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post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I would like someone to expand on the thread in the Pro section. I do totally understand working to learn w/ lil, or no pay. As it says I am a culinary student. I don't expect to walk in, and get anywhere near top $$$. School will give me a good base to start from. We are taught real world ways, and techniques. In fact the head of the dept. is one of my instructors this semester. He came out, and said if you think school is going to teach you everything you need to know you better WAKE UP. Sorry for being long winded, but I wanted to let you know that I do understand the diff between school, and the world.

Now to my question. Why does it seem to be an acceptable practice to have people work for free under the guise of learning? This in other industries is called an entry position. This would never happen in any other industry. Why does it seem so prevelent in the food industry?

Thanks,
Mike
post #2 of 24
The practice has been around for decades. Long before culinary schools started to appear, apprenticeships were the way you got started in this business. People are still willing to accept this, so it continues.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #3 of 24
It's only the very high end places with big-name Chefs that want you to work for free for weeks or months. It is very common for many places to ask you to work a 3 or 4 hr shift before hiring you. Why, you ask?

Anybody can fly through an interview, anybody can make a resume look great, but the real acid-test is the first 4 hrs in the kitchen: How you move, how you don't, the questions you ask, the questions you don't, and, most importantly, what you can produce within a given time. Nobody wants to hire, then find out the new guy is a dud and then have to get rid of him/her, and STILL look for a new guy.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 
Oh I do understand trying someone out. With the question of 9ball in the Pro section I wondered how widespread this is. I have heard of it happening, and reading it in other forums.
I guess my question should be. Doesn't the owner of the facility worry about someone going to the labor board? Why take the risk? You built a business, then risk it over something like this. That just doesn't make sense to me.

Mike
post #5 of 24
If you are merely there to demo, you technically aren't employed, so no labor issue.
There could be an insurance issue, but a signed waiver should suffice there.
The big difference between this and other industries is that you are dealing with a perishable commodity prepared for the immediate consumption by the client.
In most industries, if you make a mistake it can be remedied fairly easily, the product remelted or whatever.
The customer never knows a mistake was made.
Here, in the most dangerous profession in the world, your mistake can be costly, possibly even deadly.
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 #6 of 24

Some Interesting Rationales Here

Hmmmmm? Let's see:

1. It's always been that way. Uh, huh. Until recently it's always been that way for Afro-Americans to sit in the back of the bus; for women to work for less money doing the same job; for.......

2. Nobody wants to make a mistake hiring the wrong person. So, unlike any other industry, the hiree should bear the burdon of management error? Nonsense!

3. Mistakes can be deadly. By this argument, medical interns should not be paid for their work. Nor should any new hire in any potentially dangerous occupation. So, according to this rationale, if you have ambitions in any of the following, expect a trial period with no pay: logging, commercial fishing, medical work of any kind, bar keeping, .......

4. Apprenticeships were the way people got started in this business. True. Also the way they got started in any craft-oriented business. But an apprenticeship program is not the same as working free shifts. In general, we do not have a guild system, and, with rare exception (such as the program at the Greenbriar---where, btw, apprentices do get paid), we do not have apprentice systems. The culinary schools, in theory, have replaced that form of basic learning.

The fact is, trial without pay is a practice done for only one reason: They can get away with it. There are enough people more than willing to prove themselves that they're willing to not get compensated for doing some rather hard work.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 24
It is similar to the nursury and garden center that I worked at. For me, it was not bad as I only have a Bsc. that is not in horticulture yet I was only making $1 less than the G.M. that possesed a Bsc. in horticulture the only reason why she was being paid so low was that she allowit to be so. I convinced her and many others to play hardball with the owner and you know what? Everybody now enjoys a larger paycheque and the owner has seen a good return in the extra money that had to be forked out for higher wages and that is due to the fact that more money = higher work ethic.

I dunno about what is a good wage in the kitchen but I am going to be working in one in another month for the first time and as a line cook and I'll be grossing 1800.00/month. Mind you, after taxes I'll probably only see 1100.00 of it per month.
"Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think."

Finley Peter Dunne
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"Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think."

