or Connect
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › Need Advice on First Line Cook job
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Need Advice on First Line Cook job

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
I recently got a job as line cook at this relatively new small bar/restaurant. Its technically not my first line cook job as I have been working for awhile as an on-call line/catering cook but its my first consistent job in the kitchen. The restaurant is generally not too busy and at most they probably do anywhere from 150-200 covers on a busy night. Its a small kitchen with a 6 burner stove and a small pantry. The menu is small but its pretty diverse.

I've been working there for the past 2 weeks and my chef has been teaching me both of the pantry and saute stations but its been rather tough for me. I find myself thinking way too much and putting myself in a jam when the place gets slammed. I went to the place doubting and forgetting everything I know, so i could absorb as much i can from the chef. I've learned a lot but at same time its cause me to be more timid and not my aggressive self. I find myself over thinking way too much and worrying too much about how I'm doing. A lot of it comes from the fact its took me almost 7 months of searching to land this job and so I've been pressing hard. I've noticed as well my chef has started to get impatient with me as he feels i should be further along with my progress.I really want to do well and so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 11
Best advice is hang in there.
There's a magical corner you turn when you go from apprehensive to being sure of yourself.
There's no set time frame for that passage, it's individual, both to the person and the kitchen.
You can't really "forget everything you know", but you can put it on the back burner.

The fact that you are concerned is a good sign, as it shows you care.
Keep plugging along, try not to experience too much angst during the shift, assess the day after your off, and come back for the next shift just a bit better than the previous one.
Your Chef may be thinking you should be further along, or you may just be sensitive.
Does the Chef still give you shifts?
That's all you need from him/her, keep applying yourself.
Again, hang in there.
It should all click shortly.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Reply
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
Reply
post #3 of 11
one of my cooks is doing the same thing, and as i do get frustrated with him because I have to tell him te same thing over and over again. But he's been doing a lot better because I have him working the way I work when I'm not expoding and I'm runnin the window...now I hope this is your problem...

when you're in a rush, take it a ticket at a time. look at your first ticket make sure you have everything working on it, then slide it over so you leave a gap between the ticket you're working and the others. Then, look at the next ticket. Start working everything on that. Keep that up, making sure you have everything working on every ticket (how ever many you can handle comfortably) then when you sling a ticket out work on one thats been waiting to go.

hopefully that advice will help if that's one of your problems... another thing is and I dont know how your kitchen works or what help you have in it at the time, but don't be afraid to ask for help. Dont try to be a hero in other words. If your tickets are taking time ask for help, instead of trying to do it all yourself trying to impress someone because that hurts the customer more than it beats you up, and they're the main reason we're doing this.

All in all my friend it takes time to catch the rhythm of a new kitchen and learn every aspect of the menu and the quickest way to go about creating the dish, which you WILL find one day. just take it a day at the time and do the best job you can while doing it. that's all anyone wants from you.


best of luck man
post #4 of 11
These guys pretty much covered a lot of it. If I'm learning something the chef, I'd write it down. Have a notepad on you at all times, write things down that you think you won't be able to remember instantly again.
Go home and go through your' notepad and assess your' shift, what you did wrong, what you could have done better and how. If you don't know how, then ask!
It may seem like an incompetent thing to ask, even about the simplest of things, but it's not, just DO IT! How else will you learn, right? If my chef wanted a buerre blanc for the special and I haven't made one in the past 6 years, then I'll ask how! (just an example:smiles:)

Make sure your' chef knows that. But if you really are trying hard and showing up everyday with a positive attitude, then he should know that all ready.
But if you are worried (I am a worrier as well:rolleyes:) then just pull your chef off the line, or after your shift have a solid talk with him. Let him know that you're trying your best and you want to succeed. He will want to help you succeed.

If there is too much information being thrown at you and you can not absorb it all and it causes you to forget everything else and it changes your attitude, you should probably let him know that as well. Maybe just tell him to explain things in a way that you understand each step and by the end of the explanation you didn't get lost at any point ... And write stuff down!!! It helps..

