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Where have all the trainees gone?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
:chef: Hello all chefs !

Just a quick question is it the same in America, Canada etc, etc... as in Scotland that there is no young commi chefs anymore. i found that most want to be running the sauce corner before they can control their knives to any great degree. If you do not lean to their demands they wish to move on or leave catering completely. And because the demand is greater than demand we struggle to replace them.
post #2 of 28
Cooks in general are getting hard to find. Competent cooks are almost non-existant. I'd suggest going to the local culinary school and trying to get some interns. Usually they're pretty cheap (often quite useless though). I blame modern culture - young cooks are delusional - they think the second they walk into a professional kitchen they're going to be a chef.
post #3 of 28
Sadly, here in Canada, everyone wants to be a "Chef" but the word "cook" is a dirty word. There are very few apprenticeships here, although there are some excellent community colleges. But to find a competant cook, one that can saute, poach, or roast properly, is pretty hard to find...
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
post #4 of 28
For years most of the kitchens in which I have worked have been staffed
almost entirely by Hispanics. I am as patriotic as the next person,
but, how can anyone expect an individual born into a culture of
fast food, microwave ovens, and pre pre pre prepared food, to
have any sort of natural talent in the kitchen. True talent on the line
seems to come from growing up in a home where three meals a
day are actually prepared in that home. I have had young immigrant
workers at 16 or 17 years of age run circles around culinary grads in
the kitchen. Of course they had been cooking at home since the age
of 6 or 7. Most countries around the world have a certain amount of
immigrant population that, sadly, are low on the financial totem pole.
This is attractive situation for all concerned. Take interest in
thier culture and language, be fair, and continue to teach. Remember,
not everybody can be a rocket scientist, there will be ditch diggers in
this world. If anyone is less than loyal, fire them.
When choosing a line cook, I look for a sense of loyalty, natural talent,
the ability to follow, and some sort of intelligence.

One could also make thier kitchen a desireable destination for young
cooks. Create a learning atmosphere that is never meant for permanent
employment. Create a kitchen where the majority of the hourly employees
cycle through every station in the kitchen and leave within a year taking
with them a strong letter of recommendation, and strong wellrounded work

Any how, if you are having a real hard time with committed line cooks
and prep cooks, find some people who really grew up in a culture of
food. nuff said.

even stephen
post #5 of 28
All good posts.
MikeB, one of the problems is that the culinary schools of old are now called chef schools.
even stephen, you're right on about creating an enviornment in which to attract people. Not bragging, but I have them waiting to get in.
post #6 of 28
I want to say that the apprenticeship program for cooks is slowly growing here in Ontario, I'm currently finishing my hours to write my papers and I do agree that a lot of young cooks think that they will jump from school right in to being Sous Chef's and I think that a lot of them need to start further down the line and work up to that through experiance.
However I think that the industry has changed to the point that there are no longer very many sauciers, or other starting positions in hotels and large restaurants.
Personally I want to learn as much as possible before I take on the responsibility of a Sous Chef, so if there is anyone who is offering good paying jobs to a soon to be journeyman in Canada let me know
post #7 of 28

trainees gone

Sadly no one want to work very hard anymore, a Cook,starting out has to listen to instruction,follow one more experience cook,work hard,ask questions,not talk back,say they know it but don;t.I see this everyday at my work, university campus,food services,I teach most of the new Cooks,the cooking schools are teaching lots of theory,little cooking.when a cook passes there course,its not a quick jump up the ladder to chef,lets cut the b.s.you have to learn to manage a kitchen,cost a menu,budget food cost,train staff,7 years is the normal life up to chef.The life of most chef;s today,me for one is 10 to 16 hours days,meeting .menus,costing labor,shifts,its lots of long days,functions to help,plating up a dinner for 700,banquet for 500,cooks quit,walk out,fights.This is the real world,let not sugar coat it,not one become a chef over night.
post #8 of 28

