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Cooking in Las Vegas?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
This is my first post on here and I wanted to say hello.

-I have been desperately searching for any kind of information on the LV job market. I'm thinking about moving from Baltimore to LV for multiple reasons like, the weather, job market, and big time restaurants. It seems like a city that If you pay your dues you can move up the chain. It seems like restaurats are always in need of help on criagslist, even the real good spots.

-I'm very eager, and I think that this city would be a good fit for me. I'm pretty young 27 and I'm married with no kids so this seems like a good time to move and try and establish myself somewhere else. NYC isn't for me and I'm really trying to go somewhere warm. I'm done with partying too, lol.

-I was also wondering about LCB in Vegas, and UNLV's program. Which is better?

-Anyone know how hard it is toget a job at one of these spots, Bouchon, Mesa Grill, or Roubochon, Bouloud, Ogden, English, Mina's restaurants. Food for thought right? I will peel anything and scrub pans to work for a 3 star restaurant hehe.

- FWIW, I have mostly line cook exp. (4 years)but I also some entery level Sous exp(1).. Decent with stocks, soups and sauces.

Any thoughts would be great!! Thanks again!
post #2 of 34
I also see Vegas in the long term future. Everytime I visit the city, I fall more and more in love with it.

The owner of a small seafood restaurant I go to each visit always has LCB externs working in the kitchen. He seems to be pleased with the quality of students the school produces (which is a change from what other employers usually have to say about LCB)

Connections I would guess are a huge plus. Working for a sister restaurant in another city is probably the best way to get a foot in the door.

Experience with hotels and/or extreme high volume production is probably the best thing to have on a resume.

While I dont think I answered any questions with solid answers, just talking about vegas gets me excited. Best of luck to you in your career path. You never know, maybe well end up on the line together sometime.
post #3 of 34
I know two people that have worked for the Bouchon here in Vegas and it is not as hard to get into as you might think. Vegas is a strange city for cooks and some of the rules are slightly different here.
Many of the cooks in Vegas work in the casinos, or restaurants run by the casinos, that are either part of the Culinary Union or at least offer the wages and benefits to stay competitive with those that are union. That means that an experienced line cook may be making $15-17/ hr, free health insurance and paid vacation after a year. By comparison, some of the free standing restaurants like Bouchon have a hard time competing. They offer health insurance, but only pay half and the wages are lower. Therefore they have higher turnover. People want to get in to have the name on their resume, but once in Vegas for 6 months, move on to the higher paying positions elsewhere.
Another situation unique to Vegas - the casinos do drug tests. I once heard that half of the applicants for any one open position are disqualified by either their drug test or their background check. That is before they even go to the interview. I have heard stories that some of the free standing restaurants have an unusally high number of cooks that do drugs, because they have to work somewhere and those restaurants don't do the same tests.
Right now is a good time for cooks in Vegas, because the new Palazzo just opened and there is a shortage in certain areas (like at the place where I work).
If you do decide to come here, I would suggest sending your resume to the chefs of the restaurants you are interested in. You can apply through the websites as well, but some of the better positions never get advertised and are done by word of mouth only.
Good luck and I hope you enjoy Vegas!
post #4 of 34
As Clove stated, Vegas can be a great place to work, but it is quirky. For a large city, it has a very small town mentality. It truly is the who you know, not what you know type of place. That being said, there are lots of good paying jobs in this town. Most of the big strip properties are union, which has a whole host of issues too numerous to recount here. One thing that the big mega resorts are good for is the opportunity to work in a number of different food outlets. A motivated cook may evolve into a chef tournant position and work the buffet one week, the steakhouse the next, and banquets after that. Many of these hotels have upwards of 15 or 20 food outlets under one roof. Plus you can get the experience of cooking banquets for 5, 10 or even 15 thousand people. Off the strip, there are literally hundreds of "locals" casinos. Some are very small, and some are huge,(Station Casinos). Most of them have restaurants of some sort. Then you have the countless thousands of restaurants scattered through town. Every ethnicity, style and price point that you can imagine.

Just to add to what Clove said, not only do they drug test and background check here, but they check your credit score. Most places will not hire you if you have a credit score under 600. They figure that people with bad credit have money issues, and well, what is there a whole lot of in casinos. You guessed it, money.

The other thing to consider is that Las Vegas is the kind of town where you can get into a lot of trouble with little or no effort. Gambling, Drugs, Prostitution, crime, crime and more crime. This town is not for the faint of heart. Being that you are from NYC this should not be a problem. There is a lot more to tell, but send me a PM and I can give you more detailed information.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
post #5 of 34
Thread Starter 
Clove, Montelago thank you very much for you comments. I'm actually from downtown Baltimore so all the crazy $%^& is common place to me. I'm also interested in buying my first house and Vegas is affordable, esp. with the market we have today. I don't gamble, nadda.

