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OK, Chef isn't for me

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Even before I decided to go into the culinary work force, I knew I didn't want to push around pens and paper or take lead. And now I've done it, it only strengthens my belief that being head chef really isn't for me.

For the past 2 weeks, my chef was away and there was no one else at work who could take even a small fraction of his work load so it all got dumped on to me. Its not some fancy operation I'm running here, its a cafeteria for a college (ironically where I trained too) full of people who know nothing about food with a budget of a homeless person, challenging! Food isn't spectacular here but I make do with what I got and what I can get, simple things like beef stroganoff, veal parmesan, thai red curry tofu, quiche, to name a few things on my 4 week menu. We also do caterings for the college btw.

So I'm in 6:30am, start off some baking of muffins and pastries for fronthouse, get lunch items started, help with caterings if needed, put away any orders (getting better at ordering, not quite there yet), cover breaks, start service, count inventory if its thursday, and lots of other things that'll make this thread a little too long to read. I found myself enjoying the baking and the cooking but when it came to the number crunching for inventory, calling in my orders and praying they're right, dealing with all the problems inside and outside the kitchen, all the moaning and bitching and complaining from customers and staff, I couldn't take it if I had to go on any longer then 2 weeks. Mind you I was doing 2 people's jobs, 3 on days when we had people away, but even if the offer came up, I would never take it. I would go nuts and kill myself, I don't know how anyone could do it. I have tonnes of patients but those 2 weeks really spread my thin physically and mentally.

I know some of you guys probrably have gone longer, but how the **** does anyone do it?
post #2 of 13
Headless,

It has been said so often that I apologize for saying it again but.... Ya Gotta Love It. There are so many things that will get you there but passion will keep you there! It's not a disgrace to realize it's not for you. An F&B position can be just as rewarding just not as....:D
post #3 of 13
That is a "funny" post and I mean that in a good way...
The first remark that jumps at me... if you were the "Chef" there would not be any bitching and all that good tuff that comes along with... A Chef demands and gets respect... (most of the time, depends on his own ability of establishing the boundaries). He/She is also trained for that path... I always have compare it to a video game (which I don't play by the way), it is an intense mind gear continouisly turning non stop!... and becomes eventually second nature, even with the ordering... I remember when this past year dropping to 4 days a week, coming in finally on thursdays and in about 10 minutes I knew everything that had happened the last 3 days when I was never there... they called me the "Detective Chef...", it was not that... it just crawled under my skin after all the years and when finally the kitchen is a well oiled Swiss Clock it is so so smooth...
So, maybe you have it in you to be the "Chef"... one just does not get there overnight... it is mental, physical, encompassing all the aspects of a fullfilled position... Don't pass up the opportunity if it is there some day... you will get to enjoy it... might even built up and 'ego' as most of us have!!!:lol:
Be well... Ara
www.theoasisofmysoul.com

My ongoing Blog... with Spirit!

What one does after 40 years of cooking!!!
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www.theoasisofmysoul.com

My ongoing Blog... with Spirit!

What one does after 40 years of cooking!!!
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post #4 of 13
Ara that was well said. BTW you said you were min Atl. Where? Email or PM me from the site if you wish.
Later
post #5 of 13
I also think that about 90% of what you mentioned has to do with a GREAT deal of organization; no wasted steps, every move with intent and purpose... or it is wasted time.

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 13
It's funny that you mention you trained there. If so, there were obviously OTHER chefs there, yes? What happened to them?

By the way, Headless, I know a good many people in this industry who are quite happy to be line cooks their entire career. Many remain at the same place for years, get a nice paycheck, and other benefits. There's no shame in that whatsoever.

Way off the subject: Go LEAFS in '07 (a former part-time Trenton, ONT resident).

Ciao,
Order In/Food Out ~ It's NOT magic.
- * - * - * - * -
"It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you." Frank Zappa
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Order In/Food Out ~ It's NOT magic.
- * - * - * - * -
"It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you." Frank Zappa
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post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
The college the caf is located is in the same campus where I went to school for chef training and baking + pastry arts.

Granted I've only done this for 2 weeks and 1 week last semester and I've mentioned, I've never aimed for the top. But I do come from your typical Chinese family where they'll never settle for anything then the top. I'm expected to eventually take a chef position and open up my own establishment. I havn't been in the business for long, just 1 year of actual working experience. I am happy with just doing the cooking, I just don't want all the paper work attached the chef's job.