Finley Peter Dunne
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post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
I don't get the deadly arguement. If you have someone there your "trying out" Wouldn't the first thing you do is make sure they wash thier hands? After that it would involve the hiring establishment. I also have to argue with fixing a mistake easily. In my former profession I was N/S foreman of a 75 man crew. I'll tell ya when you have to pay two guys to sit there, and fix one guys mistake it can get very costly quickly.

Thanks for all the responses,
Mike
post #9 of 24
Cooking is unlike any other profession.
Breaks are a luxury.
The kitchen is hot, sharp and slippery.
Your ability to multitask is used to a level very few other professions even attempt.
The customer is always white.
You get to watch health and sanitation films that tell you that "if you are sick you should stay home, your boss will surely understand", and you are expected not to laugh loud and long at this.
You are expected to be part artist, part chemist, part robot, part kamikaze.

And you ask why there is an unusual practice going on in this field?
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 #10 of 24
KYhierloomer, I agree with you on that the places that pull this kind of stuff only do it because they can get away with it. They have a reputation and they can milk it for all they're worth.

I can not agree with point #2 however. A wrong hire is not neccesarily the management's fault. Many fudge on their resumes, many lie when asked if they want to work, lie if they agree with the salary, lie if they think the commute from work to home is fair.
It would be wrong to "assume" that John Doe is lying when he said he worked 3 years a saucier in some place 4 States away and is not worth making a phone call to check up on. Other than that, he looks good,--talks the talk, walks the walk, so how do make sure he isn't B.S.-ing you? The acid test is the first 4 hrs in the kitchen.

Cooks have been paid cra* and will continue to be paid cra*. Lovely stuff you wrote about Afro-Americans, busses and Women's equality, but these things changed because they were rammed down the public's maw and forced to be dealt with. Restaurants are businesses and will ONLY change according to the public's demand. Right now the public deems it acceptable that the waiter earn a $100 tip for the whole dining experience (and in some States is mandated by the State Gov't NOT to share it with anyone) and the cook should shut up and be happy.

Change the public's view on things, maybe we might get paid better....
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #11 of 24
Foodpump, hiring somebody who can't do the job is always management's fault. Sure, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances. But at it's simplest the potential employee merely asked to be hired. There was nothing compelling the employer to do so. And it's the employer's responsibility to assure that the person asking for the job is the right one.

If, to use your example, the employer couldn't be bothered checking references, why is that the new-hire's fault?

If a new hire doesn't cut the mustard, then you rectify your mistake by firing the bum.

The point is, if somebody is asked to do the work, they should be paid for it. And there are all sorts of ways to accomplish this. You don't have to hire them. You can set up a work-for-hire deal, whereby the person puts in a shift, or a half shift, or whatever as an outside contractor. Then, if it works out, he/she gets hired.

You can hire them provisionally, whereby they work for X amount of time, at regular rates, during which period they can be dismissed for any reason whatsoever.

All factory work is, essentially, done that way today. New hires are brought in from a temp agency. After a certain period, if they work out, they are then made permanent staff. But nobody would dare suggest that they not get paid during this trial period.

Maybe the first four hours in the kitchen does tell the tale. But so what? If I put in those four hours I'd certainly expect to be paid for them.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 24
Yeah, sure, hiring is always the management's responsibility. We exist, therfore everything is our responsibility. Taking my example about John Doe, do you think that John Doe bears just a LITTLE responsibility for b.s.sing on his resume?
But this is, as you point out the mangement's fault for not checking up. Now, how about something a little more common? John Doe aces the interview but lies about his place of residence. He knows he won't get the job if he lives 15 miles, two bus routes, and one transfer away. It would also be wrong for the employer not to hire him because of this, something many employees use to their advantage, as they can always go the the Labour Board and whine about unfair hiring practices and get some kind of compensation, but I digress. So he gets hired, his work is O.K. but he pulls a no-show a week later, and then the invariable message on the answering machine at 2:00 am that he thinks the job won't work out because it's too far away and to please send his paycheck to... Aprox 20 hrs of the mangmt's time is lost training John Doe, and another 10 -20 hrs will be spent looking and interviewing for a replacement. Yup mngmt's responsible all right.

