Would you rather hire a cook with experience or a certificate?

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by sgmchef, Apr 16, 2018.

  1. Certificate

    12.5%
  2. Experience

    87.5%
  1. sgmchef

    sgmchef

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    Hi Cheftalk,

    I ask this question to perhaps assist aspiring Chefs to hear from Chefs and owners about their views on young cooks beginning their culinary journey. Just like the kitchen, there are tons of variables and no right or wrong answers. The obvious answer is both, of course, but for the young cooks out there trying to make decisions about the costs and time of certification your answers might help their process.

    This does apply primarily to the USA, since many nations require certification. If you wanted to open a restaurant in, say Germany, you must have certification, regardless of experience.

    So, what do you think?
     
  2. planethoff

    planethoff

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    It depends on the position I was looking to hire for and what my long term goals were for that person.

    If I had a well established, busy place, I would take experience over credentials any day.

    If I were starting a new concept and looking to groom a potential exec chef, I would take degreed with proper attitude.
     
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  3. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    I just want willingness to learn, follow directions, have common sense and never say no.
     
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  4. sgsvirgil

    sgsvirgil

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    Experience all day, every day. Hands down.
     
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  5. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    I like Chefbillyb's answer. A degree would be alright but not without the rest. I went to school with people I would never hire and worked with experienced people who didn't have a clue. Depends more on the individual than anything else.
     
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  6. cheflayne

    cheflayne

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    To be honest, I am not swayed by either one as much as I am by attitude. Skills can be taught, experience can be gained, and knowledge passed on; if the mindset is right. I have seen candidates where their perception of their knowledge and skill level were a detriment. They already knew everything. I have also seen candidates where their perception of their experience and skill level were a detriment. They already knew everything.

    Having to unteach people, can be a real pain!
     
  7. harrisonh

    harrisonh

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    experience OR education are NOT mutually exclusive
     
  8. sgmchef

    sgmchef

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    Hi harrisonh,

    I can only guess you missed "The obvious answer is both, of course,".

    I only posted this question for the possible benefit of young cooks starting out and trying to choose between attending an expensive school or just start working in a kitchen and learn while getting paid. I just wanted the point of view of the many professional chefs out there that actually have to sort out the pros and cons between applicants and make the decision which gets hired.
     
  9. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    We all know how far a good attitude goes in the kitchen. I sent my Son to Culinary school so I wouldn't kill while training him. In many ways I don't want to much knowledge coming into my operation. I want basic skill and knowledge of Other sauces, Stocks, sauces and gravies. If they bring to much baggage I have to hear that song we all know so well. The song is " We did it this way in the last place I worked" I never want to hear that song again.
     
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  10. redbeerd cantu

    redbeerd cantu

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    For the benefit of any new cooks in school looking to get into the kitchen life: it is EXTREMELY important to be aware that knowing how to prep, cook, present, and maintain safety and sanitation is merely a skill set. What they don't teach in culinary school-at least, none that I've experienced or heard of-they don't teach you line work. Working the line is its own separate beast. It would be a shame for one to graduate from a culinary academy with a certificate, or even from a college with a degree, with dreams of their whites remaining as such, their polished shoes remaining as such, and their expectations remaining as such.

    Having attended college to study culinary, I saw many people crack. Yes, the pressure is tough and the good schools can be demanding, time being the largest factor. But NOTHING comes close to working the line during the standard breakfast/lunch/dinner rush. Mother's Day, Valentines, Thanksgiving, Xmas? Fuhgeddaboutit!

    If one can, get yourself a job in a kitchen while you attend school. This way, when you graduate and show up to your first interview with your shiny, new certificate/diploma in tow, you can ask the Chef, "It's Friday...how many covers we lookin' at?"

    Peace
     
  11. foodpump

    foodpump

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    When, oh when will the culinary schools take the hint from Europe, heck even take the hint from other trades in the U.S. and make exoerience PART of the education?
     
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  12. jimyra

    jimyra

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    The culinary program I attended required an internship. I spent three months working the line 50-60 hours a week.
     
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  13. chefwriter

    chefwriter

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    My school didn't require/offer enough real experience at the time. My third job after graduation I told the chef in the interview that the last two jobs hadn't taught me much about working a line. I didn't feel I had enough experience and wanted to work in someplace I would get experience and learn. After hiring me, he was a bit irritated to find out I hadn't been lying.
    Now I find that quite funny.
     
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  14. cheflew

    cheflew

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    I would much rather go with experience.

    Why? That degree does not mean that person has any idea how to apply the knowledge they learned in the kitchen. Sure they can conduct math, and they can be a money person but if I'm hiring them, more than likely I'm already doing that or as is my accountant.

    Personally I got my degree from Le Cordon Bleu (I'm not bragging just stating facts), and as such I learned all of the ways to prepare a classic Bechamel (using veal), demi glace (most people don't understand there is a demi-glace sauce, and a demi-glace that is made from reducing a traditional stock or estouffade until it is itself a sauce), heck I even had a short stint at Alinea while Curtis Duffy was there as the Head Chef (they were two Michelin star but were awarded their third that following year when the new guide was published which technically makes them a 3 at the time?) lol. Molecular Gastronomy and de-constructive cooking types just aren't my cup of tea, although they are really cool.

    At this point I already had YEARS of experience in the industry including being a head chef but it was at that weird time in the early 2000s where everyone wanted you to have a degree no matter how much experience you had (if anyone remembers that). MAYBE that was just in Illinois.

