Willing To Do Anything-Getting Into Fine Dinning

Joined Nov 16, 2009
So I have been trying for sometime now, to get a position at a fine dining restaurant. Since this would be my first venture into to fine dining, I’ve been open to any and all position that would allow me to gather experience. I have even offered my services for free.

For the last several months I have been working at a Bistro and previous to that I worked at Houston's, where I started as prep cook and work my way up to the line. A majority of my experience does not lie professionally in the culinary world, for up recently I sat behind a desk in a corporate environment. Currently, I am working on getting my A.A. degree in culinary arts from my local community college.

What do I need to do to get my foot in the door? I have been sending my resume along with a cover to nearly ever fine dining establishment in the Los Angeles area. I am literally willing to do anything, so I may gather more experience and learn. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated......
Joined Jan 29, 2010
I am not trying to be rude but you really need to edit what you write if you want to come across as intelligent. It is important when writing an email or cover letter to prospective employers that it cleary communicates your desire to work in fine dining and also highlighting your previous experience. I can say as someone who is responsible for hiring that when I read cover letters that are filled with misspellings or incorrect grammar their resume hardly gets a real look. Also if writing really isn't your thing or you don't have anyone to draft a letter for you that you can send out then simply go to the restaurants and ask to talk to the chef. Chefs often have people stop in through the day whether a salesperson or a delivery driver introduce yourself and inquire if they are hiring. When I run ads for help I always put the company address and encourage filling out applications or delevering resumes in person, people that are truly motivated to work take the time to come in. While at times this may be a nuissance I have always found my best help this way.
Good luck.
Joined Oct 19, 2009
The simplest way is to stop looking for kitchens to you teach you things and learn yourself.

I gave up being a chef for 4 years after a 6 year career; where I fought for every bit of knowledge I could get.

I bought books; I practiced; I learned; I developed.

After a 4 year gap I went and cooked a demo for one of the top-5 chef's in the country and was offered a head chef position (which I've subsequently turned down!).

If you're capable and driven enough to learn by yourself; don't be afraid. Some of the best chefs in the world are totally self-developed.
Joined Nov 16, 2009
I am not looking for someone to teach me but instead to gain experience in fine dining, which I have not yet had the opportunity to work in. So I hoping to gain some insight on how I may do that. I am willing to do whatever it takes for that opportunity.....
Joined Feb 21, 2007
if your not looking to learn and gain experience then give up now.... no one knows everything i have been cooking for 10 years and i learn something every day. to get in talk to every chef, go in the back doors and try and get a prep cook or even dishwasher spot to get you into a kitchen
Joined Feb 5, 2010
One of the problems you may be having - aside from experience - is the economy. I work in a fine dining restaurant at a luxury resort and honestly, we're three people down right now and won't be hiring because the economy is so bad. Business is ridiculously slow these days and we simply can't afford more staff. Our low end - which is still fairly up there, we are who we are after all - restaurant is doing better, but their business is still down. Because of all of this restaurants that do have the ability to hire staff have huge pool of qualified - and over qualified - applicants to choose from.

Additionally, because of insurance and liability issues, as well as new(ish) laws in CA there are reasons you can't technically “volunteer” in a kitchen anymore.

I'm not trying to discourage you from the field, far from it, but knowing what you're up against can help you strategize how to get what you want. I tend to agree with a previous poster who advised walking in and talking to the chef. If you don't have a ton of experience, winning them over with your enthusiasm, desire and passion may be your best bet. Just don't show up during the lunch or dinner rush, that's just annoying. :)

Best of luck!
Joined Jan 2, 2010
know how you feel, i'v been there. i got lucky, answered an add not knowing that it was fine dining. i got hired to work in the panrty of a 4 star resort cuz they were desperate at the time a week before christmas and new years. they kept me on full time because i proved to them i could cook. some of the best chefs i'v worked with will tell you that it's all about experience, school was a waste of time. thats what they say at the bar after work, not in the office when your being interviewed. if you have experience, and your a student, you know what your doing for the most part, then you have a lot more to offer than the average pantry staff. put that out there and by eager, be confident, and don't be afraid to ask questions if you have to. don't try and wing it if it's something your not sure about. easiest way to piss someone off is ruining something you didn't admit you hadn't done before
Joined Sep 29, 2009
There's your problem right there. With little or no culinary experience, you need to show up. Just walk in the front door, resume in hand, and talk to the chef. Go when nobody is in the dining room, or you'll come across as completely clueless.