Yes, we should get paid for 4 hr try out shifts, I always pay them, even when it's totally obvious that they can't do what they said they could do (would this constitute fraud, per chance?). Pretty cheap insurance, that's one way of looking at it. I can't speak for the other places. Face it, cooking is a transient trade, no one lasts longer than a year usually. Unions in the hospitality industry are just a huge excuse to garnishee dues from paychecks, and many Unions clearly state that no Union benifits or representation will be given to new employees for a period of anywhere from 3 mths to a year; of course, paychecks are garnisheed immediatly. This, in my humble opinion is a clear case of theft on the Union's part. But, again, I digress. Just as there are employers who abuse employess, there are employees whoabuse the employers, and there are proportionately more employees than employers.......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #13 of 24
The assertion that no other industry uses interns or conducts apprenticeship programs is false, and not restricted to craftsmen/women either. I am a banker and investment portfolio manager with an MBA- got my first job in finance by working... an internship, unpaid. Got my MBA after, you guessed it, a mandatory internship, unpaid.

And hiring a knucklehead ALWAYS is management's responsibility, even if they're a creative knucklehead with a BS resume.
post #14 of 24
Good. Wish you luck in hiring your next employee. Remember now it's all your fault if things go bad, and all the employee's effort when things work out good.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #15 of 24
Interesting how the Professional Cook's view is realistic and the Home Cooks view is idealistic.
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 #16 of 24
Couldn't agree with you more. The key to change is education and the more people that are 'educated' to this problem the more likely change will occur. Hmmm.... I wonder what larry king is up to?
"Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think."

Finley Peter Dunne
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"Ye can lead a man up to the university, but ye can't make him think."

Finley Peter Dunne
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post #17 of 24
It's this whole issue of "everything is the Management's fault" that really gets to me. I would like to illustrate a few typical, albeit true, situations I have found myself in in the last 2 years.

Case 1) Jane Doe is hired as a driver for a catering co. She was laid off from a previous similar postion, references were checked, a trial period was set up, and Jane was hired. Jane did her job very well, had good rapport with clients and her employers. On one particular day, 3 1/2 mths after starting with us all **** breaks loose. It started off normally enough, her route and delivery schedule were discussed. One client specifially requested a 1 pm delivery, which worked out well, because Jane could take her lunch break from 11:45 to 12:45. At 12;30 we get a call from the Client telling us that Jane "rammed the food on the reception desk, told us to like it or throw it out, and stormed out". 1 pm Jane shows up in a shambles, weeping. No explanation for her behavior. She never shows up for work again. Later we find out her son was in "serious trouble". Client refuses to pay for the food, we loose the client and ontop of this the client bad mouths our service.

Case 2) On-site conference catering gig. We have our regular waitress as well as a new girl on site. New girl has worked 3 or 4 parties with us, references are good, work habits from last gigs are good. 11;30 we get a panic call from the regular girl, new girl had rifled through her purse and took the keys to our catering van. It was perfectly explained to the new girl that the regular girl would drive the van back to pick up the lunch buffet. We have to rent a van and get the food out, late, but no complaints. New girl shows up at 1 pm with some kind of mumbled exuse about getting coffee cups. My face is the colour of a rotten strawberry but I keep my cool and, as it is the last day of the month, ask her if she got "all the heavy furniture moved". Must have caught her off-guard, because she started to say yes, then clammed up. To top it off she wanted overtime for her little grand theft auto escapade.

Scenerio 3 happens fairly regularly. New hire, passes the standard 4 hour trial shift, given p/t for 2 weeks, then offered a f/t position. Newbie accepts, starting salary and hours agreed upon. As someone who's been in this biz, I cover myself always and have extra staff on hand in case the newbie doesn't show up. He doesn't.

Now, using the "management is always to blame" model in all three case studies, the manager in question would have to be a quivering, blubbering wreck apologising profusely for the weather, the situation in Iraq, and generally just being alive and taking up space.

Using the "reality sucks, but is very real" model, the manager would agree that s/he has one all that was humanly, intelligently (and legally) possible, and can not take responsibility for other people's actions.

Have fun in the restaurant biz......
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #18 of 24
Uh... bluedogz?... KYHeirloomer?

Anyone want to come out and play?
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #19 of 24
Not me. Not if you keep changing the rules.

