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Starting my first cooking job

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hello everybody. Well, I start my first cooking job tomorrow and I'm really excited. I'm going to be a line cook at this Wine bar downtown in Vermont. It sounds like it's gonna be really good but my only concern is that in the kitchen they don't have a hood over the oven, so they can't sauté or do any heavy grilling. So all the cooking is done in the oven, light stove top and cold platters. I'm saying to myself, no way am I going to do this. Frozen pizza and burgers, no way. Just as I was about to turn the job down, the Chef/Owner took me in back and showed me the kitchen and went over the menu with me. There were lots of salads made up of farm fresh ingredients. Cheese platters, fresh flat breads, panini's and some pasta dishes. My fears were taken away, nothing frozen. Everything is prepared fresh. But it's not the fine dinning experience I was looking for. The Chef/Owner said, if it's not for me, then down the road I can look for something else. At least I can get the feel of things and learn about sanitation and get some knife work in. I tend to agree with him and plus I need the job, but I'd like to hear what some of you think. Any comments or feedback would be greatly appreciated. Thank you everyone.
post #2 of 18
Nicky- got 5 words for you- "a foot in the door"! Try it out- gain experience. If it not to your likeing, move on. On the job, learn all you can, pay attention, work hard, gain a good job reference. Congrats!
Bon Vive' !
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Bon Vive' !
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post #3 of 18

Your Chef/Owner sounds terrific.

I am a bit surprised that you didn't know the menu before you hired on, but it sounds very refreshing in a deep fried twinky world.

I totally agree with the logic about getting comfortable with your skills and procedures in a kitchen. SO many establishments completely lose the concept of sanitation, temps, rotation, as well as fresh compared to canned mass produced same old same old. So many little issues that can make a great restaurant out of an "Applebee's" or "Olive Garden".

I don't know how you react, but a lot of people freeze up under the performance angst when faced with a high profile/high volume environment.

Personally your opportunity sounds great.

...and yeah, you can always find another place down the track.

Have fun! :bounce:
April
post #4 of 18

A coupld of ideas

Best of luck to you (btw are you a Neci grad? Would love to know what it looks like without the commons now?)

Are you working under a chef? If yes just relax and go with the flow, if the chef is good and creative one then you should learn a lot even with limitations. To this day garde manger remains my favorite station. There is such a chance to play with the subtle changes of the seasons, or to highlight a special cheese, oh yeah and bring on the charcutirie.

Are you making the menus? Then a couple of words braise, poach, slow slow slow roast.

I recentely opened a cafe/bistro/bakery and for now we are only allowed a "steam hood". Of course we sautee/sweat after hours when we are do prep but mostly we put together killer soups and salads, grain salads, and braises we have a huge 4 deck bread oven. At first I was frustrated but honestyl I think sautee and grilling are an easy out when it comes to putting together meals. There are alot of other techniques to explore and some that might teach you more about cooking than tradtional line work.

And the above is right if it doesn't work out, hey it's Vermont, I don't think I have ever seen a state with more restaurants in it.;)
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
Going in there, I didn't know the menu. But after I sat down with the Owner and when he showed me around, I knew that this was going to be nice. I had a night to sleep on it, and I have a really good feeling about this. Although I haven't gone to Culinary School yet, the Chef/Owner is a graduate of NECI. And he also has a catering business on the side, which he said I might be able to get some hours there as well, when the busy season comes around. But the more I think about it, the better this deal sounds. What impressed me was the Chef/Owner said he was going to teach me about sanitation, (like I mentioned earlier), kitchen operations, organization and he mentioned presentation at least four times. So I knew right then and there that we weren't going to be just slapping some food on a plate. And what's really exciting is the dinner menu is only three months old. It's still a work in progress. And he's looking for me to take the lead in the kitchen, especially when he's gone with catering. So, in short, I am really excited and am so lucky to have an opportunity like this. I'll keep you all posted on how it goes tonight. Thank you all for your input and support.

Regards,
Nick
post #6 of 18

good for you,go for it!

learn as much as you can, when I wrote the desrcibtion of what you are going to do, all fresh salads, etc., it sounded good to me.
try to ( if you can) make beef boullion from fresh meat and bone, make sauce ('demi glace') yourself, i know it is a pain.
just don't let yourself go, be proud of your profession you are a CHEF an after a few month you will look back at the first days and laugh about it.
don't be afraid of asking, if something goes wrong, don't try to hide it, it does not work. and if you need help, ask early enough, if the owner does have some brains and cares about his place he will help you.
you did not write who will be your immideate 'superior' a Chef? or are yo uthe only one in the kitchen with other Chefs and kitchen helpers...
should yo uneed some help and i can offer that over the internet please feel free to write and ask!

