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Please answer some questions for me.

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hi, my name is Shannon Yarbrough, I am a tenth grader at Stafford Senior High School in Fredericksburg Virginia and I am writing a paper on how to become a successful chef. I have hopes of becoming one some day and so I was hoping that some one from this site might be willing to answer a few questions. If anyone happens to answer a few of the questions, I will be very grateful.

1st. What is your name?
2nd. What is your job title?
3rd. How long have you been working in the culinary field?
4th. How did you get to the job that you have?
5th. How hard would you say it is to be a successful culinary worker?
6th. What is the greatest thing about your job?
7th. How would you describe the culinary field in general?
8th. What would you tell someone looking towards the culinary field of work?
9th. Any advice?
10th. Any comments you would like to make?

Thank You!
post #2 of 10
What is your name?

Eddie Lakin

2nd. What is your job title?

chef/GM

3rd. How long have you been working in the culinary field?

14 years

4th. How did you get to the job that you have?

answered an ad on careerbuilder.com, then went through a rigorous interview/tasting process.

5th. How hard would you say it is to be a successful culinary worker?

extremely hard. mind-blowingly hard.

6th. What is the greatest thing about your job?

the dance of well-coordinated line cooks working as a team on a busy night.

7th. How would you describe the culinary field in general?

it's a tough industry to work in. many places don't place enough value on their employees.

8th. What would you tell someone looking towards the culinary field of work?

work in a kitchen for a year or so before deciding if you want to spend a ton of money on culinary school.

9th. Any advice?

work as a line cook for 7+ years before you take a job as a chef or manager. you don't learn this stuff in a couple years. if you take a management position too early, your cooks will not respect you. as well they shouldn't.

10th. Any comments you would like to make?

kudos to you for finding this board and jumping in. it's a great source of real-world information.

also, my comments reflect my experiences. period. i'm not speaking as some authority or saying that my experiences are the be-all-end-all of knowledge.
eddie
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eddie
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post #3 of 10
1st. What is your name?
Edward Suter

2nd. What is your job title?
Exec Chef, Chatterbox Catering, Vancouver

3rd. How long have you been working in the culinary field?
Since I was 16, washing dishes, that was in the '81

4th. How did you get to the job that you have?
I currently own my own business, and have since '97

5th. How hard would you say it is to be a successful culinary worker?
Hard? Well, if you like to do something, then it really isn't work. But to be a cook you need lots of physical and mental stamina, and to have a passion, as well as goals.

6th. What is the greatest thing about your job?
For me, creating things

7th. How would you describe the culinary field in general?
Here in N.America there's two extremes, there's the "super Chef" and then there isn't. I feel that not much emphasis is put on the proper cooking techniques and ingredient knowledge, alot of flash and show, but the basics are sadly lacking, and you can only develop yourself to the maximum when you have mastered the basics.

8th. What would you tell someone looking towards the culinary field of work?
Work first, a summer, a few months, see if this is really what you want. Cooking is more of a lifestyle than a job, and if it doesn't fit in with your expectations, the sooner you find out, the better.

9th Any advice?
Umm, work first in a place before you want to get started in this career.

10th. Any comments you would like to make?
Yup. A cook is someone who works with food. You can have 1 year or 40 years experience, but if you work with food, you're a cook. I am proud to call myself a cook. "Culinariain" is a strange term to me, don't know why it's used, "cook" is perfectly suitable and dead-on accurate. A Chef is someone who manages, manages the operation of the kitchen, manages the staff, works with his "gas guage" and his "speedometer", that is, food cost and labour cost.
I have no respect for anyone with just a few years cooking experience and no mangement experience who call themselves "chefs", just as I have no respect for any Schools who call themselves "Chef's Schools", or call their students/graduates "Chefs".
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #4 of 10
My name is Kail Matson. My title is executive chef. I've been in the culinary field for 7 years. I got my current job on a round of golf and a lot of beers. Somehow I talked my way into an executive spot at the age of 27 and I've been busting my butt ever since. The job is insanely difficult. Not only are you working 18 hours a day, and believe me somehow you get used to that - but you have to remember it's still an art - so with every plate you are creating and sometimes that can be very draining. The greatest thing about my job is the freedom to try new things. Sometimes it works sometimes it's awful. Also, knowing your dining room is full of happy customers, that makes it worth it. The culinary field is not for the faint of heart and the thin skinned. You have to be able to hear 1000 "you suck!" before you hear 1 "this doesn't suck as much." My advice to anyone looking to get in this career is job shadow a chef for one week. And I mean every step. From the morning prep to lunch rush to fabbing out 50 pounds of fish with a hangover to dinner service to yelling at the wait staff to figuring food cost to negotiating with purveyors to paying the water bill to making the schedule - EVERYTHING. You really should know what you are getting into. And to be clear - there really is no time for a personal life. AT ALL! I don't mean to cast such a gloomy light on being a chef - I can't imagine doing anything else. I just believe the public has a very distorted view on what it is we do. Read "Kitchen Confidential," by Anthony Bourdain. Truly the most honest look at professional cooking. I hope this helps.
Chef Kail
post #5 of 10
You may also want to check out the following link:
http://www.cheftalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7335
Best of luck in your venture!