speaking from experience... not alot though

I am 22 now, i started my first apprenticeship begining of last year, i had worked as a kitchen hand for a year previously so i was not totally ignorant to the goings on of a kitchen, at first everything was good, i enjoyed what i did, and of course there was the usual first year apprentice's " jobs" like packing away things cleaning etc. but then there came abuse, being yelled at, food thrown at me. i didnt mind the long hours (9am till 12 dam split shifts) but after about 6 months i lost it, what was the point in trying my hardest when no matter what i did i would get shouted at and all the chefs kept going on about was " back in my day" so i left. in my break, i only regret one thing and that is how i left, i have no regrets about working there as i learned alot about the industry and about myself. The thing i found was that if the chefs had it tough when they first started out they have this pre-conceived idea that the next kid has to have it hard, i have now been at another place for nearly a year, and last month we won our second gold plate award, i have alot more responability now, orders, menu design ,general runnings of the kitchen ,and i do all the short orders ( it is a small restaurant). In australia there is currently a shortage of apprentices and i think it is because they think its gonna be easy and that there is lots of glamour in it ( like jamie oliver) i think they dont see how much effort and sacrifices go into it.
anyways just thought i would add my two bob.
---- The quickest way to do something is quickly----
---- The quickest way to do something is quickly----
post #9 of 28
I agree with all of the posts and have and continue to have the same experiences. I started in the business as a dishwasher, became a dishwasher/prep cook, then short order cook, line apprentice, etc. During that time I got my education. I often came in on my own time to work with the Executive Chef to learn and I stayed after hours for the same reasons. Kids today do not have the same work ethic. To a degree, I understand that it is more important to them then it was to my generation to have a life. They have to understand that in this business, graduating a culinary school with a degree does not make you a chef. Education and experience does. To solve my problem, I went to approximately 4 different schools before I found one that I could work with as far as hiring their graduates. So far, it's worked out pretty well and these kids quickly learn the realities of real life in a kitchen, not the protected environment of culinary school. IMO, you have to bend a little as times and kids are not what they were, but you do not reduce your standards.
post #10 of 28

I got your commi right here

I am the only cook in my kitchen that doesn't flinch at being called a cook, for them, cook is a dirty word, they all wanna be chef. I went to culinary school, but I loved to cook before I got there. Chef was so impressed with my efforts when I was commis, that he hired 2 more from my school. These two embarass me everyday. They just dont have the passion for it. That's why you cant find a good side kick to help ya out. Even if on paper they look fabulous, high end culinary schools/ref's, did you ask them what they cook at home? What type of food do they enjoy most? Who is their culinary hero?

When I am chef, those are the questions I will ask.
post #11 of 28
while im sick of this countries cultural deficiencies, your comment goes a bit far. infact it is totally without base. talent comes from love of the art and the craft, not whether or not you grew up in a dollhouse.
"Human that has eaten human must taste that much sweeter..."
"Human that has eaten human must taste that much sweeter..."
post #12 of 28
Perhaps I was a little to hard with my post. I spent part of my youth
growing up in the country. Here is an example of what I was trying to
say. I got a friend who loves horses. I have another friend that grew
up with nothing but land, horses, and cattle. My friend who loves horses,
has learned so much about horses and still loves them today. My friend
who grew up with horses knew more than my other friend will ever know
by the age of 16.
All I was trying to say, was, that food is a really a cultural thing. When
you grow up around a home where food is one of the most important things,
you develop earlier and will have a backround that might be more solid than
someone who came to love food and has taken the time to learn about it.
Love is not always talent when it comes to food. Imagine already knowing
how to make pasta, or, how to make a stock, or how to cure meat, or how
to make dozens of soups. Imagine already knowing what oils burn at lower
temps, or, that salt pulls liquid out of foods. Imagine already knowing these
things and more at the age of 16. Granted it is not classical training, but,
you have to admit it is a head start. Someone must agree with this form
of thought or at least come from a strong culture based on food. Kuan
perhaps? Please let me know what you think.

post #13 of 28
Food is what you make of it...
"It's Better To Regret Something You Did, Than Something You Didn't Do..."
- Flea (R.H.C.P.)

"The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."
- Joseph Stalin
"It's Better To Regret Something You Did, Than Something You Didn't Do..."
- Flea (R.H.C.P.)

"The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic."
- Joseph Stalin
post #14 of 28
"Human that has eaten human must taste that much sweeter..."
"Human that has eaten human must taste that much sweeter..."
post #15 of 28

Look inward....

