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Trying to land this job

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
I'm moving to Santa Barbara and I have a second interview lined up with a very high end resort. I already got past HR, so now I'd be meeting with the chef I would work under.

The job I applied for is pastry cook, or assistant to the pastry chef. This job would be perfect.. it's exactly what I want to do, exactly the kind of place I want to work at (I want to learn in a professional environment), and it's close to home.

They are looking for experience, and I have 2 years as a pastry cook at a luxury resort under my belt. I also do it at home whenever I get the chance. I also tell them that I took the "adult career discovery" course at CIA for one week, but I always feel like a pansy when I tell them that. But, I suppose it shows that I want it for a career.

My problem is that I am terrible at selling myself! I know I would do a great job, but I always feel like they wouldn't believe me if I told them. I really don't have any proof except for a few photographs and a letter of reference from my last pastry chef. The thing about interviews that I hate are the questions like "Why pastries?" "What is your worst/best experience?" "What are your weaknesses/strengths?" I suppose those questions are essential, but god I just wish we could skip those. I get nervous and I forget all the points I wanted to make that I rehearsed the night before.

What should I focus on? I think I need to emphasize that I am creative and I have chosen this as a career and I want to grow and move up in the company, or industry for that matter.

Also, if they ask me to do some sort of tasting (cook level, not chef) I am afraid I would be a bit rusty because I was traveling for 4 months. I need to get back into the program for good things to happen; I even forgot the recipe for basic creme anglaise!

Ok, so pastry chefs: What do you have pastry cook candidates do for tastings?

Any more advice would be appreciated. Thanks for diving into my problems with me!

Oh yes, what should I put in my portfolio? Many of my photos are in storage.
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post #2 of 20
Congrats! I think you'll do great. Judging from the photos you've posted, you do some pretty good work.

Those kind of interviews suck. I try and preplan the answers to those generic interview questions. The hardest one to answer without sounding like a complete tool is the "What is your greatest weakness?" Does anybody answer that truthfully? Do they really expect somebody to say "I'm lazy and I steal stuff"? I end up telling them about one of the many times I rushed something and ruined it.

Anyway, I try and get the interviewer to do most of the talking and ask a few insightfull questions about the job to move things along. I suck at filling silences. Also, when I get nervous, shop talk helps.

Tastings...
Make yourself a cheat sheet with all the mother recipes. Like %'s for bread dough and cake batters, pate a choux, pastry cream, etc. The whole creme anglaise family tree (sauce, baked custards, ice cream base, baveriose, etc). Importent temps like for sugar or chocolate tempering. Ratio of geletin needed to thicken things. Stuff like that. Many of the recipies are easy to remember, like the 3-4-5 dough for pies, or 1:1:1:1 for tuiles.

I would do a little preplanning, and come up with a few lines of attack based on the style and menu of the restaurant. I think its a safe bet that at the cook level they are looking for skill and production ability then creativeness.

The last time I witnessed a pastry tasting for a potential hire, the bosses had her make a chocolate cake. She failed. I think she might have psyched herself out, but she was soooo slow and confused. The bosses always ask the crew what they think of a new cook after their stage, so keep that in mind.

I've heard that way back in the day, the "show me what you've got" cake was the Gateu St Honere, since it had you making many of the basic components (puff, choux, pastry cream, caramel, and chibost(I don't think chiboust is used anymore)).

Portfolio...
I always put menus of the places I worked, along with a couple of copies from my notebook about items that came off my station, photos of the plating. I've even got a copy of a review where the critic had eaten a dish that I had made and liked it. I also added a couple of pages from the recipe book and costing that I put together for the boss at an old job. I also kept a copy of the contract from some of the more memorable events that I worked.
post #3 of 20
Thread Starter 
Wow! Thanks a lot for your response! It's very helpful.

I wish I had my own recipe book.. believe me, I have PLENTY of recipes, but they are all on a small scale. I used the recipe books provided at work, and I had to leave them. I have some of the big books; On Cooking, Professional Cooking, etc.. but they are in storage! I have some photos from work that I can put in my portfolio, as well as some banquet menus from the website (I didn't take much from work as far as menus, Just like me. I wasn't planning ahead!)

Well, I know how to throw a basic chocolate cake together, and I'm pretty **** good at it. I just need some warning. I imagine that they will tell me that I will be doing a tasting.. I don't think they would surprise me with one. Right?

Well, I'm getting pretty excited. I just keep thinking about how at ease I was once I got to know the chef at my last job, and it helps me feel less intimidated.

My weakness: would it be Ok to say sugar? I haven't really done sugarwork. BUT I can learn quickly!

My strenghts: I have an eye for detail and creative touches and I can multitask.