I look at Criaglist a lot and many of the restaurants only ask for 1 year EXP, lol..... Sounds like they really need help.

I know that a line cook can make good money in Vegas, so thats good. Fortunatley I'm pretty much at the same scale, but I know I can learn a lot more. Baltimore chefs arent very forth coming teaching and developing talent.

Don't do drugs, and have a credit score above 600. I also see that you need a (health card). I guess the do a skin test for hepatitis, ect...

I like the Union backing, some chefs out here will fire guys for looking stupid. It's an East Coast thing A-Holes....

-- Anymore thoughts or comments, keep uhm coming!
post #6 of 34
yup true I work here in vegas, although Im pastry chef. got here in 93 worked of the strip for 6 months,when TI was offering jobs. went in a filled out the forms.and I was in. health benifits are better with the strip places. so good luck.summer time is the best ) I can't wait ....
post #7 of 34
Montelago - Where did you hear that about the credit check? I am just curious who is doing this. I did not have my credit checked for my current job, but perhaps other casinos on the strip have that requirement.

However, with the average score being aroung 670, it is hard to believe they can find 5,000 people above 600 just for one casino. Maybe they only have that requirement for positions that deal with cash? If you have more info...I am curious....
post #8 of 34
I know that the Hilton did, and my current place out at Lake Las Vegas. I know that they check for anyone dealing with cash. Dealers, servers, cage workers, bartenders, and all managers.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
post #9 of 34
Thread Starter 
Clove, what do you know about LCB, and UNLV. I'm looking at the two of them. From your prespective which one would recomend? I'm pretty dead set on going to culinary school, so it's pretty much about deciding which one is best for me.
post #10 of 34
I haven't been in Vegas too long and all but one of my coworkers went to school out of state. I have heard a few negative comments about one of the programs, but I don't know the details. I can ask at work tonight and see if I can find out anything else.

Here is an option, though it may not fit your needs. You might consider getting a culinary trainee position at one of the casinos. This is entry level and doesn't pay much. After you work there for a certain amount of time (usually a year) the casino will pay for your schooling. It would take longer to finish, but would save you a lot of money in the long run.
post #11 of 34
I asked at work last night about the local culinary programs in Vegas. One cook had gone to LCB and was happy enough with the program. I also was told that CCSN (community college) has a good culinary program for a much lower price.
I couldn't get any info on UNLV.
Good luck!
post #12 of 34
Thread Starter 
Clove, I really apperciate the feedback... I was also wondering how much the union fees were the Culinary Union in LV, anyone have a ball park figure? The perks are amazing free health insurance for family and spouse, 401K, Pension,e ct.... I will look intop the CCSN.

I want to work for a casino restaurant vs. banquets/buffets/wedding/conventions. Or does the casinos bounce you around to different areas as needed?
post #13 of 34
They will bounce you around as needed. This is a good thing though. This makes you that much more valuable to them. Plus, in my opinion it is very important to get the experience of banquets and buffets. These are aspects of the business that you run into everywhere. It helps teach you planning and organization on a much larger level.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
post #14 of 34
Actually, it depends on the casino. Some of the restaurants are independent, even though they are within the casinos, so you would be an employee of Bouchon (TKRG - Thomas Keller Restaurant Group) and not the Venetian and would be more likely to moved within TKRG (say, to Yountville or NYC).

When you apply for a job, you can apply for a specific job within the casino. If you want to work in a restaurant, you can and may eventually (after a year or so) be moved to another restaurant, but not likely to banquets or such, unless you request it. Things can move slow within a casino, so don't wait for an opening. They all have extensive online job postings, but the best positions get filled before they are posted to the public. I highly recommend being more proactive - contact the chef of the restaurant you are interested in, best yet, show up in person to drop off your resume (not during service, please) and ask to do a stage. Many chefs will not say no to a stage, even if they are not hiring. It can be a great way to talk to fellow cooks in the area and ask questions. If you make a good impression, they may point you in the direction of someone else that is hiring if they don't have any openings (my own chef has done something similar).

Not all casinos or restaurants in Vegas are union. Even if they are, you do not have to join to work there.

You do not always have to be a member of the union to get their health insurance (weird, I know).

Each hotel that is union, negotiates a seperate contract with the union (unless they are all owned by MGM, which is about half the strip casinos). Therefore, the dues probably differ.
post #15 of 34

Vegas information

Hey JoJo,

I am from Vegas and read the posts. I hope this information helps:

LCB Vegas: I looked into this school a number of times and was never impressed with it. I was even here for their open house when they first opened their doors. The facilities are pretty decent, but the administrators, admissions reps, etc. really misrepresent opportunities. I interviewed there on two different occassions--a couple of years apart. And both times I was told that upon graduating I could easily find a job as a saucier making $50,000 per year. I knew that was BS. Both interviewers mentioned "we just had a student not too long ago who just got hired down on the strip for $60,000. See...we offer great opportunities." When I asked who the chef was or where he was working, neither interviewer could remember the guy's name or where he works. They couldn't even remember when he attended LCB. Truth is, LCB stuffs their classes to between 20-30 students. This means the kitchens are crowded and/or not everyone will get a chance at cooking on a particular day. Chances are, if you visit the school, you will know more about cooking than the admissions reps.