On the other hand though, my bosses were quite impressed with how I handled myself. I did get everything done even though I could barely stand nearing the end of it all. And I can definatly not see myself doing 60hrs/week.
post #8 of 13
Well, the facts are getting clearer in the sense that plainly it is something that you do NOT want to do... I sense the resistance already established toward that position and why then fight it? If your family expect you to be a Chef... have your own... (and that is even worse... or better... depending if you want to sleep there or not!...:D ) you will not be successful... you have to want... you have to have the Passion...
Such short term training scares me for you... I spend 3 years in Switzerland just doing that... and it was Old School, as I graduated... 37 years ago!... Old old School!!!... I hated it... but I loved the Kitchen... and deep sown always knew... someday... someday... Talking about organization... I thrived on it... my lines have always been set up for minimum effort!... not an extra movement was needed, it was as I call it... a "Dance"... and foremost... primordial... we had a GREAT TIME... laughing... cutting each other up... "HAPPY"... it takes a lot of training to arrive on such a path... I don't know what else to say...
I am in Dawsonville, OldSchool 1982... I have stopped working now... for now... at 58... after 40 years... has been 2 weeks... and I am so emotional that I cannot even go back to visit the last Kitchen I was in!
Of course it was Contract work... during the spam of 9 months the moron managed to loose his Liquor License twice... one for procrastinating the paperwork and the second time... intentionally selling to minors! It is now on a skeleton crew... trying to be sold... you have no idea of the pain it has caused to work so hard... getting 3 great reviews... averaging 200 plates a night for a 65 seater... with NEVER #86'ing a single item since January 2nd with a food waiste of under... 2%!!!
Call me... 1:239:450.4110. We can do some "coffee"... I roast my own... but that... is another thread!!!
Be well... Ara
www.theoasisofmysoul.com

My ongoing Blog... with Spirit!

What one does after 40 years of cooking!!!
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www.theoasisofmysoul.com

My ongoing Blog... with Spirit!

What one does after 40 years of cooking!!!
Reply
post #9 of 13
I had thought of and posted a different approach to my original post but after rethinking things and reading what Ara posted I'm gonna stick with the original. Although I do still believe your attitude is refreshing and you seem to bve well centered on what ytou don't wish to do. Like the old saying you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

Dawsonville huh? A lot has moved up that way since I left the area in 97. Shame to hear about things. New someone that opened up a place that ways so it didn't happen to be owned by a guy named Michael Couffer by chance? Not to be considered "name dropping" but when I was there I ran with and worked with the IRC group (Innovative Restaurant Concepts) and many of the former folks that operated in the company among a couple other groups. They sure had the right formula. Sadly it's original core is gone but I did hear Ray Shoenbaum has resurrected things over the last few years.
Not to forget the original post so good luck with things Headless. It'll come to you.
post #10 of 13
Yeah but you'll get better at it. :) Soon you'll find ways to do things more efficiently, eg., train someone to check in the produce, have everyone trained to punch in properly... :D stuff like that.
post #11 of 13
That's very true, but over the course of time in this industry and others I have some to find that there are just certain people for whom no amount of work is too much to handle. Then there are the rest of us normal people who just aren't wired that way. I think you'll do fine. You'll do what you like to the best you are up to and that will more than likely be good enough, and you'll get better at it.
My latest musical venture!
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http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
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My latest musical venture!
http://myspace.com/nikandtheniceguys
 
Also
http://www.myspace.com/popshowband "I'm at the age when food has taken the place of sex in my life. In fact I've just had a mirror put over my kitchen table." Rodney Dangerfield RIP
Reply
post #12 of 13
Ni hou (again) Chicken,

If it scares you now it's primarily because you're not ready for it. Trust me. Even accepting my first gig as a chef was a daunting task. Since then I've literally been up and down the line depending on where I was working and what position I had applied for.

I've been a chef at two places, sous chef at numerous, and will be opening my on place with a FOH partner in the foreseeable future. That being said, it's all been a matter of 'training.' Sometimes you don't even know you're being trained to perform a task. You see something, help someone out, et voilà, now you're doing it.

NOBODY in this business was born knowing everything there is to know about it. Heck, that goes for EVERY business. We all learn. With one year out of school, unless you've been working the line for an earlier 5-10, you are understandably not equipped to take the reigns and run with them.

However, as I said before, there are plenty of places for you in this world. When I open my house, you can guarantee I'll be looking for people just like you; they love the job and want the work, but don't want to be the responsibility that goes with it. Again, my partner is going to be the 'face' of the restaurant. I don't like regular people all that much. I need a buffer; that's her.

Tsai jian,
Ciao,
Order In/Food Out ~ It's NOT magic.
- * - * - * - * -
"It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you." Frank Zappa
Reply
Order In/Food Out ~ It's NOT magic.
- * - * - * - * -
"It's not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity, and make it work for you." Frank Zappa
Reply
post #13 of 13

quick story...

I started in my first restaurant washing dishes at 13(I was getting paid "under the table", so I lied and said I was 14 so I could work there)(which then meant I started bartending at 17...but that's another story). Went to college for computer science after high school and worked as a server to pay my way through school. After graduating, went to graphic design school because I'm more a "hands on" kinda person with any job I have. Spent 5 years working on computers in a printing company, thinking to myself, "how does anyone do this day after boring day, sitting at computers, shuffling paperwork. During this five years, I worked nights in a restaurant cooking, serving, bartending...for extra cash. I'd go home exhausted every night and still be trying to create new dinners for myself to eat. Any one day weekend I had...I'd visit family and friends and cook for them. After 5 years, I made up my mind. Cut the contract on my apartment, quit my job (which, mind you, I was making 3 times the salary I made after culinary school)....went to culinary school...and cooked every since. Point of story...as every Chef will tell you.."It's in the love of what you do" Some people, like myself, take a long time to find the love, but everyone has a niche in life. If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Does it matter if the glass is half full or half empty?
Somebody's gonna end up knocking it over anyway.

Assumption=The mother of all f**kups
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Does it matter if the glass is half full or half empty?
Somebody's gonna end up knocking it over anyway.

Assumption=The mother of all f**kups
Reply
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