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

My Author Page

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post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all who answered! I really do appreciate all of the answers that I have gotten and the time that you all have taken to answer my questions!
post #7 of 10

re" chef stuff

1st. What is your name?
Chris Albano

2nd. What is your job title?
Chef

3rd. How long have you been working in the culinary field?
19 years

4th. How did you get to the job that you have?
long hours and determenation

5th. How hard would you say it is to be a successful culinary worker?
It comes easy to some, but working long hours in a hot kitchen is hard for others

6th. What is the greatest thing about your job?
my current job we change the menu every day, so creativity is what keeps it fresh and exciting every day


7th. How would you describe the culinary field in general?
it has come around alot in the last few years and especially after the food network has made celebrity chefs glamourous. Years back you were just a middle class worker in a white chef coat with black and white checked pants

8th. What would you tell someone looking towards the culinary field of work?
Like I said its a hard profession for some working with knifes all day, fire and hot oil and liquids can cause accidents if not careful. you have to know alot of stuff; skeletal systems of animals if butchering your own meats and fish, chemistry if baking, people skills if managing, computer skills and math for executive chefs wrining menus and balancing food costs and in the end making good food and keepin hte customers happy each and every day

9th. Any advice?
get a job in a kitchen or even ask a chef for a tour or to let you work for a day. Each position in the kitchen is different and each individual restaurant or cook has their own way of setting up and executing menus. Dont think its a easy or glamourous job just because Emeril looked like he was having fun on TV last night

10th. Any comments you would like to make?
The previous answers should sum it up, I love cooking and I am glad I found a job I like to do every day. There's nothing worse than regretting going to work every day just to make a paycheck. But that goes with out saying there is still headaches everyday trying to deal with restaurant drama and issues. Before thinking of a career in this buisness realize it's alot of work
live to eat dont just eat to live
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live to eat dont just eat to live
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post #8 of 10
1st. What is your name?
Jonathan Kenyon

2nd. What is your job title?
Working Executive Chef, Crowne Plaza hotel

3rd. How long have you been working in the culinary field?
14 years

4th. How did you get to the job that you have?
Short and simple, hard work

5th. How hard would you say it is to be a successful culinary worker?
You get out of it what you put into it. Like everything in life, you must strive to succeed.

6th. What is the greatest thing about your job?
The ability to mentor, train, learn, and grow.

7th. How would you describe the culinary field in general?
NOT Glamorous, as tv would have you believe. It can become hard to balance career and relationship, and say good bye to weekends off, and Holidays.

8th. What would you tell someone looking towards the culinary field of work?
Be patient, and know that hard work and experience can be better then a degree. Also, no matter how long you have been in the field, there IS ALWAYS someone out there doing it, and doing it better/more efficiently. You can learn something from EVERYONE, take whatever knowledge you can and retain it, use it, love it.

9th. Any advice?
Keep an open mind, stay true to YOUR palate, and more importantly, stay true to YOURSELF...don't sacrifice quality in any way.

10th. Any comments you would like to make?
It's lunch and dinner, not life and death. No matter how bad it gets, remember, Like all good meals, this too shall pass.

Like all good meals, this too shall pass
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Like all good meals, this too shall pass
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post #9 of 10
1st. What is your name?
Karan Vining

2nd. What is your job title?
Working Chef

3rd. How long have you been working in the culinary field?
I have worked in the culinary field since is was 14 years old... that was before the child labor laws. 35 years

4th. How did you get to the job that you have?
I cooked for this facility on weekends opposite my then profession...got burnt out in the healthcare areana and moved to the conference center

5th. How hard would you say it is to be a successful culinary worker?
If you are truely dedicated it is all emcompassing. there is no harder work...hot, tirering, adrenalin pumping, challenging, you have to be very good with your time management

6th. What is the greatest thing about your job?
The satisfaction from the patrons

7th. How would you describe the culinary field in general?
cut throat, we are in competition with other establishments that if they do well and take away our customers the money will not be there for our paychecks. we need to be one step ahead of everyone else

8th. What would you tell someone looking towards the culinary field of work?
there are many different roads that one can take in the culinary field.. resturant work, healthcare, schools, but whatever it is you have to be ready to be critized and empowered in the same breath

9th. Any advice?
dont do it.....especially if u want a home life. the two dont mix.... Stay away from the drugs....wrong road

10th. Any comments you would like to make?
I agree with Kail Matson, Read "Kitchen Confidential," by Anthony Bourdain. Truly the most honest look at professional cooking.
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
I will be sure to check out the book "Kitchen Confidential", and again thanks for all the advice and answers. Every bit helps!
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