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Looking for a first time job

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

I've always loved food and cooking since i was a little kid. After long and careful consideration, I have decided to attend the CIA in the spring of '07.

Im looking for a cooking job now to a) make sure im doing the right thing and b) fufill the school requirements.

I have an interview for a position for prep cook/salad chef, but I have no idea what that job entails. Is there any other positions i should look for?

Thanks! :smiles:
post #2 of 5

Prep/salad is a good start.

It would entail knives so I'm assuming you're old enough. Some states won't let you in a kitchen/knife handling environment unless you're over 18. Others it's 16.

Prep is good for learning safe and proper knife handling skills. To prep you'd be responsible to chop, mince, cut, clean, bag, bin ... whatever it is that the restaurant need to make their specific dishes. Like vegetables or fruits. It's also great experience to learn how to wrap, label (date and mark items), safe temperature storage, organization...lots of basic kitchen skills.

Salads are good for the same thing only I'm assuming you'd be preparing them? In Mammoth we would prep several hundreds of salads for the next day's service. Yes, there were tons of racks in the walk-in. I've also done smaller venues with individual salad on demand, chef, garden, that sort of thing.

It's actually pretty easy. They tell you what they want, what it needs to look like and you do it. Making cold (or even warm) salads like potato or coleslaw is easy too. Like I said, just do what they say, as long as you can read and follow the recipe you're good.

Just make sure you wash your hands like crazy! :chef:

I would also recommend brushing up on basic math skills. It's just a necessary thing to learn measurements, cutting or doubling recipes, etc.

Most important to a potential employer: ENTHUSIASM! You can learn to use a knife, but you can't learn passion.

Most important to you? Have fun. Roll with your mistakes and learn from them, listen to what you're asked to do, relax (I can't begin to tell you what this last week at my little disfunctional cafe kitchen has been like...)

As an example: Every time you drop a shroom or mess something up remember this:
...the resort I left not long ago had a young line/prep cook that would <I swear this is true!> burn over $100 in baked brie en croute EVERY WEEK! He'd just...forget...It was the 'food's done when the smoke alarm goes off' mentality I guess.

He was there when I hired on and there when I left...

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks April for the great advice! Im 22 so the knife handling isnt an issue for me. Im very excited to be in a kitchen, so the one thing I have plenty of is enthusiasm. Its just been very difficult finding a job so far with no experience.

I would love to do prep, it sounds like a good place to learn and start w/o hitting the dish pit. And i would gladly do dishes if it wasnt for the fact that i need to have hands on food experience for the CIA.

The guy who burned the brie every week is just too funny :lol:
post #4 of 5
I would just want to add one thing if you are green. The enviornment is hectic. You might encounter groups. STAY AWAY FROM THE POLITICS AND DON'T PUT YOUR BUSINESS IN THE STREET.
You might hear so and so is yadda, yadda, yadda. Don't get involved until your comfortable. It some times comes back to bite.
post #5 of 5
Hi crazytocook,

I agree with above comments and just want to reinforce that your supervisor will show you how and what to do and you should focus on trying to replicate what they show you. Pay close attention to size of cut especially, attention to detail is critical in most kitchens.

A Chef I worked for in my early days had applicants make him a grilled cheese sandwich. A very simple thing but, was the butter in an even, thin coat on both sides or were there “empty“ spots on the bread or soaked spots, was it the same level of golden brown on both sides. A lot of things in Commercial Food Service are easy to do, but not necessarily easy to do well.

Working in the salad/prep section is very repetitive work and time consuming. Whether the restaurant has a salad bar or only does plated salads, take comfort in knowing that for the most part, every day you will have to repeat what you did the day before. For example, you may need to slice 5# of mushrooms for salads, and 8# mushrooms for the sauté guy for his dishes and tomorrow the same. So you slice up #13 of mushrooms! The same for diced or sliced onions, carrots, celery, etc.

In a restaurant, the goal is to be ready to open, to be ready, you need to have ingredients prepped and that is where you come in. You have to be ready to serve anything that is on the menu and preparation is the key.

As far as other positions, I think those will come to you as you demonstrate ability to your employer. Salad department and prep work is a very good place to start, in my opinion. Because of the repetitive nature of doing salad and prep, you can keep your eyes and ears open to the other positions people are working and if you feel you can do that job speak up. Depending on the restaurant, there is a little thing called turnover of staff, which could easily provide you with the opportunity to step up and fill that position if you have observed what that person was responsible for doing.

Hope this helped.
Have fun!

Don't take my word for it! I wouldn't trust me either!
Have fun!

Don't take my word for it! I wouldn't trust me either!
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