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First time posting; I need help

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
This is my first posting to this forum and I am pleased to know I have a place to chat with other folks in the food industry concerning advice, support, ideas and things of the sort. I have been in and out of the food industry--as a cook--for about ten years. I received my Chef certification through the Natural Gourmet Cookery School in New York City; I have since relocated to California. For the past five or six years I have been absent from the restaurant side of the industry; mostly to pursue other interests and eventually school. Recently, I decided to make a return to the line and have done a few stages here in the Bay Area. I recently did a stage with a popular restaurant in downtown San Francisco. I felt the atmosphere was good during prep and family meal, the kitchen ran well during the lunch run. The Chef and one of the sous felt good about me and decided to hire me for saute. They said some really encouraging things about my attitude and performance and it's important I don't let them down. My two concerns are; I have never worked a satue station before and the kitchen is run completely on expediting; very French style, I have never worked in that environment. I have always worked with tickets. I'm not too worried about working saute, however I need to work out a system so I can keep track of what I'm doing. I have to add that back in the day when I first started out in the culinary arts I was a bit bull-headed, younger than now and not very successful. Though now I have gained life experience that has helped to develop my work ethic. I know now what it takes to survive in this business and honestly this is a test of whether or not I have grown to meet those standards or if this really isn't the type of work for me ... Anyone? Opinions? Advice? Encouragement?
post #2 of 8
The Chef and sous have obviously seen something in you that they like. Why dont you approach them for practical advice? I know I would rather i was asked every 5 minutes, than staff muddled on and screwed up. There may be a system your predecessor had that they could share with you.

Others here will be able to offer more practical advice I'm sure.

Welcome to the site by the way. Look forward to hearing from you.
"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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"If we're not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat?" Jo Brand
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post #3 of 8
I agree with Bughut.

Welcome to the site!
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 8
Chef Freeman:

Welcome to to the site, Your situation should have an easy answer, but in the reality of a Kitchen Brigade its not. Obviously your'e Exec and Sous see somthing in your that tells them you can do the job. If your lacking the expierence of working a saute' station ask to be temporally placed in a station that it not as demending and fill in during the slower times until you come up with your own system and style. It's all an expierence thing Brother, The Saute station will make you or break you. Good Luck
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
I definitely don't want to tuck tail from the position. It's a challenge I know I'm up for. Thanks for the advice all, I think the key here is keeping communication open.
post #6 of 8
I was out of food service for 11 years and when I came back to it, I was afraid I would have lost my timing, etc. The first thing I did was cut every finger I had. You'd think I'd never seen a knife before. The biggest problem though was keeping track of the tickets. I could only work 2-3 at a time. It came back eventually, but it took awhile. I never worked in a brigade kitchen either. Always small places. When I watch shows where they have that type of kitchen I always think that I would be lost. The first place I ever worked as a teenager was a little fast food place where the people in front on the tills called everything back and you had to remember it and so did they as nothing was written down. The only clue you had was the cash receipt, and sometimes that wasn't much help as a cheeseburger, fries or medium shake were all .35. (Those were the days!) Any special orders would have to be memorized. I could do it then, and think I could now if I had to. When I watch people on T.V. in a brigade kitchen, I think to myself that I would have to write it down. Don't know if that would be feasible for you, but maybe you could try it. Also, if you struggle with this, I would tell the people in charge up front that you are having trouble. If they know they may need to repeat it to you they'll be ready for that and it shouldn't be a big deal. If I had a good cook that I had to repeat orders to, I wouldn't mind.
post #7 of 8
Be upfront with the exec and sous about your lack of experience working with an expediter.

My experience in a restaurant kitchen was a long time ago, but all of it was in the traditional brigade, no-ticket, expedited system. The key, as with many things which mix memory and physical skills is organization. Not just the organization of your mise, board and stove -- but organizing your mind. The enemy is stress and lack of confidence.

As you learn, you'll make mistakes. It's natural. Everybody does. In fact, we can't really learn very well without screwing up now and then. When you do foul up, as a good cook who wants to improve, you'll start thinking about what you did and how you can do better. But the orders keep coming and chaos grows. The more you dwell, the worse things will get, the more mistakes you'll make, the more you'll dwell, and so on.

You're allowed to ask for help, you know. It's a funny thing. When we first start out, and are having a lot of trouble doing the job, we're too embarassed to ask for help. When we know what we're doing and know we're up to the task, we ask for help when we need it -- without shame. It can be a sign of strength.

So... Lots of mise. Keep your station clean and organized, always. If you have trouble remembering, ask. When you fall behind let chef know before you and the entire kitchen are in the weeds.

You'll be chef de partie in no time,
BDL
________________________
Former owner/operator Predmoninantly French catering, former cook at a couple of good joints
post #8 of 8
This statement reminds me of something that my grandfather used to say, "Iron sharpens Iron."

While it's not entirely true, it still holds a profound meaning. The best way to get better at something is by asking for help and helping others.
Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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Dammi un coltello affilato e vi mostrerò l'arte più belle del mondo.
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