even the big paul bocuse cooks with water only and also HE was (fair enough long time ago) an apprentice...
all the best for the future and good luck!
benedikt, a Chef since 40 years and still enyojing it:chef:
good food, one of the few pleasures left to mankind...
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good food, one of the few pleasures left to mankind...
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post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well, my first night went really well. The Owner was with me in the kitchen all night and he first went over prep, what we need to do every day. The Do's and don't s of sanitation and rotation. Then he went over some of the dishes with me and had me make some of them during my shift. Even thought they aren't the most technical dishes, I'm still getting good organization skills in the kitchen. And plate presentation is very important to him as well. It was a good night, I really had fun. What really impressed me was the Owner, who is also a graduate of NECI know's about my plans to go, and has started coaching me. We started off with some French Culinary terms that I'll need to know, and knife skills, which I need to know there as well, but he seems like he's gonna be pretty good about me going to school. But all in all, it was great. Can't wait to see what tonight brings. Take care all.
post #8 of 18
Sounds good. It's good that you have a place that is willing to help you develop and bring you up...and on the line right away is pretty cool.
post #9 of 18

new job

Anytime you start a new job, it's a time for you to find out if you like the work environment and for them to see if they like you and your work.

The first 2 to 3 months should give you a pretty good idea. It's hard to see a menu and decide your future. So try it out and see if it is for you.

I spend many years figure it out myself. Now I work for ME:bounce:

Good Luck.
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"
Reply
post #10 of 18
Hey there,

The best thing you can do is learn the basics and when you've got the sorted then progress on each method to find the best way to do things :)
post #11 of 18
Hey Nicky, keep us updated. How has it gone since your first day?
post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone, well it's been going really well at work. I'm really having a lot of fun. The only issue that concerns me is this. The owner is a graduate of NECI. But now with me starting at NECI in June, he feels I am not going to be able to handle the full days and still work a full time schedule. My Wife and I sat down to crunch the numbers and all I need to do is work enough to get some spending money. Once I get my schedule I'll be able to see what my class times are three months out and we can work something out with how many shifts I can cover at work. He's being totally good about it, he understands my reasons for going to school. So while I'm here, I'm going to just have fun, learn as much as I can and hopefully get a good reference out of it. And who knows, maybe we'll be able to work together again in the future.
post #13 of 18
nickydafish
Congrats!!! Sounds like you found a great opportunity. I'm jealous.

I was wondering what culinary skills you had before taking this job? I only ask because I have not attended a school, nor have I yet to step foot in a professional kitchen. I can only hope that I find an opportunity similar to yours!
"To be a good chef all you got to do is lots of little things well" -Marco Pierre

"As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit." -Fernand Point
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"To be a good chef all you got to do is lots of little things well" -Marco Pierre

"As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit." -Fernand Point
Reply
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 
You know I was really lucky. My only experience was working a short time for a caterer as kitchen help. I am just an at home cook who really loves cooking and wants to take it to the next level. Like I mentioned above, it's not a fine dining envirnment. But we don't just slap food on a plate and throw it out there. And because of that, I think the owner hired me because he wasn't looking for a "real" line cook, or chef. Nothing is picked up from the supermarket, or frozen. All our pizza, flatbreads, sandwiches, dips, ect., are made from scratch. Nothing complicated but where my education is, is in the form of sanitation, food rotation, cost, portion control and prioritizing my orders. I don't consider myself a line cook because I'm really not. I'm not working 12 hours a day, I can only bake and grill at work, so to me, I can't call myself a line cook. Sorry rjx, I took your question and ran with it, I guess I just had that on my mind.

Take Care Everyone,
Nick
post #15 of 18

Nicky

Oh but you are a cook- you are learning more each day- you are learning new skills and providing food for your guests. Welcome to it!!!:rolleyes:
Bon Vive' !
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Bon Vive' !
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post #16 of 18
Spring in VT. what products are you able to source? We've just started getting in 2007 chevre, sunflower sprouts, spinach, beets, some carrots are making it in to STL......
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #17 of 18
OK Nicky...one full month has passed. Are you still with your restaurant? How are you enjoying it? Sorry for being an update-pest.:bounce:
post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 
Sorry for not posting for some time, things have been really busy at home. Things at work have been pretty good. At the end of the day, it's not the place I want to be, but I am learning a lot, and plus being new to the industry, I can use the references. I've been doing a lot of prep and cooking for our catering events, which is great. My boss and owner of the place is busy with the catering, wine bar and my little kitchen. The food is selling well, but it just seems like the kitchen is taking a back seat to the other two. He wants the kitchen to do well, and I'm still getting a decent dinner crowd, and then continue to sell well into the night. Even though, nothing is packaged and we cook with fresh ingrediants it's still not the cooking I want to do. Today I'm interviewing for a line cook job in town. I was refered there from one of the waitstaff. I'm going to try and get some hours on my days off from my full time job, and maybe some morning hours. I just want to learn as much as I can and pick up some new skills. So in that aspect, I'm very excited. So in all, things are going well. I'm taking baby steps....:D I'm moving back to NYC in August so having some experience under my belt and a couple references will be nice.
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