Good Luck!!
post #5 of 11
This may seem sesame streetish but if you take a sheet of paper write divide it in two
then on one side at top of page write precedures you know well and on the other write down the procedures you don't know well. The procedures you don't know well can be broken down to simple steps and gives you a chance to wrap your mind around them.
If you are having differculty with the order of procedures do a flow chart which is a chart written out to shows the stages of a product. Once you locate your differculties and simplify them you should be able to pick up your speed. You got the hardest part done ' showing up the rest can be learned.
post #6 of 11
I think a lot of us were in your shoes at one point or another. I know I was. Patience is the key. I was fortunate when I first started off to have great Chefs encouraging me rather than discouraging me. Whether or not your Chef encourages you all you need are the work hours to prove yourself to him/her. You will get better through repetition. You will find little tricks here and there to speed things up or do things better. Making mistakes is one thing but the biggest mistake you don't want to make is having someone question your work ethic. If you go in with a positive attitude like you are showing right now that you want to get better then you will get better.
post #7 of 11
I could give you some advice maybe if you were more specific about the type of problems you're having. I have one cook who's a compulsive/whatever it it is (can't think of the term just now). Has to have everything in it's exact place, etc. This is a plus most of the time, but it keeps him from reacting quickly if something goes wrong. For instance, someone forgot to order a pan fried walleye for an order that was about to go out. We had one almost ready for another order so I told him to use the one he had on and fire another one for the other order. He argued that he needed the done one for the following order. I finallly had to snap at him to get it through his head that any way he looked at it, he needed two walleyes and to stop arguing and just fire another one. That's my pet peeve lately. I tell them they're missing something or they have the wrong thing and they have to see the ticket to make sure I'm right about it before they react, which wastes time. Don't know if this is the kind of thing that happens to you, but if your chef tells you to do something, just do it without question. Only handle the number of tickets that you can. Someone else gave you that advice, and it's important. I've seen people try to work a whole board at a time and have nothing but a mess because they can't get the whole order together so they have parts of three or four orders up at a time, but not a complete one. That's just confusing for everyone. And remember, you only have two hands. You can only do what you can do and no one can change that. Nothing makes me madder than someone yelling at me to hurry up when I'm already doing all I can. My response to that is "Yeah, I'll get it as soon as I'm done with this hand of cards." Geez... I find I have a much smoother running kitchen when I calm the crew down in a rush. I wouldn't dream of hollering like they do on T.V. All that does is make everybody nervous and that's when accidents happen or food gets wrecked. If you can tell us more about specific problems you are having, people here can give you good advice for working through it as we've all been in your shoes at one time or another.
post #8 of 11
LOL @ the game of cards comment! I will have to remember that for when the servers are hounding us for their stuff and well... we can't send it out raw!

I agree with the only take on the number of tickets you can manage statement. The tickets aren't going anywhere if you take two minutes to clear what you're working on before you start on the next group of tickets. We have a 12 minute turnaround in our place that's chain standard so while we do have a window to get things out, it's easy to get overwhelmed by that, especially on certain stations. And add in a hard boiled 10 minute egg or a well done steak for a steak and eggs and well.. we're not going to make the fast chit times on those orders.

Staying calm is the way to go even when the sh!t is hitting the fan bigtime and you have orders coming out of every nook and cranny possible. Calm line cooks are the most productive line cooks and any good Chef knows that and strives for that in their kitchen.

Hang in there and please keep us posted as to how you're doing.
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
Reply
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
Reply
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the advice and it actually helped me quite a lot. Unfortunately I was fired after 3 1/2 weeks. I actually felt a tremendous amount of progress especially during my last week but I noticed I was doomed after 2nd week when my schedule was cut in half and I never really saw or heard from the chef again until he txtd me to let me know I was fired. He had explained me through text that he expected me to be further along and felt that I wouldn't be able to get the training or experience I needed unless I worked in a bigger kitchen. I was disappointed but also pissed off because he would tell me how he prefers people up front about stuff and then proceeded to fire me through text. Whatever I was glad to have had the experience since it was first non on-call job I've had in the 6 1/2 months I've been searching.

My main problems was managing orders and space in a rush. I would quickly get confused and slow down way too much. Like for example say I got 8 orders one check.. 4 protein with reduction sauces, 2 steaks and starch sides, and 2 vegetrian entrees followed by 4 checks with 2-4 orders. I had that happen to me a couple things were coming out as pretty as want them too the first time and the 2nd time I was too slow. Granted I was working a single 6 burner with 4 only working and a single oven with no broiler but I saw my chef deal with it pretty well. Do you guys have any general strategies when theres an unexpected rush and is there anything I could practice at home?
post #10 of 11
There's not much substitute for experience. Get a bit more time on the line and it'll come. Overall you're lucky to be out- anyone who'd fire you via text message isn't someone I could respect enough to work for.
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #11 of 11
Chalk it up to experience. IMO you already took the first big step and that's using your noodle. Thinking about how you need to improve and being aware of the fact that you need to gain experience is a big first step.
I will echo what Phaedrus said. Letting some one go by text is lame.
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Professional Food Service › Professional Chefs › Need Advice on First Line Cook job