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Interview frustration

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi, I'm new. Never been on a message board before and not sure why I am now. Just frustrated from an interview I had today. I have catered for 20 years and consider myself quite skilled and an excellent cook, though not classically trained. Business has been way down, so I thought I might get a job prepping for someone else. I interviewed today at a fine restaurant. The interview started with dice, julienne and mire poix. Apparently I didn't measure up. "Not bad, but not great". When I tried to expand the interview to talk about my experience, the chef just said, "everything I need to know about you I can see right there" pointing at the produce I had prepped. Interesting philosophy, but bull I thought. What do you think? I am to call on Thursday to see what he has decided, "if you'll be a good fit". I'm thinking...please someone call for a big catered party (or 20) so I don't have to work for someone else. I live in Michigan and the economy is the worst ever. Any thoughts??
thanx
post #2 of 14
Hello Cater Diva and welcome to Chef Talk. I'm going to move your post to a forum where it'll get the attention it deserves. Good luck with your quest.

We hope you return to the Welcome Forum to introduce yourself. Until then, Welcome!
Mezzaluna
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
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Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
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post #3 of 14
Welcome to the Cheftalk forum, sorry for the trouble your business is experiencing.

Since you don't indicate how desperate the situation is, out of cash, behind on lease?

Lets look at it both ways. First the job was prep and prep is prep so if they want perfect 1/8th by 1/8th cuts than that is what they want to see. And since you would be doing prep, that is really all they need to see. To be honest prep sucks. So if you don't want your knife skills measured don't apply for jobs like that.

30 years of cooking for me now and I would never go to a fine dining restaurant to work. I have been institutional cafeteria or remote location catering my whole career. Don't have the patients for the each plate for each customer stuff. Just no longer in me. So I go to help by being the fry guy or bread proofer baker. Cause I have not worked on true knife cuts for years. When you cut stuff 150 pounds at a time there are allowances.

Assuming you are not ready to file bankruptcy in the near future have you considered looking into doing corporate work? And street marketing that hard?

Grand Rapids Michigan, I have a friend in Holland MI might need help. Banquet stuff.

Might I also suggest you check with the local hotels in the area and the convention center if there is one. Catering is more aligned to hotel banquet service and convention banquet service than a fine dining place. They would appreciate your skills and have an interest in your experience as a caterer cause they have the same type problems with masses to feed.
I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
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I am a reduction of my youthful mistakes mixed with the roux of a few adult successes
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post #4 of 14
it's as if you're taking it personally. every chef I have ever met seems to have a certain air about them. not saying this for all chefs by any means but the kitchen is usually ran in a hierarchy and I suppose this is to be expected..

We really do need to hear more about your current situation.. whats led you to this point, is the option of moving a reality? What about your previous clients? Have you approached any Lounges/Nightclub that do not have food available but may want to expand into Events and planning?

I'm all ears :)
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your kind concern...I am not sure why my business is down. The catering and the food styling were both doing great until the end of July, then it died. I am a small caterer, been at it 20 years and make a tidy income to suppliment the family lifestyle, but have also begun food styling in the last 3 years. I have a production background (TV camerawoman in my youth and production assistant at tv stations), with a degree in theatre arts...go figure, but they all seem to come together with the food styling. My passion for fabulous food, coupled with the dramatic flair for presentation and an eye for the camera. I have been working for Jennair, Kitchenaid and Whirlpool products lately, but they aren't shooting much food right now (mostly shooting laundry products at the moment). I talked to the Photo services director and he said he's "as happy as a pig in mud" with me and my work and will call me as soon as they have a need for a food stylist again. The catering is down because...I don't know why. I cater everything, but also cater film and video shoots and do the craft services and lunches for the client, talent and crew. My shoot clients have said they are slow right now. Michigan. Worst economy in the nation I hear and we are feeling it.

Anyway. On a positive note, I did have an interview with a new food photographer and he wants to shoot a "test shot" with me. Which means that he looked at my portfolio and liked it enough to donate some time for us to shoot something for our books. Also booked a Christmas party and a wedding this morning, so that is great. I am just feeling the pinch financially and need some cash flowing through my bank account - I say through cuz it never does stick around very long.

In a way, I hope I don't get that job with the fine dining. I think they will try to really beat me down as a prep cook, and not being a "certified" chef - I'm sure that they won't let me actually cook anything. I don't know. I am very ambivalent about it obviously.
thanx again for your interest in my situation.
post #6 of 14
i'm not really sure what other advice I could give as I don't know your full situation.. but is it at all possible for you to go on unemployment for the time being if things are getting that bad?

maybe it is time for you to start looking elsewhere for supplemental income? By that I mean possibly a different or city a little further away? im not sure what else to offer :(
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
I have never taken a dole and don't intend to. I will find work in one way or another. Moving is not an option. My husband has a great job and the kids are in school here. So it's not that bad, just want to make more money like everyone else.
post #8 of 14
If you want to make money fast, go work as a waitress or bartender for a hotel, banquet hall or catering operation. Seriously, doing prep work or kitchen work pays quite a bit less than you can make in the FOH. This way, you get to keep the control of being your own boss on the food/cooking/catering side while viewing the business from another angle. I am about to take a part time side job with a caterer just to learn more about the business, but if I was looking for more money, I'd bartend.

-Kevin
post #9 of 14
smart smart Kevin....money is in FOH.....I'm paying alot for people to pour soda, btl water and red/white wine....please....how difficult is this?And they get paid premium rates with tips on top.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #10 of 14
While your knife skills were probably what made the Chef decide against you, sometimes it's something else.
I've had Chef's ask new hires to dice an onion, and before they even made their first cut, they were asked to leave.
Why?
They didn't wash their hands.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi all. Here's un update on my job situation.
The chef hasn't decided against me, China Jim, but hasn't hired me yet either. (Of course I washed my hands first!) It's been 2 1/2 weeks since I had the first "interview" with the knife test. After that chef asked me to come back for a working interview, and I worked banquet with him and the other chefs/cooks. 2 banquets for 100 ppl ea. Plus the two restaurants they run out of the same facility. There were probably 10 or 12 of us working in the kitchen. It went very well, in fact both the EC and his first chef (what do you call that position?) told me I was very fast, took direction well, had very good knife skills :), and everyone really enjoyed working with me. They told me that when I went back for a wage meeting. That was last Thursday and he told me to call him yesterday...which I did but didn't manage to get a hold of him until today at 3 p.m. when he told me the chef's meeting had been moved to today. He told me he would call me. I know they had a big banquet tonight, so I don't expect to hear from him until tomorrow. It's been 3 weeks and I am losing some of the enthusiasm that I had for the job, but time will tell. I did work two days this week as a food stylist for Whirlpool and Kenmore, so I made some money at least. I love the food styling, there just isn't that much available at the moment. I'm looking at some other kitchen work and hoping the catering picks up. I will do some marketing tomorrow and send out emails to clients I haven't heard from lately. What a saga, eh?!
post #12 of 14
Sorry that I misread your post CD.
The best of luck to you, I hope you get your answer soon.
:chef:
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks! for that positive note. I hope I get some kind of answer. Just booked 3 lunches for the catering! Yeah! I know it's small, but I am just a small time caterer (for the past 20 years), so one or two jobs a day is just great for me.
post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
Another update. They called and said all they are looking for is a prep cook for $8-$9/hr. I had asked for $13/hr., which he thought he could get for me. Now I knew they would low ball me, but I think that is ridiculous for 20 years of cooking experience. I turned it down. Screw them. They can manage without me I'm sure. 3 weeks of waiting to hear that crap.
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