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post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
(sorry for the essay)
Im an apprentice, and have been working in two kitchens for around 6 months and cant decide which to continue with;

the first is an italian restaurant: small and family run. theyve offered me a full time apprenticeship with the nearest college. working 6 days a week and the 7th at college with average pay and split shifts. the head chef cooks everything from scratch eg. joints his own meat, bakes his own bread, makes his own pate, prepares his own lobster, fish, pasta etc get the idea.

the second is a large catering firm with a larger brigade. a big kitchen for two restaurants. they also do outside catering jobs for hundreds to thousands of people and the oppurtunity to work in several other restaurants. they also cook good food but not everything is prepared from the bare ingredients . theyve offered more pay and training in house working only 5 days a week 9 - 5.(no night shifts)

after thinking about this for months i took the italian because i got told to, however the 2nd kitchen are desperately trying to keep me with bonuses etc. saying i have "the spark" and great potential.

so im looking for a chefs opinion thats neutral to give a prefessional view or where would be best for a career. i would great greaty appreciate some help on this for a decision by the end of the week. thanks.
post #2 of 13
What it comes down to are your goals for the future (i.e. what segment of the industry do you want to work in?). Whichever one you feel will equip you the best for reaching your goals is the one you should take.

A few questions: First, what is this "apprenticeship"? Is it ACF-affiliated? Second, what do you mean by "i got told to" take the job at the Italian place?
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
an apprenticeship is the British way of training teenagers with a trade. like plumbers, builders, carpenters etc . somewhere or someone will employ you and whilst working you gain a qualification. typically on very low pay. and it would be the U.K equivalent of ACF-affiliated.

anyone i spoke too (which was a lot) said "you'll learn more at the Italian place, go their to get the basics" or "if you don't go to the Italian place you wont learn to be a proper chef" admittedly none of these people had professional experience. my student careers adviser wasn't too helpful either.
post #4 of 13
first of all, i'm not a "chef" but i am #3 in charge, so take this for what its worth.

I would stick with the Italian place, if you want to be a restaurant chef (i.e. Ramsay, Bourdain, Emeril, Flay, etc.) it sounds like you will learn a lot more skills there, instead of quantity. in the end, it all depends on what you want to do. the pay will come, as will some time off. decide what you want from the job, and go in that direction.

best of luck!
Life's too short to eat bad food and drink bad wine.
Life's too short to eat bad food and drink bad wine.
post #5 of 13
i would stay with the italian place unless you want to be a caterer. /banquet chef. I think the experence would be good but noting beats learning how to everything from scratch. A couple years down the road maybe you can do the caterer part and learn the other part of the kitchen. There two different games and most have two different outlooks on things.
post #6 of 13
Catering is just scaling up quantities and figuring out logistics, you still have to learn to cook. I'd stick with the Italian place.
post #7 of 13
Agreed. I think we're all just idealists at heart though :)
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
post #8 of 13
I learned to cook on the job, not at school. My apprenticeship for commis was being shown how to pinch a knife, and for my promotion to saute/sauce I was sent outside with five pounds of beans and a skillet to learn to toss turn. I'd already demonstrated (a) I could tell the difference between "dover sole" and "lemon dabs" (which they were passing off as sole), and (b) could cook it meuniere (which I'd learned from a cookbook) and is how I got the promotion when the regular man showed up drunker than usual. Otherwise it was getting yelled at in two languages I don't speak -- but I'm pretty sure it was profane.

The point is, you have to identify your next career goal. If you want to learn to cook as quickly as possible so as to have a lot of responsibility in a small place, the Italian place is ideal. On the other hand, if the larger restaurants/catering firm will be sufficient reference to take you to your next position (where you'll learn what you need to know then), it's a much better job.

IMO everyone else is into the romance of the smaller kitchen. But this is seldom a glamorous craft. There's really nothing special about 7 days a week at low pay -- except you don't have time to spend it. But it's only a few more months, really; and you'll have the opportunity to absorb some mad skillz at the little restaurant. If I didn't think the caterers would prevent me from taking the next step up the ladder, I'd work there. If your goal is "fine dining," and the Italian restaurant will get you there, it's worth the sacrifice.

post #9 of 13
me personally....stay with the smaller of the two. If you can not do the basics from scratch..then how will you manage to do things on a larger scale.

Plus money isn't everything unless your 37 and need to make

Restaurant work is by far more rewarding and harder than catering..espically with a large brigade...:smoking:
post #10 of 13
If I were you, I think I will stick for the small Italian restaurant at the very beginning...


Like you'd mentioned above, you need to learn and cook everything from the scratch. Well, I admitted that this will be a tiresome and boring work, but those you can gain much more precious experiences here.
post #11 of 13
Take what ever one one gives you the most enjoyment. The one you look most forward to going to work everyday.We work long hours and often.It is important to enjoy it, do not suffer in this bussiness like so many do. Be clear in what you want to do with yourself, and do what ever makes you happy.

One key rule I live by in all aspects of my life is BEING CLEAR in what it is I want, not what other people think I should do.
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
When I stop loving what I do, I will do something else: Clint Eastwood http://NewDreamCatering.comCharleston, SC
post #12 of 13
A good rule when starting out is to chase the experience, not the money.
If you gain the experience now, the money will be there later.
If you chase the money, which usually translates into pursuing higher and higher positions, you could find yourself near the top with no foundation.
It's difficult to take a step backwards in this profession.
You tell someone that you were an exec or sous, they probably won't hire you for line.
Too afraid you'd be out to replace them.

That being said, the second job isn't devoid of experience, it's just of a different nature.
I've worked with talented individuals who could cook their butts off, but couldn't run a kitchen, couldn't motivate anyone.
I've also worked with those that may have been lacking in some areas of culinary expertise, but who always had a crew who would rally around them and pull off spectacular feats in the kitchen.
They were also smart enough to hire people with skills in the areas they were lacking.
(Some Chef's think they have to be the best in every area, but I think it's the smart individual who realizes their weaknesses, and takes whatever measures necessary to compensate for them.)
So learning how to operate on a large scale is good experience, and not as easy as just "multiply recipe by 100".

It's up to you, but if it were me, I'd go with the first job.
Unless you're strapped financially, endure the lower pay while you gain this valuable knowledge.

Let us know how it goes.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the advice, seems pretty conclusive too = big fish little pond.
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