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Young cook needs advice!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Ok, so I am a 14 year old that has been working as garde manger at a french restaurant. I work lunches with the sous chef. the problem is, im inexperienced so i get nervous when we are busy. i also go slow compared to the sous chef so i get discouraged sometimes. I just need some tips on how to stay calm under the pressure of the busy lunch. i know i have only been working in a kitchen for a month and a half, but i just want to go faster. i love to cook and i know i want to do this for my career and i plan to go to culinary school, but i just need some tips, please. before i started my summer job, i would go into the restaurant and be an intern to the executive chef and he would teach me french cuisine, so i know a lot about it, just not a lot of on hands in the restaurant stuff. thanks a lot.
post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 
i have made two threads and no one has replied at all, is it because im new?
post #3 of 19
Knowing that you are concerned enough to post a thread is evidence enough that you are on the right track. You are 14 and working a tough position. Without knowing more about the restaurant nor the chef for whom you work, I would say "stay the course." Speed will happen. So will knowing more. Keep your eyes open, take notes, practice and ask questions. The questions you ask should be to others as well as to yourself. What can I do make my motions a bit faster? How can I save a step here or there? What, exactly, is happening over there...? Etc.
I got my first cooking job at 15 and fell in love with it. Then hated. Then was confused by it. Then despised it. Then fell in lover with it all over again. I think it all comes from learning more, experiencing much and seeing everything.
All the best to you in your adventure... because it truly is.

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

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post #4 of 19
Patience, young grasshopper. Many threads. Little time.

Your age will only be a hinderance if you allow it. It is inexperience that becomes the hurrdle to overcome.

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

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post #5 of 19
sometimes it takes a little more then 12 hours to get a response, I did notice your question but decided yesterday to leave it aside in hopes that someone more credible would be able to give you better advice.

I have class in a few minutes so I will sum this up very neatly.

1.) Keep your station clean. Even if you are rushed, take 15 seconds and wipe your entire station down and/or move any trays/pots/pans/utensils you are not using to the dishwawher. It is tempting to ignore the mess and keep working, but you only dig yourself further and further in your clutter until your station becomes unworkable.

2.) Do not panic. I have had to overcome this (and to some extent I still panic), you become frantic and you make careless mistakes. It is very hard to stay calm when servers are yelling at you and the rattling of the ticket printer never ends, just stay focused on the tickets in front of you.


Hope this is a good start, if I Think of more I'll add.
post #6 of 19
So you've worked a month and a half and are Garde Manger?!?! Please tell me the name of the restaurant, I don't ever want to eat there. Garde Manger at 14 is the same as saying you're a neuro-surgeon at 20! Not going to happen. That title is generally reserved for someone with experience, or was the last time I worked in a commercial kitchen. Just my opinion though....
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Garde manger is the cold station guy, right? Yes, thats what I am. I make salads, sandwhiches, tarts, and prep before service. The last time I checked, that was Garde Manger.
post #8 of 19
Depends on how large the place is, IMO. A place with 60 seats may well have the garde manger cook be one rung up from the dishwasher and so on. As for age, I say show me your maturity, ability and enthusiasm and I won't really care how old you are. My sous was a year younger than I was (23) and I respected her as much as cooks and chefs twice her age. Other than that, only time and experience will allow you to improve. It's hard to be patient, but it's an important trait.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #9 of 19
I was not much older than Shook7 when I did "pantry". From what I understand "pantry" = "garde manger". ????? It's a good place to start.
post #10 of 19
Thats pretty much how i started was at a cold station, i did desserts, washed dishes and prepped food when i began. I worked my way onto the hot line when someone was missing and eventually thats what i did full time before i came to culinary school. As far as speed goes you will get faster in time, just rember is better to be slow and have things done right the first time than fast and sloppy.
post #11 of 19
That's a little harsh, do you not think? Many, many folks start off in the cold station; it is a great place to bare witness to the hot line and that station touches many others. Garde Manger is an almost catch-all term for pantry, cold station, app, dessert station. That said, it can be a great place to start a kitchen career. It is not necessarily the hallowed ground that it once was; it is not necessarily providing sausages, balentines and dishes glazed in aspic as it once did. Let's rally around a young culinarian rather than burn him at the stake. Whadda ya' think?