My son just finished a stage at a Michelin rated place in Spain. There were 30 chefs and only one or two incompetents like were being discussed in the posts. Everyone else was ready, willing and able to move instantly. These are guys with major experience and low income expectancy.

If your kitchen is busy and creative there should be a crowd of guys available. In the back of every Michelin rated restaurant there are at least 30.
post #16 of 28
Its always been this way and probably won't change.
Food will change, but, the plain truth is I just have
not seen the workplace change. Management and
hourly staffers will continue to be the hardest working
people in showbiz, and the compensation will be
mediocre at best. Its a sad story, but I love doing
what I do.
post #17 of 28
Although I believe precisely in what you are saying, I do not think you understand what we are sacrificing. First off, michelin stars have no actual criteria and the ones laid out are mostly based on decor and service. Not food.
Second, I don't believe there is anything wrong with wanting to be able to eat at the end of the month with a little money left over.
Passion is important and creating an environment for that passion to thrive in is just as important, but why is it anytime we place passion in the work place we suddenly find ourselves with a decrease in pay.
Congradulatiions to your son and I hope that he is fulfilling his ambitions. But don't tell us what it is to be a cook simply because he is working in a restaurant that some regard as elite.
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
Whenever we cook we become practical chemists, drawing on the accumulated knowledge of generations, and transforming what the Earth offers us into more concentrated forms of pleasure and nourishment.
post #18 of 28
I can tell you it's the same in Ireland. I recruit chefs for a living and it's an uphill climb...
post #19 of 28

"trained under the 'old-school'"

in relation to the shortage of trainee's and decent commis chef's. Australia is short thousands of cooks/chefs. and worse we're short even more of GOOD PEOPLE. not that i can talk about this so much, i'm a first-year apprentice at a restaurant in sydney. Australia's workplace relations laws are very strict, and, as such, the old French traditions of assaulting apprentices and throwing things around the kitchen has died, but its now so regulated, that terrible cooks are still qualifying, and so as intake falls, standards drop, and we all get to work with drop-kicks. as the first-year, i expect to be screamed at, insulted, given the dirty jobs, because everyone else has DONE IT ALREADY, and i have no tollerance for youths with no work-ethic, the said individuals who want to be saucier, sous-chef, whatever the second they walk through the door in a white jacket.

from teh examples i've seen, i think kitchens need fewer men, but better. there are 3 people working the cold-larder section where i work. 2 is necessary, but 3 is a crowd, occasionally 4 on at a time! it's insane!.

anyway, that's my rant...i hate lazy co-workers.

and i dont mind being treated harshly, the harsh treatment i've recieved, has taught me well, i'll never cut a fat julienne again....
post #20 of 28

Trainees, what are those ??

Trainees, are there any of those anymore ?? I have worked with a few of the culinary school super "chefs" and I can tell you that most of them weren't worth a dam. I have worked in a few different countries, Brasil and currently Turkey,to name a few, and I can tell you that I had people with little or no experience do a fantastic job. These people wanted to learn because they knew if they didn't listen and watch that they could be back out on the street in a matter of no time. They were like machines, very consistant, always hard working and very respectful. These cooks I admire because they saw a chance to learn a skill, improve and possably move up the ranks and make some better money. New cooks in our culture are a bit harder to train, they lack the respect needed to improve and learn from someone with alot more experience. They look at the old hands as hasbeens and they don't take advantage of the skills that the old timers have to offer.
post #21 of 28

Be your own boss

Part of what set me apart from other cooks when I was "coming up", was that even though there was someone higher than me signing my check, I always negotiated my pay and did so on a performance basis because I knew I could become better and prove that I was of worth. Chefs, hire ambitious cooks and give'em props when they got it comin'. I'm sure that if you are worth your weight in bacon greese, you already know this. The cry babies that "wonder where all the trainees have gone"?...go pi*s up a rope and hire a bunch of six-month-at-a-time-illegals that will work like burrows for you untill it's time to "go back home" and deposit all that money they made from you in their homeland bank. My point is this, you don't have to setle for good help. First, we work in a community of culinary workers. Ask around for good help. Second, when they come to you, Have some strong interview questions for them. Don't know how to make a basic stock of fish, veal or chicken? Don't let the door hit you on the a*s on the way out. Don't speak English and have No working visa? Bye-bye! I don't care if you can cook ME under the table. Not legal? Not job worthy! While I'm on this train...what happened to the "working interview" in this industry? I still do this, does anyone else?
post #22 of 28
you know there are many sides to this coin. I worked with an apprentice who thought i didnt know jack.

