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finally made it to the line.

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
hey guys.

so i'm officially a line cook now. worked prep for the last 6 months and now, i'm working the station that prepares all the veggies and sides that that go along with every single entree on the menu.

the first 2 nights of training was ****. the shift starts at 2:30p and service starts at 5. within those 2.5 hours, i have to pump out a half sheet tray of gratin, a box of arborio for risotto, create a bearnaise, prepare 3 different kinds of rice, prepare about 20lbs of mash potatoes from scratch, do 2 other separate mash potatoes (each with different ingredients in them), chop veggies that are used in a stir fry, brunoise heart of palm and carrots, create crostinis that i slice from a loaf of french bread, trim the kernels off a bucket of corn, and fry up some pasta for garnish.

i come in at 11am and get a head start. i clock in at 2:30 and clock out a 12am. i sleep for 8 hours, and i'm getting dressed to get back into the fray 2 hours after i wake up.

the line is also ridiculous. the stress in nerve racking. i'm trembling on a normal night and i feel like breaking down on the busy ones. and they tell me with the holiday season coming up, they expect a 20% increase from what a busy night would be.

i'm not sure if i'll survive, but i also remember what it was like prepping by myself for the first time. i just hope that i can adjust accordingly.

any kind words of encouragement? personal stories?
post #2 of 14
Congratulations~!
post #3 of 14

finally made it

Since you have many of the same items every day, you will get a rhythm going & will learn the most efficient order. You will speed up and need less time. In the meantime, fill your off days with relaxation and peole you love.
post #4 of 14

Be sure you want it

Be sure that this is what you want, other wise you are wasting your time. I've seen this far too many times, people will waste years of their lives in a certain hotel or restaurant for nothing. If you are serious about it than realize that it is not much different anywhere. Over worked and under payed is this profession, no real changing that. You are at least fortunate enough to be using so many different ingredients and preparations that you are expanding your knowledge and ability probably faster and greater than you think, keep cooking!
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
i appreciate the reality check. the fact is, if i didn't cook for a living, i wouldn't know what else i'd do. and every other job i ever had, i ended up being a crappy worker because the job was boring or unchallenging, or just pointless. data input, retail, it was all just horrible.

it is also fact that this job has changed my lifestyle. for the first time, i go home from work with a sense of accomplishment. my co workers are more than just that. they have become like a dysfunctional family to me. i never showed up late to work. i never leave early. 10-20% of the time i spend in the kitchen is unpaid.

however, i do wish that we got paid more. i mean, right now, it's almost like slave wages. for the amount of effort and sweat i put into the kitchen, i could be making 2-3x as much doing something like construction. but... like i said... i can't see myself doing anything else but cooking.
post #6 of 14
Congratulations. Don't worry so much. You will get the hang of it. A good thing to do is ask some of the veterans for tips on shortcuts and more efficient ways of doing things. Most seasoned scallywags have ways of getting things done on the fly. As far as the stress goes, it will take a while to get used to it, but be careful not to panic. Keep your wits about you and push through. We all know the stress of working on a busy line. If you panic, you might as well pack your knives and go home for the day, because you will not recover in time to do anyone any good. After a while you will learn to thrive on the stress. I am never more relaxed than when I get to jump back on line during a hard push and bang out plates. You learn to love the adrenaline rush that comes along with it.
It's Good To Be The King!
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It's Good To Be The King!
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post #7 of 14
You bring back many fond memories (nightmares) from my line cook days. In my opinion, the hotline is 'basic training' that no chef should do without.

While you are burning your hands and forarms and making servers cry you will be forming a routine, rythem, and relationship with your fellow line cooks that will define the success of your restaurant. That's right, your restaurant. Take ownership and you will soon be running the show!
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
thanks a lot guys. it really helps to know that i'm not the only one out there when i ****up.

i went into the kitchen today and worked 6 hours for free (fun?) and we did about 180 covers and was slammed the entire time. i was told that we are booked for 215 tomorrow. so i'm looking to work like i look forward to getting my blood drawn. i'm sure i'll do ok. and i'll only get better right?

the chef told someone from the paperwork side of the restaurant that he likes my attitude.

i'll try not to let him down. even if i have to knock out the 280lb saute guy next to me who likes to run into me with hot pans.
post #9 of 14
One more bit of advice. I am all for putting in a little extra time off the clock to show dedication. Just remember that there is a fine line between taking one for the team and being a doormat. Don't let yourself be taken advantage of.
It's Good To Be The King!
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It's Good To Be The King!
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post #10 of 14
You show up 3.5 hours early to work and actually start working right away??? Uh, thats like a second parttime job. Dude if there's that much work, you gotta tell your boss to pay you for it or pay someone else to do part of it. Especially if you still have to show up early after a week or two on that position.
post #11 of 14
9ball....not to sound rude nor condescending....there are lots of restaurants that may have a slower pace, more one on one learning, something that will help you work into the skill set you'd need to not put in 3-6 extra hours a shift. Just seems to me a poor match. Again, not meant as critisim....
My first restaurant job was in a 2 man continental kitchen, scratch cooking....puff pastry, doughs, soups, etc. We had 4 people on a busy Friday or Sat. night......but it was not crazy making.
There are other venues available that will be able to work with you so that your not burning out. Frankly your posts are starting to be scary......
overworked, nor motivated.....not good for a newby, cooking is fun.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #12 of 14
yeah if you have to put 3-4 extra hours in for free they either need to pay you for them or hire a prep person, i know your trying to work you way up in the culinary field but it sounds like there taking advantage of you because your young and willing to work.
post #13 of 14
reading back through 9balls posts, it's his choice to put in extra time.....they are not asking for it, he wants to be up to par and be prepared before the firestorm.
My two cents was that there are smoother ways to gain experience than crushing yourself......there are postitions in different settings that will give you opportunities to gain experience without the overload, without the "lack of motivation" issue. Not all restaurants/food operations are the same.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 
i appreciate your concerns. the fact is, that this job is very stressful. in the kitchen and outside as well. i found out that my girlfriend has been seeing someone else on the side last night. dinner shift tonight will be extra rough.

i brought my concerns with various people in the kitchen who have had experience with my situation. they all have put in their, "free hours". they all pull the 6-day-a-week 12-14 hour shifts. the fact is that the kitchen i work at is one of the hardest in the state. trial by fire i guess. and it has been getting easier. i shaved off an hour yesterday. so only 2.5 hours early going in now.

the fact is that the prep, while hard, is doable in 2.5 hours. there's a pattern and shortcuts to it. i've seen people do it. but the fact of the matter is that i become a depreciating asset if i constantly need more time to get things done. especially if i demand pay for it.

i've learned the shortcuts, but it still has to work up to a routine. i still have a hard time doing brunoise of carrots. and those are where the extra 15 min. are coming from.

the guys in my kitchen are well seasoned. they work there knowing well enough that if and when they get out, they'll have infinitely more doors open for them. apparently every kitchen on the island values a veteran of the restaurant i work at. so again... trial by fire.

i'll let you guys know if i survive tonight. the stress on my love life had me sleeping for 3 hours last night. and i'm off to do an 11a-12a shift now. wish me luck.
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