, stringed, and prepped 8 gallons of haricot verte?
    It is my strong recommendation that anyone considering going to culinary school as start to following a career path in the culinary arts, work in the industry for a bit before laying out a ton of cash for a formal education. Get a feel for it first.

    I am not by any stretch of the imagination against culinary school either. I attended and graduated from one. I also had been working in the industry for 10 years before attending school.

    Basic gist, know what you getting into before getting into it! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/chef.gif

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  2. kaiquekuisine

    kaiquekuisine

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    Couldnt agree more , i ended up working before going to school. 

    I love the industry , but now working at a place that does events daily , you really start to get pushed out of the comfort zone bit by bit ( or all at once ). 

    Last week we had a wedding , menu was simple , but simplicity requires perfection. 

    Oh but here is the twist , the wedding is a private event , that will be done in sync with our regular nightly service, so not only do we have an on site wedding but the restaurant is gonna stay open for our regular clientele. 

    Well the restaurant having 3 spaces definetly was a great idea ( just not so great for us cooking )

    Wedding menu:

    - Bruschetta ( also nothing premade ) 

    Bruschetta is not only for the wedding but also is part of our dialy menu so we had to prep about tomatoes , eggplant , cheese , and a putanesca since we offer 2 varieties....

    - House Salad ( basically 2 types of lettuce , arugula , dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes , shaves ages parm , roasted garlic , palm of heart and a sauce i make daily ) , once again nothing made ahead of time , and just washing these leaves full of dirt took a good chunk of time.

    Then we had 2 different type of pastas , and 2 different sauces , and a meat special. 

    But our regular menu for service contains over 40 dishes. 

    If that day we just had done the wedding , or stayed open for service , our odds would have been better , but doing both service and a wedding in 3 cooks was horrid. 

    The bride was to make it on site at 9 , we were to start apps early but service started booming so we had to lay off a bit to take care of the clientele , good thing the bride got delayed and only arrives at 11:30 at night -_- when service was even worse. 

    So i literally get off my station to start plating apps , while the 2 other cooks handle service <_< then the tickets start coming in all at once , i literally had to stop plating at one point , because i had to do desserts and help my comrades during service. Sent out all my salads in 25 minutes and started on hot apps.

    While sending out hot apps we had to grill 180 pieces of meat , one problem was that we got the wrong cut of meat , and our kitchen manager just forgot to tell us this after he left during his break. Had to clean and butcher a most of the thigh and back leg

    cleaning cuts like around the inside top round , tenderloin , rump sirloin , and eye round. 

    So the party was to start at 9 , started at 11:30 , ended at 2am , and we got all our food out while cooking for service as well. 

    During service i did cold line and desserts , and for the wedding did cold line , hot apps , and meat <_<

    Basically did around only 1/3 of what cheflayne did , but it was hell , only thing worse was me getting home at 3am , going to sleep at 4am to wake up at 9 to get to work at 10 to prep for lunch.

    Layne you are a beast XD  

    My first chef tells many who persue this industry that "  to be a cook , is almost like being a pastor , you dedicate most of yourself to one thing and do it with love " And boy was she dead on. 
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
  3. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    Chef Layne you have stated what I have been saying all along, well said sir! The truth is it is a hard, hot, gritty type of work and there is nothing really glamorous about it. Looking back as a young cook I worked 6-7 days a week never had time to date, when I did it was awkward because of my hours. Did not see my family much and spent tons of time lifting heavy pots, standing for 12+ hours a day. As a young man it was fine but it is a tough gig to subject your body to day in and day out of the years.

    Culinary education is so expensive now that it can literally put you in the poor house so you have to really understand what your getting into. My honest opnion is that you really don't need and expensive culinary school a good community college and a good local chef will teach you everything you need for a fraction of the cost.

    Thanks for the awesome post!
     
  4. etherial

    etherial

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    I love it, I sympathize, and I'm stealing your recipes!