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What do YOU like about working in a restaurant?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hello everyone, my name is Robert Scott and I am new to the forum. :roll::roll:I am thinking about going to culinary school and am trying to weigh out the pros and cons of working in a restaurant. So, if u have a minute please post and let me know your pros and cons. What you like and don't like. Thanks alot for your time! Robert:smoking:
post #2 of 9
Hello, Robert. I have worked at several restaurants in two different capacities - production, where I am in the kitchen before the restaurant opens for service, spending my day making all of the components needed for dinner service. Then I have worked service plating the food as orders come in. The two jobs have quite a different feel to them and I would be hard pressed to say which I prefer. I have found my experience from both to be invaluable.
Working in production is a great way to get all of the basic skills down and to gather from different restaurants a catalog of great recipes. I do work in pastry, but I am going to assume the same applies to all aspects of the kitchen.
When I worked service in a Michelin starred restaurant, I would say there is a certain energy in the kitchen when you are getting ready for service. When the cooks show up on a Saturday night and we are told that the restaurant is fully booked, everyone knows absolutely that we have to be focused to pull off such a busy night and still maintain excellent food and service. There is no way you can be competitive at that level without a great deal of teamwork. If one station is getting buried, it is up to everyone else to step in and help, so that the whole operation doesn't get into the weeds.
Even if some of the tasks are simple, every aspect has to be just right and when it is busy, if you lose focus for just a moment and are so caught up in completing one ticket to the next, you lose sight of the big picture and can be caught unaware by running out of an item or something else that could have been prevented.
Working in a restaurant can be great to increase your speed and efficiency, but some people do not enjoy the pressure. Unlike other jobs I have had, you are working in very close proximity with others and personality issues can be magnified. Chefs aren't always (or often) fair. They can play favorites or hire people that can't hold their own on a busy night. You can't easily take a break when things are busy and the hours can be very tough on your social life unless all of your friends happen to be in the business, too. There isn't much job security and sometimes getting ahead can be as simple as being in the right place at the right time.
Good luck on whatever you choose to do.
post #3 of 9


Edited by LBGChris - 5/1/14 at 11:40am
post #4 of 9
Jelly great insight, I share a lot of your passions. When it comes down to it there's nothing like the energy of a kitchen... You sort of become an addict of stress at least I do.

Having a beer at 1:oo am with your fellow cooks after doing 300-500 covers on a sat night at a super high level is a freaking amazing feeling. :beer:

Going from completly F'ing off to complete utter perfection is also great to experince.

The worst thing about being in a kitchen is job security. You can be amazing cook and the next thing you know your head chef gets canned, a new chef arrives and he brings in a new staff and a new sous chef and you are out the door before you can prove yourself. Well not really, but thats what it feels like some times.... Be ready toget pushed mentally and physically every day if you work in an elite michelin restaurant.
I love to fabricate meats, fish etc... prep for service and then see all of that work reach the plate...

Making people happy is what its all about. Weddings, birthdays, dates, the guy at table #6 that is about to propose to his girl. I/You just want to make these people happy, and serve them great food.

There's nothing more gratifying for a chef than to have a "no nothing" novice intern /prep cook /dishwasher groomed into a Chef De Cuisine.. Its great for chef's ego to see these types of people rise to the top. Hopefully you will get a chef that will take the time to teach, because a lot of time you are expected to know what you are doing.

Word of advice, Find a good restaurant with a good rep, if you dont get a good vibe from the place DO NOT WORK THERE.
post #5 of 9
The daily challanges., The crazyness, Looking out kitchen door and after knocking out 400 or 500 seeing the people happy and smiling. Havingthe wait staff come back to kitchen and saying ''they loved it guys''. Knowing that my crew and myself did our best and made it possible.
post #6 of 9
In addition what the others have said:

the constant striving to do better, faster, neater, faster, better, faster, better, faster -- all while turning out a consistent product (not changing the menu every day still gives you a chance to compete against yourself!)

the constant learning -- about product, techniques, seasoning, etc. etc.

being given the chance to train others in the ways my chef wanted things, and then too in the ways I wanted them

being given the responsibility for creating parts of the menu, and for codifying them so that that's how they would always be

the adrenalin rush and being in the zone when the orders just kept coming (yeah, that's been said, but it's a drug I miss to this day)

slackers who wouldn't clean and restock the station before leaving, so that I had to do that in addition to my own prep

unscrupulous owners who stiffed the staff (including the chef!) and their suppliers

the situation when other cooks on the line refused to coordinate getting orders into the window (only happened in one place, thank goodness)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #7 of 9
Cooking certainly wasn't my first job, so I would have to say the first awesome thing that sprngs to mind is the working environment. There aren't many like a professional kitchn. You can totally be yourself and don't have to fake anything to please your overlords. In fact if you try to fake it you will probably get called out on it. I love the smack talk that goes down and I love delivering a good zinger when someone thinks theyve burned me bad. (verbally) I love the fact that you acquire a skill set that can easily be utilized in something you do for yourself and others everyday outside of work. I love that the fruits of your labors bring results you can actually see people enjoying. I love the fact that all of your senses are engaged in what you do.

All of these just to name a few.

There are not many bad things, but I will admit I didn't get to see much of my friends, as they are 9-5ers and a weekend day off is rare. You get used to all that though and I find it makes the time I spend with them that much more enjoyable. Also you will encounter some real idiotsticks, but I mean I'm sure you're bound to bump into a few no matter what your profession is.

I don't regret my decision at all.

Best of luck no matter what you decide!
post #8 of 9
I find it fun and I like learning new things and finally mastering a dish or a technique. I love being shown how to do something and then being told to do it and getting a "way to go" by the Chef or Sous. I like being so busy that time flies by. I like the hard work too.

Things I don't like is when my body hurts or when I'm trying to sleep and all I can think of is food instead of sleep and mostly I don't like days when the Chef gets moody or has been drinking and gets nasty with everyone. He's a good guy most of the time but when he's been drinking he turns into a different person.
post #9 of 9
good question...
well, it's just like any other job where it's not for everybody.
I've tried a lot...receptionist, dog groomer, box mover, retail, ...etc
i don't like anything else, and quite frankly I can't handle anything else...even those all the aforementioned jobs are definitely easier in a lot of respects
and that might be part of the allure of working in a restaurant...very hard work and a constant challenge.
I suppose what I enjoy most about being a cook, and working in a restaurant in general tho...is the fast, youthful lifestyle it provides.
I like having the second shift (afternoon to late night)...i don't care about working on weekends and holidays being that's when everybody else is off and I can't stand being off on the days others are. I like the fun atmosphere that is always going on, i like pleasing people with food, and even tho it's high pressure, strict and requires such constant hard work..in a lot of respects it's actually a very laid back job that allows you to be creative and passionate.
I like the wealth of opportunity that is provided too, since it is such hard work in most cases and is not for many people....advancement is yours for the taking if you want it.

You'll most likely never be a millionaire being a restaurant worker but if you don't have a family the perks are endless...a lot of free food, travel options (there are restaurants to cook in everywhere and anywhere in the nation and world)...opportunity for creative, leadership...

Ultimately you're gonna have to decide if it's right for you or not...only you can answer that question but just as somebody else may be passionate about drafting, firefighting, corporate america...etc...that's just how i feel about cooking
The best way to find out is to try it out...get a job at a restaurant for at least half a year and see how u like it.
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