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Spend a week in a kitchen...

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
"Spend a week in a kitchen" seems to be a common piece of advice to people like me considering a change.

This may seem like a ridiculous question: But how does one go about this?

My résumé just doesn't include cold-selling. Perhaps I should just walk up and down the Bowery here in New York at 10am with a clean shave and hair tied back holding a sign:

Joking aside, how would or did you do this without knowing somebody?

More personally -- I did tour the FCI kitchen, which was amazing for its industrious energy, and I actually worked a couple of years at a busy sandwich shop downtown as a kid. I've already got the weird and long hours thing down as a software developer. I know I'll spend a lot of time executing others' ideas before I will my own. A trained musician, I have a healthy appreciation for practice. Do I already mostly know what I'm in for?
post #2 of 5

Career Changer in the Kitchen

Do you have any friends currently working somewhere? If so, ask them to introduce you to the Exec Chef. A personal introduction from a friend is best. Offer your services as a trial. If you find the right EC who cares about developing good people, you'll have a great mentor. If you find a guy that watches too much "Hells Kitchen", then you don't want to work there anyway.

Otherwise, sorry if it's not on your resume, but you'll have to do some cold calling. Pick out one or two restaurants that you'd really like to work at. Look in the mirror at yourself and repeat "I'm the best, I'm the best, I'm the best", and go knock on some doors. Just don't do it during service times, they'll hate you for that.

Another alternative is tele-marketing. Call around to pre-chosen restaurants introducing yourself and explaining your plan. Ask for an interview appointment.

As an owner of a catering company, I'm always curious about a person that takes the initiative to follow their passion. A person who really cares about their craft is always better than the guy that answered a newspaper ad, just looking for a job.

I managed radio stations and billboard companies before I enrolled in culinary school 15 years ago. Before I quit my "day job", I walked into a local restaurant, in a suit and tie, and explained my plans to change careers. I was fortunate enough to find an EC who cared enough to develop new talent, and brought me along. I don't think he'd ever seen someone in suit and tie asking for a job.

Pursue your passion like nobody will get in your way, and you'll have all you desire.
post #3 of 5
the way i have done it in the past was i went to the places i was interested in, sat down and ate there a few times to see what the menu was like, the service, the crowd etc... after i would come in the morning or afternoon before service and ask to speak with the chef. (i have only done this with smaller chef owned restaurants but i imagine the same could be done for any place, just will have to speak with management or someone in-between the kitchen and the hiring process.) ask for a 'trailing' shift or simply ask for any openings, at this point just getting in the door would be great for you. (if i understood your post correctly)
post #4 of 5
I would also agree with this advice. Also, go in and make sure to sit at the restaurant bar to eat on a slower night like a Monday or Tuesday. Bartenders are typically social so once they start asking questions, let them know your situation. It may even get you some face time with the chef.

It happened like this with a student of mine. Did EXACTLY that and ended up "trailing" or "staging" for a few days before he had 2 regular shifts (unpaid) after his day job was over. He also had no kitchen experience before so that won't stop you either.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out for you.
See the truth about the culinary education industry at www.culinaryschooladviser.com 
See the truth about the culinary education industry at www.culinaryschooladviser.com 
post #5 of 5
I don't think most chain restaurants will do this because of liability. I would find a smaller kitchen with a easier menu to learn. Offer your services for free for a week or two and work all stations. If you can't work 12 hour days and walk our saying you loved every minute then find another profession...............ChefBill
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