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Where do you start?

post #1 of 2
Thread Starter 
As I've stated in my fist "intro post", I'm 25, a recent graduate w/ a BA in Lit. and now have decided to go into cooking instead of following my degree path.
Culinary school is the obvious choice but being that its already September 20th, I'm a little late on deadlines and don't expect to apply till next fall.
I have about 7 to 8 years experience in a Deli/kitchen doing minimal cooking and mostly prep work. I'm wondering if that would be considered experience as I'm applying for work in kitchens in the Philadelphia region. What positions are good to look into? I was thinking line-cooks, but am I not qualified?
I realize that a lot of the questions I'm asking are subjective questions, but I'm wondering if I'm a little in over my head. I'm in the process of writing out my resume and I figured I'd send it around to interesting restaurants, and whatever strikes me online (via monster.com/philly job search), but is there a better way to go about this?

- thanks for the help.
post #2 of 2

I was in your same position a few years ago. 25, BA in English, etc...

As far as I know, a lot of culinary schools have rolling admissions, meaning that you can apply whenever for their earliest start date. I was looking into culinary school for quite some time, and that's what I found.

I'm currently cooking the line in a casual fine dining restaurant in Boston. I started out just sort of interning for free. I worked two nights for no money. I knew very little about the workings of a professional kitchen, but I did quite a bit of cooking at home. The put me on Garde Manger right off the bat. I knwo I completely lucked out, but after about two months of working for free, they started paying me. Now I'm quitting my relatively cushy desk job (my last day is next friday), and they're moving me to the hot line. WOOT!

Everyone in my kitchen, including the guys who have been to school tell me not to go to school in the States. They tell me that it's kind of a waste of time and you can learn all of that kind of stuff on the line.

Being that my goal is to eventually open up my own restaurant, I feel like that little piece of paper might be somewhat reassuring to potential investors. So, my current plan is to stay at my restaurant for at least a year, maybe two, moving around stations. When I feel like I've plateaued my learning there, I'm planning to go to school in Paris, not only to be trained at one of the best schools on the planet LCB, but also so I can get that internship at a restaurant in Europe. I hope to cook around europe for a few years as well before coming back.

But back to where you should be applying... From what I can tell, the easiest positions to slide into are the garde manger positions (as they seem to be the highest stress and have the biggest mise en place-s) and dessert plating positions. I think from there, you can either move up or move from restaurant to restaurant. I also find that a lot of restaurant postings on craigslist. That's where everyone I know looks for their next job. Also, in Boston, we have a website called bostonchefs.com that has restaurant job listings as well.

Anyhow, I hope this helped. Let me know if you have any more questions. Cheers and good luck.

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