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First day at work

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
alright, i will be working as a grunt prep work volunteer at a restaurant that focuses on a tasters menu. Please disregard anything that doesnt make much sense

but, im not sure what knives i should be bringing, or better yet, how much abuse my knives will take.

I know this is pretty silly writing this message before i have even spoke to the chef in more detail about what i will be doing, but you cannot imagine how excitied, especially how anxious i am to get into the kitchen doing anything i can get my hands and knives on

I will have a tool set from culinary school, but i would like to buy some more comfortable knives. This is what im afraid of, bringing in expensive knives to have them absolutely destroyed doing grunt, prep work, and to look like a tool bringing in an arsenal of pretentious looking utensiles.

this may seem absolutely ridiculous but its hard not to think about anything and everything before i have set foot in there. im just excited

thanks for any and all comments and criticism
post #2 of 10
It's kind of silly to think of not using nice knives for their intended purpose. Why buy them then?

Chances are your knives won't be much worse than what everyone else. Most of the kitchen will most likely use forschners.

You will be noticed as a newbie/student not only by your fully equipped and clean knife kit, but your skills that you lack as well. Don't worry about it. You're there to get some experience and that's it. Keep that in mind and work hard.

Ask a lot of questions. Learn as much as you can. Looking like a newbie has no meaning compared to the knowledge you can absorb. I know it's cliche to say, but be a sponge...and don't be some cheap 99 cent sponge...be the sponge that's advertised on informercials that can absorb 8 gallons of water or something.

In everything you do...remember to think, don't just do something. Think about what you're doing and what will happen before and after you do something.

As far as what to bring...I'd bring an apron as not all establishments provide those. As to what knives if that's what you're asking...at least a chef's knife, a steel, maybe a boning knife and a paring knife. If it's more of an upscale place maybe a tourne knife. I doubt you'll be making any sauces but if you think you will...bring a whisk and a wooden spoon.
post #3 of 10
Your knives are tools. Use them.
Otherwise, just throw them away.

Like many newly christend, you place far too much importance on knives and other flash gear.

Worry about your quality and productivity, not giving your tools a thrashing. Or who will think what.
post #4 of 10
Your knives will only get damaged depending on how you treat them and use them. And often a cook is only as good as their knives are, in addition to attitude, work-ethic, etc. Simply put, if your knives are sh*t, chances are the product will be as well. And always keep them sharp, there's nothing more annoying than a dull knife. Also, always use the proper knife for the proper task, e.g. don't chop herbs with a serrated blade!

Sorry for the lecture, I've just worked with a lot of morons who don't know what they're doing....

p.s. I would "label" your knives somehow so that everyone knows they're yours. I used to use colored tape or rubberbands on the handles (though be careful none ever falls into the food!). Or better yet engrave your name on the blades. Knives have a way of getting lost, stolen, or "borrowed" by others who may damage them.
post #5 of 10
Engravers => cheap. Knives => expensive.

Easy math.
post #6 of 10
my knives? fairly nice knives... i took the whole set, put them with the other knives and left them there...
i usually get 2 knives out and a bowl of sanitizer so i can use them all over...

my 9" cooks knife and my favourite... my japanese santoku with the 70 times folded steel blade fully hilted and almost perfectly weighted...

ill use them all over, on meat and heavy "contaminaters" i use the cooks knife which i leave in the sanitizer, and veg/salad i use the santoku...

i use the KM's bread knife cause i said it was sweet and he said i can use his bread knife if he can use my santoku so...

i sharpen it daily, several times a day i use a steel on it. and i check it at the end of the night and repair the tiny little (less than 1mm) serrations on it if need be... (man THATS a toughy)

if only my hands could take the heat of a freshly chargrilled chickenbreast i could hold it better while i cut.

oh i use a 13" carving knife every sunday... the exec's

we trust each other, ill repair any damage to the blades and i keep them sharp, professionaly so
post #7 of 10
Good knives are for grunt work. When I read "tasting menu" I think small which means a lot of brunoise, dicing, and little slivers of things. Not to mention precise cuts and bity garnishes. And if it is truly "grunt" work there will be a lot of it. For any and all of this your best friend will will be a comfortable, best-quality-you-can-afford, knife.

