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Question about Cooking

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
So.. I'm self-employeed and have been cooking for about 5 years now non-professionally doing food/wine dinners for friends and family and recently started catering some family events and worked briefy as a wine-rep.

I'd really like to learn the ropes if you will of learning what it takes to work in a professional kitchen.

I have the following basics down pretty good I think:
- Grilling
- Some sauces
- Pan-searing, deglazing etc.
- Blanching / Ice Baths to cool
- Oven Roasting
- A passion for food and Wine!

I don't have any of the following:
- No Formal Training (other than FoodTV and Real-world experience)
- No professional kitchen experience

I'd prefer not starting off doing dishes (if that's possible, heh) - just not sure what kind of job (if any) someone would hire me to do.

Would love to hear what you all think is plausab le.

Thank you!
post #2 of 14
Well ok. Do you know what Roux is and how to make it? Do you know the three stages of Roux? Do you know the 5 classic mother sauces? Do you know why you deglaze tha pan and what is it you are getting off the bottom? Do you know the different cats of veggies?
These are a few questions I have found that chefs want you to know. Also yes you may know these things but cun you do them. It will be hard walking into a kitchen having really no expierence and not start at the bottom.(meaning doing dishes) You may or may not depending on you Chef find a place (figuring you can read recipes) start you off as a Prep cook or maybe making salads. I have seen this before. All you can do is try. This business is always changing looking for new ideas and fresh faces. I would tell you that if you want to try it good luck it is a lot of fun. Also keep in mind that it is a lot of hard work. Hot, long days, and few holidays off. I would say that if you walk in there have a few basic ideas and a little skill with a knife you should be ok. Give it a shot you can always start over!!!!!!!
Bigsimp :beer:
Where you thinking about Culinary school??????
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
"Textbook" answers are:
  • Bechamel Sauce (white)
  • Veloute Sauce (blond)
  • Brown (demi-glace) or Espagnole Sauce
  • Hollandaise Sauce (butter)
  • Tomato Sauce (red)
I have made variants of those sauces inadvertently, however, would need time honing them to say that I "know how to make them"..

Roux is a mixture of wheat flour and fat. It is the basis of three of the mother sauces of classical French cooking: Sauce béchamel, Sauce velouté, and Sauce Espagnole. Butter, vegetable oils, or lard are common fats used. It is used as a base for gravy, other sauces, soufflés, soups and stews.

Light (or "white") roux provides little flavor other than a characteristic richness to a dish, and is used in French cooking and some gravies or pastries throughout the world. For example, classic Swabian (southwest German) cooking uses a darker roux for its "brown broth" (braune Brühe), which, in its simplest form, consists of nothing more than lard, flour, and water, with a bay leaf and salt for seasoning. Darker roux, sometimes referred to as "blond", "peanut-butter", or "chocolate" roux depending on the color achieved, add a distinct nutty flavor to a dish, are often made with vegetable oils, as oil has a higher burning point than butter, and are used in Cajun and Creole cuisine for gumbos and stews. The darker the roux, the less thickening power it has; a chocolate roux has about one-fourth the thickening power, by weight, of a white roux. A very dark roux, just shy of burning and turning black, has a distinctly reddish color and is sometimes referred to as "brick" roux.

I deglaze to get the fonds off the bottom of the pan to help enrich the ensuing sauce with flavor.
post #4 of 14
Your response to bigsimp's questions sound like you took them directly from a text book. As a chef, I have always done a working interview for all new hires. You come in and we see if we can work together and what your skills are like. You could request a chef to do a working interview if you think your skills are up to snuff. Remember, knife speed is essential, and consistancy of cut more so. Just because you've done small scale parties doesn't mean you can make it in the trenches; pushing 400 covers in 3 or 4 hours is not something you can be prepared for unless you've done it before.
Good luck!
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
That's why I said "here's the "TEXT BOOK" answers :)

What's the deal with knife speed and why is it important?
post #6 of 14
For example, you have a pepper, an onion and a chicken fillet.
How much time will it take you to prepare a fajitas dish?

post #7 of 14
Except it's more like you have 10# of chicken breast, 20 peppers and 15 onions. Or some greater multiple thereof. That's why speed is important. You've got to be able to do all that (in addition to other prep) in as little time as possible.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
Well sure. but really... how long does it take? Doesn't take me long at all to cut stuff up...
post #9 of 14
I know...it does not take long at all to "cut" stuff up...

But can you do it properly? If the Chef asks you to brunoise 10lbs of carrots, and when you are done, they are not all a perfect cube, then it is going to hit that fan. It is not just about "cutting" stuff up. It is about cutting stuff up properly, as requested by the chef. I don't know about you, but when I had to cut julians, fine julians, etc, it took me a LONG time to just get the cuts CLOSE to being right...if I was on a line and it took me that long, I would be moved to the dish pit asap.
post #10 of 14
CP. Where do you live, and what are you looking to make?
I have a starting prep job open, but, I doubt you live in Connecticut.
But I'm sure if you go into a Kitchen, and in an interview, be honest and straight forward with the Chef, and tell him that you are passionate about food, and would like to start as a prep cook and work your way up, he would try to work something out for you. At least I would. You just need to be willing to learn, be a good listener, and follow instruction, and of course, be willing to work the hours.

Dont be scared away by people saying u need to be able to dissassemble an onion in 7 seconds or whatever. You will be able to learn and pick up speed as you go. The chef is not going to expect you to be Chef Achatz or Chef Puck if you are honest and tell him what the deal is. Of course you cant move at a sloth's pace, but you get the idea. I hope this helps, and let me know if there is anything I can do for you.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks man...

Nope... don't live in Connecticut..bummer....
post #12 of 14
ok guys, not everyone of us makes text book dishes.....nor is looking for someone who can brunoise carrots.....

As a caterer I'm looking for someone who knows basics....such as how to wash vegetables (what the heck are cats of veggies???) follow directions,
chip in and wash the dishes, be on time, be willing to schlep.....offsite catering....LOTS of schlepping, be quick and thorough....nothing ticks me off more than buying expensive ingredients that have been babied over by a farmer I know and have someone burn or maul them......know when you don't know and say something.....be up front with your skills and the amount of time you want to work.....I'm looking for people that want to learn and improve.....*the last temp hire had loads of prime credentials, had run a kitchen for several years, had her own catering business, worked for a phenominal pastry chef.....I expected alot and was disappointed....the 19 year old that new nothing of professional kitchens was a gem, she was happy, worked hard, asked questions when she didn't know/understand....

Not every kitchen is the same......catering, offsite catering, restaurants....all are different animals.....amoungst themselves and between themselves.
cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #13 of 14
i am located in nyc; where in ct. are you located?
post #14 of 14
Southington, CT.
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