Worst experience: Our pastry chef left two of us for a different job in the beginning of December. I had to create and make ALL of the desserts for the restaurant Christmas Eve and Christmas day all by myself for about 200. That's 5 desserts for about 200 people, give or take. Awful, awful time. It went ok though. I think I have a post about that experience on this board.

Best experience: A vegan group of about 140 women come to the resort twice a year and I basically help the whole staff with the menu and I made ALL of the desserts (I used to be vegan). They raved about them and it's one of the reasons why they come back every year. This year they didn't have me, and I bet the desserts weren't as good.
you should have seen them try to grill silken tofu! Hilarious.

Would you hire me?
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #4 of 20
Yeah, I'd give ya a shot. It all depends on the stage and all that.

I doubt they would surprise you with a tasting. You should ask. They might stick you with a mystery basket. You won't be scared of a pastry ambush because you'll have gone through a few different scenarios in your mind so you'll know what to do.

I'll see if I can find my cheat sheet....If you've got access to a copy of bo Friburg's book, he's got a few good charts in there. Always take notes in your down time.

Sugar is one of those tough things that takes years to master, so it shouldn't count against you. The basic technique is used to make a variety of candies so its good to know, but when it comes to artwork, I'm hopeless. All my sugar roses look like sugar cabbages.

Vegan Desserts! Bravo. Same with handling your dessertsfor Dec all by your lonesome.

How are your cake decorating skills? They might want to bring stuff like that in house.

If you feel comfortable with it, tell us a little more about your potential job. You can get the whole ChefTalk braintrust behind you.
post #5 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the reply.

I'm fabulous at cake decorating! I can make a rose in an instant, but I've never worked with fondant or sugar flowers, etc. I'm good with buttercream and frostings, and I can cut a cake evenly :). I'm also very creative with toppings/decorations.

I'm interviewing with Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara. It is a full time job as a pastry assistant (it's actually unclear what they want; they know I am not a chef) in their restaurant, Miro. It specializes in Basque/Catalonian cuisine, and I just returned from that region last month! I'm definitely going to get that out there. If you go to the website, bacararesort.com, you'll see how high end it is. I'm excited about working there.

Right now, I'm staying in a hotel, putting my portfolio together (late, I know). I have a bunch of pictures and I'm going to put some dessert menus in it as well. Upon adding my resume, cover letter, and letter of reference, that is all I have. My husband is staying in hotels to go to school at UCSB because our apartment is not available until the 19th. Neat, eh? I live about 3 hours away with my parents until we can move. I hope that we can get the drug testing/tasting out of the way while I am up here for the week.

Well, I'll be up all night! Checking back periodically...

By the way, I see you are in LA.. I am currently living in Orange County around the Fullerton area. SOCAL! I'm totally kidding.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #6 of 20
I'm in the San Fernando Valley. Did you go to Orange Coast Collage over in Costa Mesa? Their pastry team kicked our ***** when I was at LATTC.


Man that place is faaaancy. Named after Joan Miro hmmm That guy painted some crazy stuff. They didn't post there full menu though. Off to do some googling on this place...
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
I went to Cal Poly Pomona and got a bachelor's in Hotel and Restaurant Management. That's why I stick to resorts.. I know what goes into running one. However, I prefer the BOH for the most part.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #8 of 20
Is Remi Lauvand still in the chef? He's a heavy hitter...Montrechet...Le Cirque...

Check out this dish he made at the Beard house in '99
Mille-Feuille
with Caramelized Pear and Caramel

The flavors would work with Spanish/Basque food.

I almost went to Cal Poly, but I was getting tired of school at that point. Resorts hmm, I gravitated to standalone restaurants and catering. BOH is were it's at.

Jeez, you're like a triple threat!

Edit: Never mind. Lauvand moved to Sevilla. It's still close by though.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
No, he works at Sevilla now. ::Restaurant Sevilla::

David Garwacki is the chef of Miro now. All I know about him is that he won an award for a steak rub for some texas beef council? It's all over google!

The pastry chef (Ben Galang) for the banquet department is amazing, apparently. I guess students really want to work under him. He does complete wedding cakes for the property; HR showed some photos to me during my first interview.

Oh, I don't think Miro has a pastry chef. I will find out tomorrow.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #10 of 20
Good Luck! Get some sleep and snag a menu!

Ask Garwacki about the beef rub!:) I know he used to work as the chef at Bistro at the resort.

Looks like most of your time will be taken up with ala carte desserts, not too bad. At the last fancy place I was at the pastry crew spent a good third of their time on their garnishes and the little petite four stuff that goes with the coffee. They also spent a lot of time fiddling with their PacoJet.

There is a lot of depth and esotericness in Spanish pastry. It depends on how traditional they are leaning.

Anyway, I've got access to some of the pro pastry books if you need anything looked up.

You're going to nail that interview.
post #11 of 20
Think you might get a job with Galang?