College of Southern Nevada: This is where I am currently enrolled. I enrolled a couple of years AFTER my LCB experiences--so I am not just knocking LCB because I attend a competing school. At CSN, they limit class sizes to 15 students or less. The kitchens are large and fully equipped. There are many different sections for each class, so you can take classes pretty much whenever you need. AND you will NOT PAY $40,000+ Here, the chef instructors are well experienced and so far, each one I have met is truly concerned with your progress. This is definitely due, in part, to the smaller class sizes. Much more time for one-on-one attention. And here is the kicker...I started at CSN mostly because I could afford it and go on a part time basis. However, I have learned that CSN actually has an extremely respected program that has won many regional and national competitions and awards. In fact, from what I understand, CSN has won the state culinary school competition for the past number of years--i.e. it has beat out the much more expensive LCB and the Arts Institute of Las Vegas. And yes, the school does have its own working restaurant.

UNLV: For UNLV, if you take their hotel/hospitality management degree program, they will just send you to CSN for the culinary aspect of the degree. So you end up paying two different schools for one degree. I don't know what the reasoning is. I always assumed that UNLV had their own culinary program. But a large number of my classmates are enrolled at UNLV but were told that they must do their culinary classes at CSN. Yeah...they aren't too happy about that. :)

The job market in general is always in need of good people. Craigslist is just a small tip of the iceberg. Actually, many of the better restaurants in town do not advertise on Craigslist. There are actually a number of amazing restaurants off the strip too. So straight internet searching does not even come close to showing you all that is available.

So here is something that might interest you about the job market. there is a large project on the strip being built called "City Center." If you look it up, you will see just how massive this place is going to be. What our instructors were told, they are going to be needing THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of culinary workers just to meet their minimum needs. The opening of this place is not too far off, so get yourself to Vegas pronto LOL.

Now as for living in Vegas generally, like someone else said, it really does have a small town mentality even though it is such a large city. Connections really do make the difference. so the earlier you get here, the more connections you will have.

The housing market is finally back to affordable prices. There are many great deals on the market in nice neighborhoods. You should have no problem finding an affordable place. (let me know if you need a mortgage officer--I know some great people. SEE?! Connections! :D )

Traffic can be bad, but its likely NOTHING compared to what you likely deal with in Baltimore.

The summers are really not that bad. You usually go from A/C in your house, to A/C in your car, to A/C at your job. So don't even fret about that. No state income taxes is AWESOME! Um.....what else?

WOW! I just realized I wrote a novel. I better stop now. Send me an email or reply to the post if you have other questions. Good Luck!:bounce:
post #16 of 34
Thread Starter 
Stewey, your novel was GREAT. Thanks very much for your in depth response. I think Clove recomended that I look at CSN. Well I looked at their site and it looks like a good school. I have around 30 credits from Indiana State, and some CC credits. So..I should be able toget right in and do some culinary work.

My wife is about 65/35 with the whole idea, but I know I can sway her. I need a plan of action. It will be a big move if you know what I mean, lots of UHaul miles!

My goal is to find a place and put in 2-3 good years and hopefull get promoted. I have a solid resume, but Like you said it's all about connections.

I have been looking at the metro area, and it seems like the Summerlin Henderson areas would be more my taste. I like nice stuff but I dont need to be in a 300,000+ house development.

With that said, how long is a car ride from Henderson to the strip/DT area. Likewise, Summerlin, and other good ares?
post #17 of 34
Depending on which part of Summerlin and Henderson you are living, expect about 20 minutes with good traffic. During rush hours, it is of course longer.

VERY generally, the Las Vegas valley is a big square. The south east part of that square is Henderson/Green Valley. The West part of the valley is basically Summerlin. The southwest part of the valley is...well....the southwest.

