New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Sous Chef or Not

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My first of many questions needs a bit of background. I have worked in a kitchen for about 1.5 years and waitress-ed for about a year before for that with some time in between to have a baby. Love the kitchen way better than anything I have ever done.

Currently my work schedule has gone from 4 + days a week to maybe 2 days a week if I am lucky. I love the food we make. the restaurant is in a basement in a resort town off of the "restaurant row". You have too look for us to find us then be willing to walk downstairs to a windowless room. I am frustrated at the lack of work and am trying to find the wherewithal to go look for a new place, because I can't afford not working. Other restaurants and chefs love the food and know the chef. When other people in the industry stop by he introduces me as his Sous Chef. I feel that is a tall order to fill as I have only been in the industry for a little of 2 years with minimal experience. I am trained in making almost everything but some of the sauces. When he goes out of town to procure some of our specialty ingredients I am left alone in the kitchen. This has happened twice, plus some days off he took for the first time in years last summer. I enjoy it and some people even say I do better when he is not arround.

So what do I put on my resume? I need work but am really torn and scared about leaving. My husband literally dragged me in to the restaurant kitchen when our son was 8 months old. I have been thinking about becoming a chef for eons, but knew that it was hard work long hours and ... I thought my husband would not tolerate a kitchen schedule very well so I didn't attempt to pursue it. I value family and friends. Now I am in it and don't know how to take the next or what the next step is. I love working in the kitchen but do not know how or if it possible to balance home, work, and motherhood. Is there anyway to help the Chef get his restaurant more on the map? How and Can I make the restaurant more competitive, is it my responsibility? Is it possible to give this type of help without offending? I want the restaurant to succeed so I can work at this place. I personally think the cuisine is amazing and that we just need customers. We were on our way up till the economy crashed and some town lunatic tried to bomb the town on New Years.

I don't even know what to expect for pay when I go looking and I have a feeling I may be paid quite well. When I have looked everyone is in the same boat - not enough customers. Do I go to culinary school? Why does the chef say that I don't need to? Arghh

Thanks,:confused:
post #2 of 12
so i was recently in a very similar situation. i was working in my first fine food place for about 11 months now. when i started on dish and prep on the condition that the chef would teach me what he knew. i ended up taking every next available position all the way to "sous" but really grill or saute cook. he called me sous in front of people but that was just to make the slow restaurant look bigger then it was. i didn't do much as far as menu creation other then some sides or one app or two. but the title is a lot of weight. i feel is easier to not take on responsibility of making the menu better, but i am open to and let my opinion come naturally.but to make the place a better business was not my job, only the ones with large stock can add input. i work on confidence by proving to myself i know it. even when someone is right on your shoulder, take the time to know you've done this all before. i had to take a lot of **** home to learn every step. however, i do feel that the name can go on a resume. unless the up coming job is a bigger deal then the last, i say chalk it up and put yourself out there without killing the truth. never forget that everyone is a person like yourself.

but the restaurant is not doing well which left me having to step down and train someone else. i'm a student and am starting it back up this semester. and while i can put down sous as much as i can it still didn't land me the one hopeful job (pantry for the one fine place in town). in fact cause my restaurant didn't do so well people don't know it and mostly discredited it.
for me in my short time doing this as well i come to expect that the good jobs and positions are hard to get. and for every great one there are suckyer ones.
sorry to hear that the new years day was a bust. no pun intended. haha.
and as far as culinary school.... i don't know. maybe thats why i like this blog. but i think that if i went it would be mostly for me and not as much the job prospect. it seems like cooking can be learned from all different ways. passion and experience seem to be the big factors. but if you can do the job once you can sure build your way again.
i don't know if any of that helps but i can understand thats its supper frustrating. keep it posted what you go for.
good luck,
ari
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks Ari. That helps to put it into perspective. My friends a family have been telling that I am being used in more ways than I knew was possible. I didn't want to believe them because they are't in the "industry". Nothing wrong with being "used" you just have to be able to see when its time to move on and I didn't want to see The writing on the wall. I read a lot and the books all tell you how hard it is and having been in the trenches the hard part isn't being in the trench is what you do when you are out and how to get outt that can be difficult. When we are busy I thrive. SoI'll keep trying.

