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Advice on getting feet wet, fast

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
Morning all,
Like a number of postees on this forum, I am considering a career change into the big, bad culinary world. Four years ago I made a similar 180 degree career switch successfully, so I do have some insight into what it takes to make such a transition. Since I don't really know if I'm cut out for this line of work, I plan to follow the advice that's been repeated throughout this forum and get 'real' cooking experience first.

This is where the call for help comes in: for one, I'm 30 years old, and my youthful, brash confidence just ain't how it used to be. Okay, that aside, my only paid restaurant experience was waiting tables at Dennys 10 years back. I've never done line work, period.

My questions:
1. How do I convince an employer, especially one with a successful kitchen, to take on a totally unexperienced, untrained, not so very young, female? I do know how to boil/steam/stir-fry/bake, but I don't have any real knife skills, so to speak.

2. What type of kitchens ought I target? The big, busy ones, or the smaller establishments? On etiquette: should I just go to the restaurant in person, with a ready resume in hand, or is it better to call first?

3. I have some money set aside, so I'm prepared to work for free in the beginning. Should I willingly advertise this to potential employers, or save it as a bargaining tool? While I want to come across as motivated and serious, but I don't want to give the mistaken impression that I'm desperate, either.

Sorry for making this so long, but I'd truly appreciate any advice/insight. This forum and the candid, honest postings I've read thus far have been extremely informative. Thank you in advance!!
post #2 of 2


Here is a run down of my opinion. I Own a restaurant, Have been Corporate Chef for many years, Food and Beverage Director etc...So I Think I might be able to offer a bit of insight.

Hope this is not out of line but 'i have to ask. You said you changed professions 4 years ago. Why again so soon? Really contemplate why you are looking to change again. This process is time consuming and costly in many ways.

That Said:
1. Gain experience by working. Duh Chef Bubba! You will really need to sell yourself to get in the door. I would suggest working in a place that is not culinary intensive such as fast food. Just for a short time. Learn some basic skills this can teach you. Then Step Up. Find a job that is more culinary skill intensive. That way when the employer asks, why them? Your answer will be, "Because you have learned everything they can teach you, and you want to learn more. Grow more....". Understand? Stepping Stones. You could go to culinary school. That would open doors quicker. Do not fear rejection form kitchens at first. It will happen with your skill level.
Never call!!!! NEVER!! Go in in person. LAZY People Call!! Never work for free!!! NEVER!!! No self respecting Employer can do that anyway.

Hope that helps!

Now, I have to be brutally honest. Just because you like cooking or eating does not make a sound reason for a culinary career. The road is hard and uphill. Week ends and holidays are the norm. Kitchens are HOT. Stress is High. Work weeks can be killers. Long hours. If you are afraid of working, and working hard, do not do this. Culinary work is not a job its a life style. Meet some people that do it for a living and get some other people's opinions. They will probably contrast mine. Find out all you can. Look at it seriously. Follow your heart, but take the road only after laying out a solid road map!
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