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

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post #12 of 19
Shook7, good advice from the people above. Stick with it and good luck! You never know where it can take you - the adventure begins! :)

Listen to the advice of those you respect and soak up everything you can, like a sponge. Things will become second nature, given time.

DC
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #13 of 19
Just remember you can only do what you can do. You only have two hands. Concentrate on what you can handle at any given time and don't worry about tickets piling up. Getting nervous won't help. If your chef isn't complaining that you're slow, then don't worry about it. Sometimes a person will think they're not doing very well when in fact they are. Speed comes with time and gettting comfortable with what you're doing. I'm slow now compared to what I used to be. The young guys are a lot faster, but I'm still in this racket.
post #14 of 19
why are we attacking his credibility when we could be offering useful advice?

Keep in mind that the Sous and Exec started off as a timid cook at some point in their career. They most likely faced similar challenges, but overcame them with a dedication to their craft. Watch what they do, learn how to move efficiently, not wasting a single movement. Speed will come, it is important to learn manage your actions efficiently and ensure that your plates are consistent. We have a cook where I work that is extremely fast, but his progress is greatly hindered because his dishes are inconsistent.
post #15 of 19
Like everybody said, just stick with it and try your best not to let it get to you.

I started about 2 months ago in a better kitchen than my last and was truly very nervous about starting. I'm working with people older than I am, with much more experience as well, and it scared the bejesus out of me.

The trick is to just learn everything you can and just do your job to the best of your ability. You will find that once you become comfortable with all the dishes and such you will get into a groove and begin pumping out the food quicker than you'd think.

Once again, listen to what the others have said. Keep your head clear and stick with what you can do at the very moment. Getting panicked about tickets piling up is only going to slow you down (to be honest, I still do it occasionally), so keep cool and focus on what you have in front of you at that moment. Put that food out, then move on to the next few tickets.

The main piece of advice I can offer right now is to not be afraid to do a few things: Ask questions (no matter how stupid) and ask for help. I've had plenty of people I've learned from and/or worked with just out and say: "I don't care how good someone is, if they need help... I want them to ask for it. I'd rather shuffle around the line to get them the help they need than watch them go down because they were too proud to ask for help"

p.s. We all have our starting points, feel glad that you got a good early start. I didn't get a start until I was 22. Granted I'm only 23 now, so I'm still working my way up the rings of the proverbial ladder. :p
post #16 of 19
one really important thing to remember which i dont think anyone mentioned is to group your bills, especially during a rush. work maybe let's say 5 bills at a time.. if you've got 5 ceasar salads let's say on order all on different bills why not dress all the portions needed for the 5 bills rather than doing it one at a time?? it's a **** of a lot faster than making one portion at a time.

and yes working through numerous rushes will eventually force yourself to be faster. especially if the chef is standing right beside you watching you. don't be intimidated, just keep working and eventually your nervousness will fade away. remember, if the chef doesnt say anything, you're doing a good job.

one last thing, remember to put everything back where it belongs!! every bottle of dressing you use, put it in the exact same place, as well as salt, pepper, and other garnishes. and keep back up bottles of dressing and prep on line, so you don't have to run off line to get something in the middle of service.
post #17 of 19
I think you are getting great advice. Strick with it you are young and speed comes with time. Always remember be steady and consistant not rushed and sloppy. Good luck to you
Bigsimp
post #18 of 19

how did you get a job at 14?? i'm 13 and desperately wanting a job like yours, to start off with nothing big, just to get some experience to tuck under my belt(:

post #19 of 19

well the thread is 3 years old and the kid is in Vegas. If any town is gonna break the rules, well what happens in Vegas blah blah blah.

 

also, you sir, are not a professional, so please be careful how and what you post in this section.

 

as for getting a job? find a country club or little restaurant and schmoose.Even being a weekend dishwasher can lead to learning how to prep, knife skills and recipes under your belt.

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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