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May I some questions, Chef?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hi Guys, My name is Dave, i just graduated from College, got a journalism degree with me, but i always love to work with food, and want to be a chef, just now i m graduated, but is really hard for me to get a job in a good kitchen, so here is the question.

would u think a guy with a college degree will be over qualified to work in a professional kitchen as an apprentice?

cuz i found it kind of pathetic that the representative of a high-class chinese restaurant in Hong Kong said i might be over qualified cause i hv a degree n sounds like i wont be committed

so what do u guys think?
post #2 of 14
You scare them. They feel that to make you stay they will have to offer you a lot. Another factor is they could feel you lack experience. keep on pushing.
Give you an example: In New York to work in a bagel bakery you have to be in the union, and in order to be in the union, you have to work in a bagel bakery??????????
ONLY IN AMERICA:chef:
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post #3 of 14
the issues are : no kitchen experience, a college degree not related to food (although i suppose you could write about food). once again you need to sell the idea that you are not afraid of hard work and understand that you get to start at the bottom and say it with a smile:D especially over the phone.

also you need to think outside the box when thinking about restaurants. Do you know the name of the restaurant at Pebble Beach? how about any of the private country clubs? they usually have all kinds of jobs that can get you inline for the kitchen.

also look at large corporate headquarters. for example when I worked for Apple they had 3 different mini restaurants for the cafeteria. they did good cause noone wanted to leave the broadband wireless signal and driving anywhere to eat took too much time. betcha Sony headquarters has a pretty decent restaurant inside somewhere. you keep asking and plugging away and you'll get a job.
"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #4 of 14
thats horses*** man...half the guys i work with have college/university degrees and we're in one of the best kitchens in the city...all that should matter is that you have a passion for cooking and can handle extreme pressure....don't expect to start on the line right off the bat though...you could very well be started at prep or even dishwashing...it takes time to work your way up as in any profession
post #5 of 14
Agreed, the key is experience. It doesn't matter what sort of degree you've got, you've got to start at the bottom to get to the top. However, this doesn't mean a degree is a bad thing, I've found that educated cooks can be outstanding cooks and I have to admit that my education (probably combined with the years of tempering) have been useful in my career as a cook: I don't think I would be as successful in the industry if I had started out of high school... even if I would be chef by now.
"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
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"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
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post #6 of 14
Good answers, all. Quality answers from people in the business.

Try looking at it from a different perspective, though. What would a newspaper editor say to ME if I approached them with MY (cooking) resume?
I would imagine that they MIGHT give me a job as a gofer. I have almost no clerical abilities.

I believe that was the line of thinking in the response you got from that restaurant.

Hard to say what their definition of "over-qualified" is... It may have just been an excuse. Never worked in Hong Kong.

It's a different field, cooking. English majors, political economy majors, marine biology majors... worked with them all. Glad I left college after I got all those nasty "electives" out of the way lol.
post #7 of 14
I think the general perception is that someone who put in the effort to get a degree will ultimately be looking for work in that field, and therefore wouldn't be someone committed for an extended period.
Myself, I wouldn't mention that I'm an excellent cook if applying for a job as a long haul trucker.
You, with your degree and no experience in this field, are equal in the eyes of most with any other entry level person.
You may possibly looked upon as someone who has the ability to follow through (as your degree shows), but not everyone is going to acknowledge that.
So, no, you are not overqualified, you are just like everyone else.

I personally wouldn't give you a shot at this time, as I don't understand how one could work so hard to get their degree and then once obtaining it, decide they want to pursue a completely different field.
Me, I am completely overlooking the fact that you were able to follow through and get your degree, I am only seeing your seemingly nonchalant pursuit of a career.
I'm not saying this is how you are, I'm saying this is how I am perceiving you.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
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post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 
firstly i have to thank you guys for answering my question, very very very helpful,
of course i never ever see myself as "over-qualified" just because i have a degree, i know the experience is more important, but somehow the degree issue has been a barrier in hong kong, dont know is it the chinese cultural thing to feel shameful to work as a chef while u got a degree (most of the people in hong kong has a ****ed up mind, hate these guys...they only think white collar workers are human beings, the rest...just belittle them...),

currently i m working as a chinese pastry (dim sum) apprentice, the sad news is...it wont count as "kitchen experience"...makes feel down a little bit, cuz i m not fond to it, love eat not making tho...