I made a specific statement. You broadened the concept, and then used your larger rubric to "prove" me wrong.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #20 of 24
Seen these tactics used elsewhere...
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #21 of 24
This is common in a lot of trades/industry.

Look into tattooing (probably best example to compare to)

you cannot, I repeat cannot get into tattoo industry without an apprenticeship. and by that I mean sometimes you have to PAY for one....friend of mine, after graduating art school paid 10k for an apprenticeship. (of course now he makes well over 6 figures and works 3 days a week)

hard work is hard work...and work ethic isn't what it used to be.
post #22 of 24
Yeah, sure. I believe you wrote that "hiring someone who can't do the job is always the management's fault" on the top of page 2.

My point is that each manager does his/her best NOT to do just that by using various interviewing techniques, and observing on-the-job work habits to see if they can do what they say they can do. In a perfect world this would be great, but you have to factor in the human element: You can never tell what someone will do a few months down the road; what situations in thier private and social lives affect them and their behavior--and subsequently how they perform at work.

Should you have any experience in dealing with the State Labour Board or State Worker's Comp Board you might soften your views a bit. In my Province of B.C. both Gov't agencies function on the "Mexican principle". That is, the employer is always assumed guilty until he proves his innocence at his own cost, or as they put it, "the onus is on the employer". When the employer has proved his innocence, at his cost, and won,. he has no recourse to compensation or even acknowledgement that the claim was false. This means that with any little percieved violation the employee can lodge a complaint without any evidence to back it up. Paycheck issues, overtime issues, fired for theft, repetitive lateness or no-shows are all claimed by employees that do not have to furnish any proof of their accusations and it costs them nothing to do so. When you fire someone, the first thing they do is lodge a complaint and your time is spent proving that the firing was called for. From the ex-employee's point of view he has nothing to loose. From the employer's point of view his time is wasted, and if he is not aware of any rules or changes, he might get dinged with a fine on an un-related issue.

To "fire the bum if he can't cut the mustard" is a tactical move. 90% of the time performance of the said bum slacks off after the mandatory 3 mth probationary period has elapsed. Said bum knows the rules and just sits there grinning at you, as you will have to go through extreme efforts with the labour board to prove that firing was justified so you won't get fined for compensation. The one weapon you have in your arsenal is to slash back shifts so the said bum will quit on his own accord. Please remember that the hospitality business is a transient one, with the average length of employment under a year. There are no or very few benefits and certainly no retirement schemes.

It's true I might fight strange on this issue, but not dirty. The Chef or manager does what is humanly possible to hire the best candidate for the job, but people are tricky, you can never tell what's going to happen in a few months down the road.

I hope I have provided those who do not work in the hospitality industry with a small insight as to how and why a Chef behaves as s/he does whn dealing with staff.
...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #23 of 24
I once had an employee no show for 3 shifts, after which point according to the legally carefully written employee handbook, they were terminated. They complained to the labor board, completely falsely, that when they came to pick up their final pay check in the middle of a lunch rush, that I made them wait 30 minutes for their paycheck.

Their paycheck was written days before and they didn't have to wait at all. Bingo, they had it and were out the door.

I couldn't prove that I didn't make them wait. Guess who had to pay big time fines and reimbursement to employee for emotional pain and suffering or some other bogus phrase.

During the hearing the judge got so ticked off at the attitude of my former employee that he finally told her to sit down, shut up, and not to say another word. The judge then looked at me and said he empathized with me, but proceeded to tell told me that I was guilty until proven innocent, his hands were tied in the matter. He then ruled against me.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #24 of 24

Lost thread

It seems to me there are wires crossed here. The idea of working for free is to gain experience and knowledge from a high class restaurant or hotel. Top establishments get thousands of applicants for jobs without even advertising. If you are not one of the fortunate ones to gain full time work, then i would advise any chef hoping to reach the top of the ladder to offer to work for no wages. Not only would the experience make it worth while your job prospects would improve with a top class kitchen on your cv. In 1974 when I was lucky enough to get a position of apprentice chef at the Savoy hotel London 1000 people a week were applying for jobs that does not mean 999 people were not good enough but its my cv that has 5 years training at The Savoy hotel on it.
Steve www.masterchefinfrance.com
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