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I'm considering restaurant work and I have a question . . .

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I wasn't sure where I should post this, but anyway here goes.

I've been laid off from my job and I'll be looking for work in a few fields that I have experience in: HVAC service, high-tech manufacturing, data analysis, and restaurant work.

My question here is about restaurant work. I've worked as a line cook and a prep cook, but without any formal culinary education.

One thing I have realized, though, is that I'm good at making pasta from scratch. In particular, the noodles I make using just semolina and water, I (and all others who have tasted them) consider to be really good. I've really got a feel for
making them, and a lot of experience.

I realize that you can't take my word for the quality of what I make, but let's just suppose, hypothetically, they are as good as any fresh pasta you can buy in the store. I mean plain or flavored pasta--I haven't done much in the way of ravioli or such things.

Do you have any suggestions for me as far as what kind of restaurants to try for, how to show what I can do, and anything else? Or perhaps a slightly different direction I could go with this? I appreciate any suggestions. Also, I don't mind blunt answers from pros.
post #2 of 17
This is kind of off-the-wall, but: Are there enough restaurants within reasonable traveling distance that might want an circuit-riding pasta maker? Not necessarily only Italian -- French could use good noodles, too, as well as American. You could spend maybe a half-day at each once or twice a week, making pasta sheets for them and training the prep staff how to cut them. They buy the flour and any equipment, you go work your magic. Or maybe you bring your pasta roller/rolling pin with you.

Now the only question is how to charge for your services. It has to be cost-effective for them, and you have to make enough to make a profit on your time. Hmmm. Have to think about that one. But you'd have to have that worked out before you start talking to chefs and bringing them samples.

This, rather than actually working full-time in a restaurant, because you'd have to spend so much of your time doing other things. Besides, places might not want to hire you outright just for that skill in these iffy times when they may have to let people go. If you can supply a skill without the full-time costs, you may have a leg up.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank You, Suzanne, that's got some gears going in my brain . . .
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
If I could start my own lunch place or whatever, I know I'd be able to keep a lot of people's taste buds happy. I've thought for a long time that if I ever wanted to make a food biz, noodles would be the center of it. I think the menu part would not be hard. I can do all that, make a variety of original dishes that people would love. I'd probably have it vegetarian.

The business side would be the challenge--and isn't that always the case? :D But at least I realize that.
post #5 of 17
In the current economy, I can think of few businesses I would like to be starting less than a restaurant of my own. The failure rate was astronomical when everyone had money; now they're going to save money and eat at home, so it's going to be worse.

I like Suzanne's idea. Another possibility is to see whether there is a high-production Italian place that could use an extra hand with pasta. Olive Garden, for example, or a place like that: the ones that do use fresh pasta go through a fabulous quantity, and another hand for the rolling that doesn't have to be trained much could be a godsend.

The one thing is, remember that you won't get things like healthcare and so on: perks are going to be minimal. I say treat this as something to keep you busy and making money while you keep your feelers out for something more stable... which might be the restaurant business, of course, but quite possibly not.
post #6 of 17
If you're thinking of starting a business, why not combine the best of both worlds and start a hand-made pasta business? Depending on your production ability, you could sell to restuarants, local markets, and direct to the public.

You'll want to check the legalities and regulations, of course. But going this route lets you start small, without a big investment, and then grow as the business does.
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 17
This is how I would start. Farmers markets are great and full of people who don't mind paying a little extra for a home made product. Over here in the UK farmers markets have been taking off in a big way recently as people are becoming more aware of the slow food movement and insisting on local products. And not before time either!
post #8 of 17
Olive Garden uses fresh made pasta?
post #9 of 17
I'd be very very surprised if they did, fresh meaning made on site.

They might have it brought in from a place that makes fresh pasta.

I knew a guy who worked at Olive Garden, and he never mentioned that, plus with the volume they do, seem like it might be hard to do on site there.

Also they are very strict about their portions, each portion of pasta is weighed out, and for the all you can eat specials, the secondary portions are weighed out as well.

Therefore, from a business stand point, I'd think they know they are receiving x pounds of pasta every day, and that their will be no/little waste. It seems like it would be easier to control the waste if it was brought in better, than making it from scrtach, even though I know flour isn't very expensive.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the input. it's appreciated :D
post #11 of 17
Best of luck to you in whatever you decide. After reading all the responses, I'm digging the handmade "gourmet" pasta at the farmers' market angle. Please keep us posted.
Jenni
Pastry Chef Online
Pastry Methods and Techniques
We're all home cooks when we're cooking at home.
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Jenni
Pastry Chef Online
Pastry Methods and Techniques
We're all home cooks when we're cooking at home.
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post #12 of 17
A guy in one of my classes has worked as a cook ... [cough] re-heater at Olive Garden for a few years and said the noodles come in a bag, frozen ... and the sauces. Basically everything!

This came up cause there were two times at OG where I found a little piece of a plastic bag in my pasta. I have been there a lot ;) My GF loves their alfredo ... me to, but I can make it like theirs at home, so...

We were actually talking about this last week in class.
"To be a good chef all you got to do is lots of little things well" -Marco Pierre

"As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit." -Fernand Point
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"To be a good chef all you got to do is lots of little things well" -Marco Pierre

"As far as cuisine is concerned, one must read everything, see everything, hear everything, try everything, observe everything, in order to retain in the end, just a little bit." -Fernand Point
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post #13 of 17

Off topic Olive Garden Content

Not to hijack the thread to Olive Garden, but in their early years of the chain, they had pasta machines visible in the lobby and you could watch them extrude/roll various pastas for the dishes while you waited for your table.

At least the ones in my area did. They've been gone for some years now.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #14 of 17
For being frozen, I'd say thats pretty good quality.
post #15 of 17
Thread Starter 
That's where my thinking is going at the moment. I started looking up local laws and thinking about renting space somewhere to set up my "kitchen".
post #16 of 17
Seriously, best of luck! I hate to hear that you were laid off, but it certainly sounds like you're covering all your bases. I'm sure you will land on your feet as the founder of PastaYeti :chef:
Jenni
Pastry Chef Online
Pastry Methods and Techniques
We're all home cooks when we're cooking at home.
Reply
Jenni
Pastry Chef Online
Pastry Methods and Techniques
We're all home cooks when we're cooking at home.
Reply
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Thank you!:D
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