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introduction and a question

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey all, its my first post here so I will take a second to say "hi."



"hi"


Now that that's out of the way, I have a situation I need some advice with. I am a 23 year old law student who intends to go into culinary school after I graduate and I have been looking around my area for interning opportunities. I eventually was put in contact with the owner of a local French bistro (higher end, but not absurdly expensive) through the parents of a friend, who are also apparently silent partners in the venture. When I asked about the possibility of working for free he seems very intrigued and asked me to call him.

I tried to get in contact over the next few days, and when I finally got him on the phone he said that his chef "wanted me in" but he was busy so he couldn't discuss it more fully at the moment, and that he would call me the next day. That was friday. Its monday now, and no word from him. I left messages saturday and sunday.

So, what do you think I should do? Lots of mixed messages.
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post #2 of 12
Ok, first of all, remember that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the busiest days of the week for those who work in the restaurant biz. Usually, it's a lot more than a crew can do to get ready for the rush on those days and speaking with a wannabe is rather low on the priority list. Also, Monday is generally chef's day off and he (or she) has dropped, put his feet up and decided to rest his bones (and head) for a day, except for placing an order and mitigating any staffing problems that may have popped up over the weekend. It's not personal--he just hasn't gotten around to you yet. Be persistent, and you'll get your face time with him before long.

Secondly, be careful of offering to work for free, unless you can get some kind of staging contract that will indicate how far a restaurant's liability for you will extend. I've seen many a starry eyed newbie cut or burn himself badly enough to require medical attention leading to disputes between the restaurant owner and the free worker as to who will pick up the emergency room bills. DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THIS ISSUE! Everyone, regardless of experience gets cut and/or burned at some point.

My advice is, don't quit law school unless you really can't hack it. Try to get a part time prep position washing lettuce, putting away orders, busting suds and chopping veggies so you can decide whether food service is an environment that you'll want to work in. Don't forget that the earning potential is significantly less for even the most talented culinarian than one with a law degree.

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Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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www.foodandphoto.com

Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

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post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
I realize I should have clarified a bit, I am not quitting law school. I graduate in a year, and even though I detest it I am going to finish it (too much time and money spent before I discovered my true passion). I think it could help me in the future anyhow.

As far as liability goes, I have health insurance now, so it shouldnt be tragic if cutting or burning happens. Through my cooking at home I have cut and burned myself enough to be fairly cautious with knives and fire to hack it.

So you think I should keep on keeping on with the calls? Probably good advice, the guy didnt seem the type to promise a position and then never call back again. Im sure he is VERY busy, but I would love to start asap. Just anxious to get in the kitchen I guess.
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post #4 of 12
Do you have the restaurant's address? Perhaps go in and meet the head chef on a tues or thurs afternoon (typically the least busy)- and see what happens from there...
Bon Vive' !
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Bon Vive' !
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post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Yeah I know the place. I am thinking I will call again tomorrow and perhaps just show up. Only problem is that they only do dinner, and by the time they are open the push will have started. Not a good time to talk to the chef.
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post #6 of 12

Did you get the job/internship?

Hey mtcantor,
I just ready your post and was just wondering if you happened to get the position at the Bistro that you were trying to? I actually work at a small French Bistro in Sharon, MA by Boston...so that is why I was wondering how it was going. Either way Best of luck to ya in your culinary journey.

Makanai
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Ugh, so far nothing. After two days of failing to contact me (like the owner said he would to set up a schedule) the sous chef went on vacation, and wont be back for another week, so this place is on temporary hold.

I put in a call to a few other local places, so thats good (possibly).

I actually have an offer too, for a paying job no less. I am friends with the general manager, but its a Pasta House (think Olive Garden), and I am unsure if experience there will be beneficial in a career sense. Any thoughts?

I mean, I have literally no BOH experience, and need some badly. Think its worth it to take the position?

(btw, I used to live in Boston. Miss it sometimes.)
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post #8 of 12

Don"t

there is enough places in needs of cooks, you should not do it for free.

You should never work for free by principal. If you get hurt, you need to be a normal employee to get insurance to cover you. When you say for free to an employer, they either think great I will save money and make you work like everyone else or they think you must be pretty bad to offer to work for free...

NEVER WORK FOR FREE>>> EVER!!
Martin Laprise
Author of "My daughter wants to Be a Chef!"
www.thechefinstead.ca

“A cook who invest a few bucks every week is a smart cook"
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Martin Laprise
Author of "My daughter wants to Be a Chef!"
www.thechefinstead.ca

“A cook who invest a few bucks every week is a smart cook"
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post #9 of 12
Well if you have no BoH exp, it's going to be a struggle, I had about 2 years under my belt before I apprenticed under a french chef, and if the french chef you speak of is ANYTHING like mine, be prepared to have thick skin. I can't recall how many times I had been REAMED for the fact I messed up something. Weather big or small, it'll feel perhaps like you are walking on egg shells, but if you can hang for 3 months or so, I've notice things get easier, once they see your "passion" and willingness to learn. SO I guess in short, it's worth it, only if you can deal with it.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Well just to update everyone, I met with the Sous Chef finally and they are definately having me in. I have his cell number and I am to call him after I get back from Boston for my spring break, after which time my fridays and weekends will be at the restaurant.

Very excited.
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post #11 of 12
That's great!!! :D Thanks for letting us know.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #12 of 12
mcantor-
Congrats!! I'm doing the same thing- worked last weekend and now this weekend for a friend with a small Italian place. I'm pretty much an assistant- I keep telling him- "Whatever you need me to do, boss!", I have prepped, garnished, served, and done LOTS of dishes!!! But I love just being there and whenever I'm not busy, I go watch what he's doing. I'm not familiar with alot of Italian food, so it is a learning experience.
Enjoy yours and be receptive. All else fails and things are slow- clean something!! there is ALWAYS something that needs cleaning up!
Bon Vive' !
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Bon Vive' !
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