All of these parts is about a 25 minute drive to downtown with normal traffic. So, maybe a little less to the strip. I have lived in both Henderson/Green Valley and the Southwest part of the valley. Both are great areas. The City of North Las Vegas is also not too far, but I am not sure how the traffic is from that part of the valley.
post #18 of 34
I’m in the same boat I moving to Vegas later on this year from California. Im 26 and have a baby on the way. Don’t have any formal exp. in cooking but I have a strong passion for it. I want to end up as a sous chef someday. I found a apprenticeship program (The Culinary Training Academy 710 West Lake Mead Blvd. North Las Vegas, Nevada 89031) to be a professional cook (most likely meaning line cook) has anybody have anything to say about their program I believe this is the same program that all the big hotels use for their apprenticeship programs like MGM... how much would I get paid after finishing ... do I have options with the big casino to have them pay for my school to a sous chef after being with them for a certain amount of time? Are there better options I can take to meet the same goal. Of course money is issue! Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!!!!:confused::confused::confused:
post #19 of 34
anybody with any advice for the above question?
post #20 of 34
I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar with their program. The big casinos have pros and cons. Since most of them are union jobs, it can be extremely difficult to advance. Many people get stuck in a position and don't move much after that. It is hard to learn in a place like that. The union jobs do pay well, and the benefits are very good. I would look into some of the non-union places like Venetian, Palazzo, Station casinos, and all of the other private restaurants in town. You are coming up on the hiring season, so I would start looking soon. One thing is for sure, there are jobs to be had here. There is always growth, new resorts opening and a need for cooks.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
post #21 of 34
Thread Starter 
don, let me know how your search goes. I'm looking to do the same!
post #22 of 34
I might get whacked off for this ...but Vegas is a right to work state...google it..you don't have to join the union to work there . I never did. casinos pay the health benifits to the unions and most people don't know that.
post #23 of 34
You don't have to join the union, but you still have to get a union referral, pay the union dues and work under the bargaining agreement. So basically, you have to join the union.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
post #24 of 34
Thread Starter 
I have a quick question. Do the casino's actually check all of your work history? I have some holes in my history. I have left a few places (restaurant tryouts that I didn't like) so it kind of looks bad.

I have also stayed at places for at least 1-2 good years. Looks like I have to stick out the job I have until I move. It sucks because the best way to learn is seeing and working hard in multiple kitchens after a year or two.

To be honest I guess I have lied about my resume history with some dates ect... I always though this was commonplace? I guess this crap wont fly in Vegas' casinos.

Also the part time flings, I'm assuming that they have to be recorded as well. I read some article stating that if you 10 year work history dosent match up with your app/resume the casino's will dismise you, and you wont be able to ever come back?
post #25 of 34
Like anything else, it depends on what level job you are applying for. As a line cook, not much of a worry there. If you are looking for a management job, they will certainly look more closely at your work history. I don't think that you have a whole lot to worry about as far as that goes. The best bet is to put an accurate job history on your applications. The restaurant industry is one of the most transient professions out there, so a few short stints here and there won't really affect you that much. Now, if it is clear by your resume that you are the king of the 6 month job, employers will be wary. Best to be honest about it though.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
post #26 of 34
What would you reccomend for people who want to learn as they work?
post #27 of 34
That is really hard to say. There are a lot of good restaurants in this town both in and out of the casinos. It is really a matter of researching and interviewing. Some places are all about production and some take a more hands on approach with their cooks. This is more up to the chef than anything else. I know some great chefs in this town that I would recommend working for, but beyond that it is really a tough kitchen. I would say a good place to start is to find the type of restaurant that you want to be in or learn in and start going from there. Talk to the chefs and ask them candidly how they feel about teaching on the job. Some have no time for it and some are very into molding and teaching inexperienced cooks.
It's Good To Be The King!
It's Good To Be The King!
post #28 of 34

Caught padding the resume....

JoJoBaltimore -
I thought of your question when I saw this news release today. It appears that the guy from "Dinner Impossible" on the food network has been fired because he padded his resume. So....just in case you ever get famous...
Padded Resume Costs Chef TV Show - Food News Story - WFSB Hartford
post #29 of 34
About.com: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:s.00370:
:cool:Clark County Nevada Labor you don't don't let anyone tell you you do..again when your asked to sign a card, just don't do it.
post #30 of 34
Thread Starter 
Is it pretty tough toget a stage at some of the higher end restaurants? I looking at about 10 spots, Bouchon, Aqua Knox, Picasso's, Mesa Grill, Bradley Ogden, Gay Savoy, Michael Mina, Guy Savoy, Oliives, L'Atelier, Joel Roubochon, Alex, Bouloud, well you guys catch my drift, some where very nice, and very complex.

For those of you guys who know about the LV "spin off" restaurants is there one that sticks out above the rest as far as development goes. Also, is there one of these spots where I shouldn't even waste my time trying to set up a stage?

I can get a long with anyone, the sous chef I working with right now is next to impossible to dance with and get a flow going when tickets start rolling through. I have thick skin these days. However, I want to try and find a spot where I can be an asset to a restaurant and develop the right way without a lot of BS, and no jerk off sous, and cooks. Hmmm that's asking to much, but I guess y-al know what I mean.

Right now I'm just trying to become a very good cook.

Thoughts? The yah and nah's, or red flags spots on the strip?
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