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Question about jobs after School

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Hey, thank you for taking the time to check out my post.

I'm 26 years old, American and a current student at the Culinary School of the Rockies. I'm going through the culinary arts program, and am roughly 4 months from finishing it. Included in my program is a "stage" at a fine dining establishment, which in my case only lasts for 7 days (9 days at their own discretion). I have little restaurant experience.

So here is my question ... I'm an ex US-Marine (I lived aboard a Naval ship for 4 months), I know what life at sea is like (especially for long hours). I'm looking for work that will allow me to travel (but most of all allow me to increase my knowledge of cookery). So basically what I am asking here.. is from 'entry level' people on cruise ships/resorts to share their own experiences.

If (in your opinion) working in such an environment is a waste of time, I'd like to hear that too... the Head Chef at my School was extremely apprehensive about anyone even considering working on a cruise ship or at a resort (because people from 3rd world countries often will do the same for cheaper).

Honestly, My ultimate goal is to live/work in Europe.

I appreciate your consideration.
post #2 of 5
The $ per hour rate can be very low compared to what some land based culinary people make but there is another perspective to look at when making the comparison between land based pay and shipboard pay. Shipboard you room, meals, utilities(for the most part) are provided. You have no need for a car and all the associated costs of having a car. All in all it can be a low cost living and the money you do make is mostly discretionary money. Of course if there any school loans to paid that will cut into your paycheck. If your schooling was covered by the GI bill then you could be in pretty good shape.

Hours may vary but it seems that 50 to 70 hours per week is common. The schedule is most likely seven days a week for the length of your contract. You then get 4 to 6 weeks off depending on the specifics of the contract.

Most all cruise ships are foreign flagged which means they are not subject to the same pay/labor laws as the USA. From what I hear, which means do your own investigating:), foreign flagged ships pay a flat monthly amount which would make most Americans and Canadians cringe.

From what I hear also there are land based resorts that offer similar room, board and utilities packages as the cruise lines do.

For a little perspective although dated; I worked with a guy at a port in Saudi Arabia during the 1990 gulf war. He made $6 US per 12 hour day. He was living OK in Saudi on $3 of that and sending the rest back home to his family for support and savings. There were others that worked in field kitchens the made $2 US for a 16 hour day and they were doing the same thing. While prices have more than likely gone up you will be in a market in which many of the people are willing to work for $20 US per 10 or 12 hour day.
post #3 of 5
the thing about cruise ships is that if its horrible you pretty much have to deal with it. you are at sea and the captin is in charge. they really didnt advise students to work on cruse ships right out of school since some of the conditions are pretty harsh.

check out some resorts if you looking for some great experce with different background. im sure there are some that are bad but there are good ones out there too that will give you great experences.
if you looking to travel look into corperate marriots. alot of them you can transfer loacations after 6 months and still hold the same postion in to company as long as theres a postion available.
post #4 of 5
Many moons ago (back in 1972), I worked for Rockefeller Resorts, which at that time ran the Grand Teton Lodge Co., but also had resorts in other nice places like St. Thomas...
Some of the staff would work summers in Wyoming, and spend their winters in the company's tropical resorts down in the Caribbean.

The pay was very low ($1.75 per hour back then), but your dorm room and food were provided, as were uniforms...

Would I do it again at 20 years old?? You betcha!!! Lotsa "interesting" people, including multitudes of college aged kids just working some place "different" for a season or two.

I'm sure that things have changed a bit in the past 36 years, but you may wish to look into a larger "seasonal" operation...
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
I might be suffering from CDO.
It is just like OCD, except the letters are in alphabetical order.
Just as they should be...
post #5 of 5

Jobs after school

Greetings Apicius;
What I'm going to tell you is just my opinion for whatever it is worth.

I have spent 35 years in the kitchen from prep work, to running a kitchen that served 120 tables. Currently I am doing private work as well as catering, so I have seen a lot. To coin the phrase, been there-done that.

Your instructor is telling you right, cruise ship work and much resort work, you will find is seeking low pay workers. Your expenses may be smaller than living at home on land of here in the U.S., but you will work long hard hours, for very little pay & appreciation.

I noticed that you mention that you want to work in Europe, be prepared, so do thousands of others in the food industry.

If It were me at 26 years of age, just coming out of school, this is what I would do:

Find a restaurant with the cuisine that you want to master. This can be a full service restaurant or even a hotel with many different dining facilities. A suggestion would be to check out Las Vegas, and to also check out some of the larger hotel chains such as Marriott & Hilton.

Putting in a year or two can be very rewarding, and it will allow you the time to learn from some of the mistakes that you will make along the way.
Look at it as an apprenticeship to fine tune what you have been taught in cullinary school. You will find that a lot of things are done different to what you have been taught and while the knowledge that you have been taught is very important, you are going to learn a lot more out in the industry.

After that time, you will have a true feel for what you want to do, and where you want to go from there. You may find that you like working in a hotel kitchen, or you may like the restraurant or bistro environment, but you will have gained a lot of first hand experience and have lost absolutely nothing.

If you work for a full service restaurant, I would like to suggest that you learn everything you can about the day to day operations of the restaurant. Obtaining this knowledge is important for you to understand what is required of you in the kitchen. It is also helpful and important to know if you decide to open your own place down the road.

You will find that many European restaurants are not interested in training someone. They would rather you came to them with experience and knowledge that can be beneficial to their establishment, so learn everything you can and ask all the questions you can. Asking a question does not mean that you don't get it, it means that you are dedicated to learning, and I do not know any teacher that will ever hold that against you. The thirst for knowledge is like a fine wine, it gets better with age.lol

I tend to babble as I get older, so I will not take up too much more of the boards time, but if I can ever be of help to you, just give me a shout. I may not know all there is to know out there, but I have years of experience that you are free to call upon anytime it may help.

All the Best
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