    Anyway, I even attended an apprenticeship after that for CEC (experience with ongoing education etc) with the ACF. I eventually finished and certain things happened, so I never took the exam, (I destroyed my shoulder) blah blah blah. Long story short comparing Le Cordon Bleu vs Apprenticeship (hands on full time work 4,000+ on the job education) the apprenticeship is waaaaaaaaaay above and beyond. You just cannot compare experience vs education.

    In my experience as chefbillyB stated, most new comers from culinary school and a degree without experience "GASP That's NOT HOW WE DID IT......IN CULINARY SCHOOL!!!!!".

    Le Cordon Bleu, 4 hours to make 3-4 different dishes that you get graded on. My last stint on the line? Almost every day we would be slammed with 70 covers in 30 minutes.....constantly. (Del Frisco's) A person fresh out of school wouldn't even know where to start. But that adrenaline rush, oh man, that adrenaline rush! Plus the accomplishment of "WHOA, I just served xxxx amount of people in xxxx amount of time", there isn't much of a psychological boost like it anywhere, not to mention there can also be a psychological beat down too lol. I've had my butt handed to me more than once on the line because we are slammed and understaffed etc.

    Then again, just as Chef Layne and Chefwriter said, there are some people with experience that just don't have a clue. I also agree with Redbeerd Cantu, there are soooo many young chefs out there that become disillusioned after culinary school because they see people on T.V. cooking and having a nice chat, and they get hired for a line cook position; BOOM even just 5 tickets at a time is enough to get them flustered and they FREEZE.

    But it's okay, I'm there to swoop in and save the day.


    Sorry about the long post but all in all it's about whether someone is willing to learn and follow directions. Even if it's hard for culinary students to get hired, "in my area at the time, yea....finding a job was tough" so just run around and stagiere at a bunch of different places, you'll learn fast.

    90% up to us as chefs whether the person fails or not. We are there to teach and show them what to do, after all we are the BOSS, and if there's a problem in my kitchen because my guys aren't getting it done, it's MY responsibility to find out WHY! Even if I have to sit there and tell the person "take out the sea bass, season it, give it some color, throw it in the oven. Heat the clarified butter, throw in the Brussels sprouts, toss, etc. etc." eventually that repetition will catch on. It's just generally harder with someone from culinary school because culinary school in America does not mirror the professional setting in America.


    Again TL;DR I know. Just my two cents.

    Cheers!
     
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  15. zeph zpiteri

    zeph zpiteri

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    nice read chef :)
     
  16. zeph zpiteri

    zeph zpiteri

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    you have something wrong in your post as I've read it multiple times and even tho I'm into my second bottle of Foxey's Hangout's shiraz I'm sure it doesn't make sense when I read it.

    However I agree with you on the two points I think you're trying to convey ... Attitude .. which is a key factor when I'm recruiting staff and the having to unteach people bit.

    cheers!
    zeph
     
  17. chefross

    chefross

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    I didn't read what you read into it. Indeed attitude is very important. A person's perception of both their experience, knowledge, as well as skill level can be a detriment. They make you believe they can do something. You take the time to show them how you want it and walk away. Half hour later you came back and see that they took it upon themselves to change the parameters because they thought it was better.
    Sorry....I understood cheflayne quite well......perhaps it was the Syrah.....?
     
  18. foodpump

    foodpump

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    If they bring to much baggage I have to hear that song we all know so well. The song is " We did it this way in the last place I worked" I never want to hear that song again.[/QUOTE]

    Ah, that song.
    My response to that song is:
    "That's nice. You're in ( name of establishment) "x" now. You do it the "X" way because that's what "X" customer expect and pay for. Now, are you going to show me you're competent enough to follow orders, or are you stupid enough to get fired on your first week?"
     
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  19. peachcreek

    peachcreek

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    Where you got your education isn't as important as knowing what you know and what to do with it. Work is about the here and now and where you are going, not so much how you got here.
    My opinion.
    Peachcreek
     
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  20. panini

    panini

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    It sounds like most are referring to the hot side of the kitchen. Now in the bakery, you know, the skilled culinary art, it's a bit different.
    Instead of pulling a steak out of the box and cooking it, those of us on the skilled culinary pastry side, well we have to make our steaks and then cook them.
    Jesting. Personally, if I had my choice to hire someone with vast experience, or a newbie culinary grad or even a career changer with home baking experience (more to risk to them), I would chose the latter.
    As some have mentioned, the song! The song doesn't bother me but I get infuriated when a new hire is shown something, does it that way while you're there. Then go back to their way after you've gone.
    Did I tell you I've switched out my cameras in the kitchen, to cameras with audio. Better than TV when you work out of the house. Just kidding.
    Actually, just signed for another 15 yrs. If one of the professionals here knows of someone looking for a change, we are moving forward. Grooming my niece to step up. I'm backed out already. We're looking for the right person to join the family. After some probationary time and better than average compensation I'm willing to hand over a risk free, no buy-in, no business debt since 2001, equal % ownership. I'm posting something on the other board, interns or something.
    We were named in one of the small business rags as "a hospitality industry anomaly". 22 yrs. same location, showing an increase in revenue every year since inception. Even through the 2008+ period. Very nice interview. At the airport exec. lounge. She ordered in fast food.
    Finished my coffee, looked around. She bolted and left me with the tab. Nice!
     
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