Face to face, to me at least, shows real desire and drive. If he doesn't say yes and doesn't say sod off, keep after it. Don't be a pest but be persistent. Good luck.
Joined Apr 12, 2007
i am currently dealing with a similar problem,  hired a guy to work the fryers, pretty easy job, and he claims to have 15 years fine dining experience but just needed a job.  shouldnt be a problem, right.... well, he has a bad attitude, is lazy, and his food, mind you its just fried food, comes out looking terrible, then when you tell him its not good enough, he cites the 15 years fine dining.... etc.   and he is still confused why his hours are getting cut back.   then my dishwasher asked me if he could get a shot at working that side because he wants to learn and likes what we make.  tonight was his first training shift, he was running all over ( in a good way) asking questions and very excited, his food is already better looking than the "pro".  when asked at the end of the night how it went, he responded "I LOVE it".  hes got the job, the other guy is out the door.  so, if your lacking knowledge, a good attitude and work ethic will get you far!
Joined Aug 11, 2000
I've worked with externs from the local culinary schools....the last one volunteered for a benefit....we worked two days straight putting together donated food from 15 of the top chefs in STL....as well as
prepping donated local food (deviled eggs, sweet potato biscuits and ham, potato chips, taquitos, pork shoulders)   He showed up on time, prepared to learn and work.  After that weekend I forwarded his info to a couple of fine dining chefs looking for prep cooks...he staged at one of the best in town and is now sous at a new place.

Join ACF/Chef's d' Cuisine....they've got a juniors educational program.   

Before you show up at a restaurant look up their menus on line and wiki any terms you don't know.
READ....seriously, go to the library  and check out fine dining cookbooks....if you can afford it dine out....even if it's aps at the bar.   

Dig through archives of cheftalk.  Not every chef is the same......there is a decades' worth of inside knowledge on this site, many threads relating to what to look for in a job or the differences between teaching chefs and others.....there are many "fine dining" options than just restaurants....country clubs, event sites, off-site catering, exec kitchens....
One of my friends is an exec over 5 restaurants:
one is like a scratch Panera
one is tex-mex
one is family Italian
one is tapas South/Central American
one on hold is a fine dining steak house.

He opened the "fast food" place first and brought in a cook he'd worked with to open the first place then move on to the finer dining place.....there was a lot to learn in the fast food place, seriously you can learn inventory, menu development, how to reduce waste, staff training, ordering, making money....

Joined Mar 5, 2010
 Orange07, Gaining Experience means being taught.  I am the Executive Chef at a Fine Dining style Western Restaurant in China, and I am always learning, I have been in the restaurant industry for 23 years now, and I look for something new to learn every day.  You NEED to be willing to be taught, you need to be willing to learn.  You say you will do anything it takes, sometimes it takes being taught.
Joined Aug 21, 2009
Orange07 you have been given some really good advice here.  Learning is everything and you should always be learning by either teaching yourself or watching others.  The more you learn the better you will become at what you do. 

The fast food comment completely agree with... there is alot to learn there.  I'm not afraid to admit that my first job in this business was at a quick serve place.. Tim Horton's and I was one of the bakers.  I learned alot there and it has helped me along and still does to this day. 
Joined Sep 29, 2009
He opened the "fast food" place first and brought in a cook he'd worked with to open the first place then move on to the finer dining place.....there was a lot to learn in the fast food place, seriously you can learn inventory, menu development, how to reduce waste, staff training, ordering, making money....

Something else that can be learned from quick service jobs, flat iron grilling.  It is, in my opinion, the most versatile stovetop on the planet.  Where else can you sear a steak and reduce a sauce when the dish washer hasn't caught you up on pans yet.

That was an odd thought, but it really is a gem to have one around.
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