The restaurant has been around for 7 + years and I was a patron the chef is a friend of sorts. So I really hope he makes it, for everyones sake. One other thing I could care less about the title. I want the experience and not working is not getting me anything. Thanks again.
post #4 of 12
I say be honest and list your responsibilities on the resume and clarify during a face to face interview. I also have to be honest when i say that anyone who list sous chef on the resume, better have more than 2 years experience or I almost always put it in the no thanks pile. Maybe I'm old school, I've been doing this at high levels for well over 20 years, but it actually offends me a little bit. No offence, but to go from dish washer to sous chef in 11 months only speaks volumes about why the restaurant is failing. If the place can't get you enough hours I say it's time to look elsewhere. The term is called "paying dues" and not "being used", as far as culinary school, i went to the C.I.A. It gets your resume read, but I've hired and fired people from the best schools around. some were great, some were duds. You only get out of it, what you put into it, so in short, I hire in this order. #1 experience, #2 passion, #3 attitude, #4 potential, I often hire young kids to teach them and give them practical experience and lastly, what school you went to.They say it's only work if you don't like to do it, so I can say that I haven't done a day of work in over 20 years, lol. Always follow your heart and passion and everything else will fall into place.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
[QUOTE=natividad;274544]I say be honest and list your responsibilities on the resume and clarify during a face to face interview. I also have to be honest when i say that anyone who list sous chef on the resume, better have more than 2 years experience or I almost always put it in the no thanks pile.



Totally agree with the above statement, besides I never asked to be called the sous chef, nor do I want that much responsiblity right now., I just want to cook and learn. I'm trying to figure out what to put on the resume, does the work experience need a title? Can I just type Cook and list the reponsibilities. Better yet skip all titles and just list locations and responsibilities. Ideas Ideas. Goning to do some more work on this thought...


Maybe I'm old school, I've been doing this at high levels for well over 20 years, but it actually offends me a little bit. No offence, but to go from dish washer to sous chef in 11 months only speaks volumes about why the restaurant is failing.

None taken, in my case it was weeks not months and I'm not even going to hazard a guess as to the why. But these replies are definately helping me understand things a bit more. The "used" comment was in reference to the tossing around of the title infront of industry people. I usually smiled and avoided the topic and continued on what ever project was on hand. I hate being put on a pedistal. Last time I checked pedistalls were for statues.:lol:

If the place can't get you enough hours I say it's time to look elsewhere.

Thank you. I feel a lot less confused and am getting a much clearer picture.:) So glad to have found this site.
post #6 of 12
Do you cook like a demon at home? Are you using your home kitchen to refine your skills? Your chef won't let you cook a 'few of the sauces,' - can you cook them? Have you tried them in your home kitchen?

Your home kitchen has to be your lab.

If I were interviewing you we'd spend probably 3/4s of the time talking about what you do to expand your skills when you aren't on the job. Assuming your resume is not embellished, I wouldn't need to plow that ground again. I can read. Why waste time saying "I see you've worked at so-and-so, tell me about that." ****, it's on the resume.
post #7 of 12
No--you don't really need a title on your work experience section of your resume. But I would do as you suggested and just use the title "Cook".
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
"Do you cook like a demon at home? Are you using your home kitchen to refine your skills? Your chef won't let you cook a 'few of the sauces,' - can you cook them? Have you tried them in your home kitchen?"

Yes, I cook so much that when my mother-in-law comes to visit she has the audacity to suggest that I spend too much time in the kitchen. Yes, my meat is no longer gray or burnt, if you want it rare got it, medium well got it...I have tried to make some of the sauces at home. Only one that still eludes me its the one that uses veal glace. I need to get the bones.

Your home kitchen has to be your lab.

I love to have dinner parties and I used to try new recipes on unsuspecting guests/friends. Now I can whip up something and we call all sit down have a martini, glass of wine and chat, eat some apps, then sit down for the main. I frequently am asked when is the next party.

If I were interviewing you we'd spend probably 3/4s of the time talking about what you do to expand your skills when you aren't on the job. Assuming your resume is not embellished,


I like to embelish my plates not my resume. Which is why I am asking questions. Embellishments on my resume make me nervouse and uncomfrotable which inturn makes the prospective employer wary of me.

Thanks for the input.

Zunzuncito
post #9 of 12
i didn't mean to be harsh or overly critical. It's best to call yourself a cook. The face to face interview is where you must shine and express how much passion you have for the business. You have to express that no matter what it takes, you will do whatever you need to do to succeed, in other words, pay your dues. I always love to help young passionate cooks, if not personally, I can often point you to a chef that might hire you. The point is the interview is where you will win or lose a job. It's not good to overly embellish a resume cause I can smell bull**** a mile away, lol. good luck to you my friend.
post #10 of 12
Cheers, sounds like you're well on your way. Don't be scared to be a little audacious. If you can deliver the goods then you can deliver the goods.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks to all of you and your helpful advice. Now its off to the printer for the resume and then drop the kid off at day care, then continue on with the search and learning process.

On a side note natividad - I am notorious for underselling myself especially if I don't feel comfortable in the situation. Thanks to you and them I know what I am and that will help immensely. I'll still get sweaty palms but at least I'm getting my hands wet.LOL:lol:
post #12 of 12
I completely agree. I was working in a restaurant for two years before I was a "sous chef in training" or Jr. sous. And I was hired as a first cook, before those two years of experience. It took me a total of eight years to get to my first Sous Chef position and I was under the impression that I was moving up very quickly.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Professional Chefs