When I go into situations that I don't know what I will be doing or with limited space I limit my roll to: My 12" Chefs knife, a couple of cheap paring knifes, a "utility" knife, a serrated knife, a slicer. I can ususally cover most tasks with anyone of those from carving a roast to cleaning a salmon, slicing an Opera cake, to opening oysters, and for chopping 50# of mire poix. But I also throw in a few other things that I consider necessities. A timer, a digital therm, 1 heatproof spatula, a bench scraper, and my oxo peeler. Sure most kitchens have them but should they not I do.

Prep does not destroy your knives, good knives were forged for and live for the dream of more prep than your arms and wrists will ever want. You destroy your knives by poor handling, wrong knife for wrong task, not honing, sharpening wrong, opening boxes and plastic ties with them, cutting on concrete, etc....

Having good quality knives won't make you look like a "tool" (pardon the pun). These are the things that make people look stupid in the kitchen.
  • Pretending to know what you are doing when you don't. Any decent chef/sous/lead co-worker would rather you spoke up than hurt yourself or worse yet, the product.
  • Having every obscure knife possible (hey folks I even brought by orange supreming and tournet knives)
  • Having a full roll of knives without knowing how to sharpen a single one of them.
  • Using your knives in any showy or dramatic fashion.
  • Trying to impress people with unusual skills that you don't have (yeah it's REALLY cool that your housemate can make bunny rabbits out of garlic cloves using nothing but a 2ft. cleaver but that doesn't mean you can should try. Except by yourself at home)
  • Also using anybody elses knives without asking and/or sharpening someones elses knives.
The only reason I would reccomend you hesitate to run out an buy new knives is only, if you don't have much experience you may not know what you want or which knife is comfortable to you. Everybody is different. The trendiest knife might be too heavy/lite after 10 hours everyday in your hand.
I agree with Entropy label label label. My knives are engraved(on the metal part) and I always put a bright piece of tape on the outside so that I can identify quickly which is mine.

Other than that, attitude is what will set you apart, or not. I reccomend old fashioned professionalism, confidence, and a nerdlike enthusiasm for the best food possible. Have Fun!
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
post #8 of 10
good luck!!! and enjoy of coarse. by the sounds you will be a student in learning. all that I want to add is that most cullinary schools send their students with the basic knife tools which by the sounds of it you should have. all you need to do is look after them(hide em all the time), keep them sharp(ask someone to teach you that if unsure) and keep the blades away from your limbs. I recently had to deal with a student who was not concentrating, and cut the tip off from his middle finger to the bone.....
Most important, good attitude, work hard(listen and learn) and have fun!!
post #9 of 10
It seems to me most culinary students aren't given the best knife sets. Unless they are wusthof, heinkles, globals, or kershaw. Break them suckers in, learn how to use them. Then later on you'll probably be on-line looking at all kinds of cutlery and when you get your dream set you'll know how to use 'em and they wont get jacked up.

And I always tell newbies to take plenty of notes because chefs always like to have their questions answered even if you have to look it up. To be able to reference something you saw on the first couple of days or a couple weeks from now could save you some time and impress your bosses and peers.
post #10 of 10

If you will be there long enough...

...and even if you won't, bring a small notebook.

Look at how stations are set up, and scribble a diagram.

When you get home, make a prep list based on that diagram. Get feedback on the list, if you can.

The next day your assistance at setting up will go much faster.

Get there early to have a chance to get familiar with the walk-ins, dry storage, locations of pans, general lay of the land.

Be ok with needing to constantly tweak and update it, especially in a small plates place where menu items are constantly changing. It's ok, sometimes items come back, and next time you'll know exactly how to do it.

Take notes. Bring a pen with ink that won't smudge from moisture, and a Sharpie for labelling your product.

All this sounds like nothing to do with knives, but I think it does. Less mental pollution + more organization = better knife output.

Disclaimer: I am just a cook, not a chef. But these things helped me a lot. And I love lists.
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