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Need Advice on What I Should Be Applying for

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hey, I posted here before for advice on my first line job and I liked a lot of the feedback and suggestions. Now I am back wondering if anybody could give me advice what I should be applying for and how I should go about it.
Here is the background on my situation. I graduated in June from a community college with an A.A. in culinary arts. It was a great experience and I got exposed to a lot of different cultures. Besides that 3 week job line cook job, I''ve been working as an "on-call line-cook" at a well known club/restaurant in L.A. since January. The restaurant itself has been closed since i started, so they just call me for banquets and catering events. I'm usually either plating, prepping, and/or finishing off the par-cooked food. Maybe once in awhile if we're short or its for over 500 people, I'll get to actually make stuff from scratch. I work basically 1-2 times every other week. Its my first culinary job and pretty much the only job I've had since January.

Since its been pretty much my only job, I've been pretty much stuck living with my parents. I primarily look for jobs through craigslist and career builder and I apply for any cook jobs. I generally avoid places that are chains or places with mediocre food. I've had about 6 interviews out of probably 60 applications/resumes I've sent out. Thats not including the non-kitchen positions I've applied for, which would make it up in the 100s somewhere.

Anyway I've been thinking about reconsidering my position on chain restaurants as I'm getting kind of desperate for money. I just have a hard time trying to convince myself that I won't be learning from mediocre cooks or chefs even though they're cooking mediocre food. I want to be the best and I don't want to settle for mediocrity. I've also thought about working as a dishwasher but I either don't hear anything or I hear they want someone with at least 1yr experience . I've also thought working for free but I don't exactly know how to go about that. I really wouldn't mind doing that at all especially if the place was well pretty well known. I just don't know what to expect or how long I would have do it for. There is also my cousin who can possibly get me a job as a cook as hes opening up a restaurant/club in the San Francisco area in a couple months. I have some family that would let me stay with them and my cousin has even offered me to move in with him. Its just that its 2 months away, I don't like the bay area that much and Its not exactly a "sure thing" yet.

Anyway I've had a lot of friends and relatives tell me that maybe I should reconsider my career choice because of my experiences so far but I won't ever give up dreams of being a chef and eventually running my own catering business. So any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks
post #2 of 6
hang in there. until then, there's no shame in taking a job just to put some money in your pockets, unless you're working for mcdonalds or fat burger most chefs won't hold it against you. try hotel work, they're always looking for staff, as the turn over is fairly high in those places.
post #3 of 6
I started out in the quick service industry at Tim Horton's. I was FOH for a while and then when they went to having each store "bake" their own stuff I was appointed to the baker position. That's when I discovered that I loved the BOH! I learned alot about food safety while I was there, then I worked at a workplace cafeteria. The chef there was a total dickhead (sorry for the language) and I quit because I couldn't tolerate him and his BS any longer. From there I went to a cafe where I was the only cook and the owners gave me the freedom to create whatever I wanted for the daily special. Now I'm a line cook at a breakfast place and I love it! When I applied for my job I was a little unsure of myself and if I'd be able to perform but they hired and kept me so I must have been doing something right! Considering that my education background is not culinary I think I have done well for myself and I hope I am living up to the expectations of my KM and owners.
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #4 of 6
Chains can teach you consistency and portion control.
I like cooks who have done dishes before, as most that haven't seem to think it's beneath them, and never pitch in when needed.

I would physically apply instead of just electronically, you are apt to get a faster response.
And don't just contact them once...check back in, nearly to the point of annoyance.
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 #5 of 6
I haven't got a problem with doing dishes.. it comes with cooking, and sometimes cooks have to do them. I have had to run a load through more than once because I've needed something and the dishwasher hadn't started yet.

I agree about chains.. you definitely learn consistency and portion control for sure!
OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #6 of 6
Chains are a good starting point. In my own career, I started out in a chain restaurant at 18, then moved to a golf course, and at 19 I got a job at the top fine dining restaurant in my city. After 3 months (still 19 years old) I was made a Chef de Partie at said restaurant, supervising 2 other employees, and since then I've worked almost exclusively fine dining (though at 22 I made a permanent switch to pastry).

Anyhow, the point is, chains teach you how to work fast, consistent, you get a 'feel' for working in a restaurant, and if you're any good, you can move up very quickly. I never went to school, but when I made the switch to fine dining, even though I had zero knowledge and experience making good food I was able to learn very quickly, thanks mostly to the experience and even more importantly, the work ethic I got from working in chain restaurants.

Anyhow - you need experience and money, I'd say work in a chain restaurant for a year, and later on switch to nicer restaurants (the economy should pick up a bit more steam a year from now as well).
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