Anyway...this made me think of yemas, which is a candy made from egg yolks and sugar. Lots of different procedures, and major foodie points since it doesn't show up much here. There's a convent in Spain where the nuns are famous for there yemas. It's both philipino and spanish, so you'll get play with Miro and Galang.
post #12 of 20
Thread Starter 
I think it's in the bag. I don't know if I'm down for pastry station, I would rather work mornings. I would take the job, but I e-mailed the pastry chef for fourseasons as well. I think they may have available what I want.

****.

Oh yea, that dessert looks rich but tasty.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #13 of 20
Hi, I'm late jumping in, but if the resort is doing their on site wedding cakes, they may want you to do some of that.

When I went for my interview for the "exclusive luxury Island" I brought in a cake..lol had just done it at school labs and was able to take it home, but I'm a savory person and didn't know what to do with it until the light bulb went off...HR pounced on the cake and wouldn't let the kitchen have it..lol

The portfolio is a good idea since they do wedding cakes, a few of the recipes that you've worked on is fine also.

as long as you have your knowledge "tight" you will do OK.

just destress! I know I cannot bake worth a damm if I'm upset...the last thing I butchered was a chocolate cake I was supposed to torte...I was so upset that I ended up with mush!

and the time after that I was trying to make banana cake and decided to "teak" up the flavoring and over did my hand with the flavoring. was eliminating the nuts due to potential allergic reactions.....( was also very upset when I was baking this...)

so now I know, when I'm overly emotional, I stay away from my ovens....good thing it only happens once every 2 years..lol
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi Risque,

Unfortunately, they weren't hiring for any cake decorating position, although they do onsite cakes. The position was for the dessert station in the restaurant, and unfortunately they said I don't have enough experience in that high stress environment (which I could handle, but I'm awful at selling myself).

So now I'm back at the beginning. I made up a portfolio, and it's really nice. I like carrying it around; it makes me feel important. :smoking:
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #15 of 20
Harpua, I think people who are bad at selling themselves can make GREAT employees. I really appreciate a person who will give you a straight answer and not spin everything, gild the lily, try to hide mistakes instead of just being honest, etc...

It sounds like you have lots to offer and hope you find the right fit soon!!!:bounce:
post #16 of 20
I totally agree with this, right now I have in intern and she is more quiet than a mouse.

It's true she doesn't have the speed or experience, but she is methodical in her very quiet and efficient way.

She would make a great boh person.

I myself couldnt/wouldn't hire her since I'm so not busy most days, but when I get orders it's like POO hitting the fan and I have to get a cake, baked and totally decorated to go in less than 3 hours. If she came to me with more experience, I would give her a job on the spot!

But, she did say her next step is to work at a hotel to see if she's into production work.

I can only give her one instruction at a time, if I give her more than one...when I come to see how far she's gotten..she's doing stuff totally not the way I instructed..lol...But, she's great at keeping my place clean, she is very thorough and works well alone.

Right now she's driving herself to finish her projects, I suggested that she investigated online for her recipes and download some pics, ( I wanted to see is she is an honorable person) and quess what?

She totally wants to bake everything and only takes pictures of her very own work!


I've given her the key to my shop...hehehehe!

Love this girl!

Good and bad, there is always something!! But it's really nice to have another body there. I just wish she was more creative so I could bounce ideas off her, everything I suggest, she loves..lol
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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post #17 of 20
Thread Starter 
Thank you!
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #18 of 20
Aww I realized I didn't make this post about you..sorry, but just letting you know that it doesn't matter if you " sell" yourself or not, and we've all been there not getting a job we so desire..

but, not being able to sell yourself is not a minus, let your work speak for itself.

Believe me, a very lucky employer will see you as a diamond in the rough and snatch you up!!
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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post #19 of 20
In my other career I was in charge of a 75 man night shift. Totally unrelated to culinary. I will tell you one thing I loved your worst experience. It shows you know how to think, and complete a task at hand. If that's your worst you have one helluva career ahead of you. Sorry you didn't get the job.

Mike
post #20 of 20
Thread Starter 
Just to bring everyone up to date, I landed a pastry chef position in a very up and coming french restaurant in santa barbara. This community is very demanding, and the chef decided to take a chance on me. I have an "I can do anything" attitude, and I do lots of research when something comes up. A few new dishes I've never heard of but are my responsibility include:

Torte Blette (sweet swiss chard pastry)
Panisse (garbanzo flour crepes or fries)

I'm so excited. You may be hearing from me once in awhile. Here is the opening dessert menu:

Creme Caramel with fresh fruit
Orange Blossom Baba au Rhum with Angelica Cream
Tarte aux prunes, frangipane, ginger ice cream
"Bread and Butter" with pistachio cake and marquise chocolate mousse
Cheese plate (4 cheeses, one accompaniment for each)
Torte Blette

concerned about the cheese plate. Wish me luck!
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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