this restaurant in hong kong is a michelin 1 star, i m applying for their apprentice, i dont care the money, i would work even for free until they think i worth the price,
besides i would get more if i work as a radio host (before i got back to food industry), or a journalist, so money is not an issue to me;

hard-work guy...hmmm i work more hours than the full-time does back in starbucks.
however i could not tell on the CV or resume right? gonna make my resume sounds... pathetic

passion for food? well i spend 90% of my time in bookstore just reading cookbooks, spend 2/3 my time thinking of food, love eating out while thinking of making it better

so if u guys are the responsible for a hiring a new no-experience guy for apprentice, would u consider me? hahaha

and one more thing chefs, how do i apply for a kitchen apprentice besides keep sending resume, should i just get into the restaurant and ask?

thanks again guys, is tough to get a job in a chinese kitchen as an apprentice in Hong Kong....but i'll keep trying
post #9 of 14
i hate to sound like a prick, but a college degree really isn't impressive at all, and I highly doubt it has anything to do with anything. at this point you're not over qualified to do anything. it's a matter of experience in combination with what you might be applying to/qualified for. just walk into a restaurant where you know the owner... (for example, do you or your parents frequent any places enough to know the owner, even if to say hello?) and ask for a job, and be clear you'll be willing to start at the bottom in order to get some experience. scrubbing potatoes isn't rocket science, doesn't require a degree, and your "application" doesn't have to go through any formal channels such as HR and their BS. But it is all part of paying dues. I suspect you could have a job by the weekend if you're truly committed to breaking into the industry at a pay and responsibility level commensurate with experience.
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I excel at sauteeing onions.
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post #10 of 14
sorry, didn't know this was pros only. but i do know a **** of a lot about being over or under qualified and when it matters.
I excel at sauteeing onions.
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I excel at sauteeing onions.
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post #11 of 14
just wanted to quickly chime back in... didn't mean to come down on your education. I'm sure you worked hard for it. It's a solid accomplishment. Was just saying, and my message was a bit skewed, that a college degree isn't what's holding you back. you've shown an ability to learn at a higher level and that's great. but there are a lot of educated people out there working really crappy jobs just to get a break.
I excel at sauteeing onions.
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I excel at sauteeing onions.
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post #12 of 14
I was born in HK and I certainly know the Chinese attitude towards a culinary career (sad that we have a wonderful food culture but we have less respect for it than say the Japanese or the French).

However, I found one part of your reply interesting:

Why do you not like making dim sum? Do you think other Chinese kitchen experience will be different? As a HKer I would give good money to learn the artistry involved and to hone my skills and knowledge.
"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
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"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
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post #13 of 14
Wow, I know so many chefs who have journalism degrees that I am seriously thinking about why this is so. Very interesting.

Well I have a university degree, its not journalism and not even remotely associated with the kitchen.

But it hasn't affected me getting into kitchens. I think the biggest thing is you have to show you are humble and modest despite the fact you have a degree as many people actually do see those with degrees as some sort of scholarly threat. Not everyone though. BUt if you are in this situation just show them that you are prepared to throw that away and start at the bottom, prove to them that you are not voer qualified and that working in a kitchen is what you want to do. I would even advocate asking to do a week's worth of trial run whre you are not paid, and then work your *** off. Keep to yourself, keep your head down and work.

Good luck tho bud
post #14 of 14
A degree would help in the US. I think any B.S. or B.A. program will teach you a lot of skills that translate into management ( and I have worked with Chefs that had Master's Degrees in other fields). But it won't make you qualified to be a line cook- only cooking skill will do that. In order to get a foot in the door you'll just have to be persistent. Once you do get in, experience & skill will come with time.

Good luck on your journey!
"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
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"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
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