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Restaurant experience?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone! This is my first post so sorry if it's really long. I am considering going to culinary school for a while now and now I have started to check out some schools. I live in Chicago, so I've looked at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago-Le Cordon Bleu, and will be looking at Kendall. I'm also going to speak to a representative from the CIA sometime in Oct. I want to go to a really good school, but the thing is the only food service experience I have is Dunkin Donuts and thats like having no experience. I'm 24 years old with a B.S. and realize if I don't do this now, I never will. I do not want to spend 40K-50K on a school just to not work in the industry after I graduate, so I need to get some sort of experience. I work full time, so I need to work part-time evenings and weekends. Do you have and suggestions to how I get experience before I go to culinary school? Would the restaurants have time for me since they are quite busy and I would need to be taught everything? Thanks for your input.
post #2 of 17
I graduated from CHIC, and am currently a student of Kendall (not culinary); I strongly recommend you save yourself 25-35k and look at Washburne Culinary Institute for a culinary degree. Their AAS is in the 14k range, and they have a modern facility with a CMC on board.

Washburne Culinary Institute Homepage - One of the best and oldest culinary schools in Chicago
post #3 of 17
Also, to answer your question, apply everywhere and see which ones bite, eventually youll find one that is willing to start you off with either basic prep or slow line work.

I started off in a chain restaurant and I think it was the greatest thing because you get your feet wet in a restaurant environment without getting complicated prep/line work. Chains have the materials and management to take someone with minimal experience and train them into decent cooks.

When you graduate from school, you will be ready for a spot on either prep or the line, do not let schools tell you that you will be a Sous Chef upon graduation with no prior experience. So the more you can learn off working in a restaurant, the better off you are.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
That sound good working for a chain. Ras, what postion did you start out as? I read around that most people who want to cook start out as a dishwasher. I don't mind starting there, but is it hard going from the front of the house to the back of the house if cooking is what I want to do? When I fill out applications I need to put what I am applying for and I don't want to pick "host" if that isn't going to help me learn about the kitchen.
post #5 of 17
Since you are from Chicago, I am sure you are familiar with local Chicago chains like Portillos and Home Run Inn.

I was a busser/dishwasher/cashier/grill cook at Portillo's for about a year and a half. I moved over to Home Run Inn to bus there for a very brief time until I got a call from TGIF (whom I had given up on since 3 months had passed), and I was working on the line on the salad/appetizer station. Chains are going to be very busy, it is a good learning experience, but brace yourself to be bombarded with orders nonstop until you think you cant take it anymore.

I was pretty much willing to do anything. Most places I visited were chains and they had the option of marking a check next to the positions you were interested in. In addition to busser, I checked anything remotely related to the kitchen.

Generally speaking, there is a line of separation from FOH to BOH, but every manager that hired me for a FOH position understood that I was desperately seeking to be BOH.
post #6 of 17
Hello. I applaud you for wanting to work in a kitchen befor you go to culinary school. So often students graduate from a good school and expect to just jump into a lead position. With no experience, degree or not you will not get the top spot. I would hire you in a minute. If I interviewed you. Willing to work weekends and nights, even part time is a great start. You would be suprised how many chefs are willing to train someone with little to noexperience compaired to someone who has been cooking for 20 years. There is a time for the experienced cook and then there is a need for the newbie, someone to peel 50 pounds of shrimp, portion 30 pounds of pasta, prep salad dressings or cut a case of onions and peppers. All of these tasks no matter how trivial to a newbie are great skill sharpening tasks. T the chef you just saved him a days worth of work. So apply at alot of places and don't forget aboput health care facilities.

Peace Love and Good Food, DAVE
David

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David

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post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks Dave for the advice. Too bad I don't live near you, otherwise you'll have some help. I guess now I have to go "pound the pavement" and see if there are any takers for free help (or paid if they want to).
post #8 of 17
at least insist on min wage, there are lots of "users" in this industry
post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
I've been thinking about applying for a serving job at a banquet hall? In your opinion, would that be a good way to work my into the kitchen? If I let them know my of my intentions of want to become a cook?
post #10 of 17
Anything is better then nothing, if the opportunity comes up during the interview definitely go for it
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
So I'm still looking for some experience. I'm finding it really hard to come by. It seems like no one wants some one part-time, well at least in my experience. Maybe I need a new approach. I've been applying to certain chain resturants that serve fresh made to order food with no luck. I really don't know what to do. Can I have some advice? Is there somthing I'm missing? Thanks!
post #12 of 17
If it's a job you really want, be persistent! Follow up applications and interviews with phone calls or visits. Take the initiative. Show that you want to work there and don't let them forget you. Just my 2 cents.
post #13 of 17
What job(s) are you applying for? It might be that the places you've hit so far don't have openings for a line cook (esp. with no exp.) but might need a prep cook or pot washer. Although pot washing isn't cooking, if you've got time before you start school you might be able to move to prep or garde manger.
"Honey, is something burning?" - my wife
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"Honey, is something burning?" - my wife
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post #14 of 17

Aguaviolet- I cant give you much help but I can tell you that your not alone. I am basically the same story as you but I am in Columbus. I am about to start offering to work for free here in ohio. My plan is to go to a couple small higher end places and see if they will hire me for no money until I am good enough to be working for a wage. Ill try to keep updates on my situation in hopes it will help out.  Thanks for sharing

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by spicednut View Post

Hello. I applaud you for wanting to work in a kitchen befor you go to culinary school. So often students graduate from a good school and expect to just jump into a lead position. With no experience, degree or not you will not get the top spot. I would hire you in a minute. If I interviewed you. Willing to work weekends and nights, even part time is a great start. You would be suprised how many chefs are willing to train someone with little to noexperience compaired to someone who has been cooking for 20 years. There is a time for the experienced cook and then there is a need for the newbie, someone to peel 50 pounds of shrimp, portion 30 pounds of pasta, prep salad dressings or cut a case of onions and peppers. All of these tasks no matter how trivial to a newbie are great skill sharpening tasks. T the chef you just saved him a days worth of work. So apply at alot of places and don't forget aboput health care facilities.

Peace Love and Good Food, DAVE


You are giving me much confidence, because I am almost the same situation with Aguaviolet.

I am hesitating  between  go to a culinary school and work in a restraunt

 

post #16 of 17

This thread is 4 years old. (NTTATWWT). 

post #17 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by IceMan View Post

This thread is 4 years old. (NTTATWWT). 



Only when I am about to click the submit buttom did i noticed the date.

Anyway, good advice never go out of date.

LOL, the thread starter is almost 30 now. How is he doing? Curious.

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