Funnily enough, after 2 vocational courses, some other stuff plus a management diploma (total 8 years of college and ten years of experience) i felt that i did. Now i work for an agency and ive been casually placed in at least 100 different outlets in just 14 months (one of which was a 4.5 star hotel in which i lived in for 10 months)

Anyway i digress. Simply, commercial cookery is a s@#tty job that is mentally and physically gruelling, and also taxes your social life - oh hey, any young people takers for this lifestyle?. This would explain the attrition rate at TAFE, i estimate approximately 50% never finish first year and it goes down from there. 1500 start and about 250 finish (if you're lucky).

But thats how it is.

p.s. the official estimate as to the lack of chefs in Australia: 18,000
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
post #23 of 28
i admire your ideas, how do you cook fish stock. can i work for you, im a cook and get paid well, also passed up opps for school but family came and will come first. i self educate myself, for the customers. i work with kids but i also teach them the basics, but inside i feel outside of my leage. so what can i do to build mt career and get the same pay as i do know?
post #24 of 28
Hey Chef M,
I caught your question about making a fish stock. I was just curious...what's your experience with making stocks and their subsequent applications? What will you be using your fish stock for? BTW...there are many good resources for stock recipes and methods for making a fine stock. I have a copy of The Sauce Bible by David Paul Larousse. It's a pretty good reference for stock making as well as a myriad of sauces and plating techniques.
post #25 of 28

Hello...is anybody out there? (ELO)

"Chef" M...You still with us?
post #26 of 28
yes, im still trying to figure out this site im new
post #27 of 28

You are completely right!

Hello,u are completely right!

Well, i dunno excatly how u do things in the USA but i have 2 friends working in hotels in the USA. Thye have told me most of time they have to unfreeze food that the hotels buy made,,,,,everything. Ill be honest,,,,,the USA is known like the country without much gastronomy culture,,,,,,,,its not what i say, its what people say around the world,,,,,. Im not saying this cuz u dont make good food,,,,its cuz u dont have typycal american food,,,,,i just know ur apple pie,brownies,,,some beans called "hopping john" or something like that,,,,,,,everything i see u do is european food. Im not saying u dont do well,,i see good restaurants by internet, tv: Thomas Keller, Alain Ducasse, Daniels, Perse. And i know u are going very far,i see nice restaurants in tv programs.
But about culture could be right,,,,,when i talk to american friends, not poor or young people necesarilly. i ask them, what they will have for dinner,,,,,and most of time answer me; tuna sandwich, pizza or frozen food,,,,,c'mom thats NOT food,, well not for latinos and europeans. Latinos usually work hard cuz they have left their countries cuz they dont have food here,,,,,,I would work harder and do whatever if i would have to leave my country cuz economical reasons.
People is leaving the kitchen,,,,,,i know in Spain people dont study culinary arts as it used to. People want quality of life,,,,,,,want to LIVE. Some spanish cooks come here for students who want to learn and work hard cuz they dont find much,,,,,,,,it sounds unbelievable but it's right. My pastry chef told me in France there is a law about 35 hours of work per week. Does somebody know about this???? I knew a guy who made an stage in Bocuse restaurant, i think he paid for that. He told me he though he would find a job in France after that,,,,,,wrong,,,,,,,nobody wanted him,,,,,chefs wanted an experienced cook even for peeling potatoes, and very very histeric, bitter cooks.
Who wants to work 14 to 16 hours if they yell u? if the cooks talk about naughty topics all day,,,,they talk in ur back,,,u work holidays and christmas,,,and besides u dont do much money. Even people who loves cooking is leaving it.

a hug, take care

post #28 of 28

maybe i saw this post late, but do you know, that we in Asia are presently suffering form that European lack of chefs. Since England especially opened the doors to Asian Chefs, hotels here are loosing annually up to 25% of their brigades . Therefore we just keep on training and training, well at times it is not really fun anymore. The only once laughing are the head hunters by just sitting down and scooping their money.

Well fun to be a chef.

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