I am going on 27 years old. I started cooking about 21 months ago at a giant corporate chain restaurant (whose name I'll keep out to myself) as a way to break into the business. I had been enrolled at LCB about a year prior and actually dropped right before I left because I didn't want to over commit myself in a field I had never worked in.
I started my job at the giant corporate chain restaurant at the bottom, but within three months I was running the line on the weekends. I may not have a lot of experience, but that type of environment is not what I would call cooking. Truth be told, I really ended up hating how artificial everything was, and managed to land a job at one of the better restaurants in town, working cold food.
Time from hire to quitting at the giant corporate chain restaurant was about 10 months.
The place I went - which is still my current gig - has been full of ups and downs. The owner is borderline abusive in the way he treats his employees, we are tremendously understaffed as far as I can tell, and the general hygiene and cleanliness is not what I consider up to par, no matter how realistic I'm trying to be about it. My head chef is a bit of a joke to be honest, more of a sous chef to the owner (who has never cooked in his entire life). It is an exceptionally disorganized place under his watch, and technique is pretty much out the window. To be honest, I can barely believe we are as successful as we are in attracting and keeping business. It's no longer a challenge for me except for the constant challenge of keeping my head straight while under a deadline. It has become really hard to stand behind the product we put out, which I believe is the key to keeping your passion up.
Those are the downs, the ups are the fact that working this line has been amazing experience just for the sheer amount of work and responsibility I have on a day to day basis. I have met some really great and talented people, and all around, the quality of the food we put out is actually pretty damn good for what it is, due to not much more than my dedication to make things happen. I've been bumped up to hot food, and am supposed to start learning saute after the summer (though I don't trust my owner as far as I can throw him). I've also managed to show myself I can really do what I love and to really work my ass off.
I've been working there for 9 months now, but my enthusiasm and willingness to do the best I can has just been beaten out of me. The downsides are piling up, and I really dislike the area I'm living in, and am really looking to relocate sooner rather than later.
My biggest concern is my lack of experience, and the fact that I would potentially be leaving two places consecutively, after spending less than a year in either of them. This rolls into the fact that since I've graduated high school, I've done a lot of moving and a lot of short term work for not very high wages. It was fun, and I know how to do a lot of pretty interesting things because of it, but I'm ready to get serious.
I know I'm facing a few hurdles moving somewhere else with these things in mind, but I consider myself an intelligent and very hard working person. I don't mind starting from the bottom and working my way up. All I'm looking for is somewhere professional that will let me learn if I put forth the effort.
So if you've made it through all that, my big questions are:
At this point in my career should culinary school be an option?
Do any of you as chefs and managers have experience hiring people from out of state, especially for a non-managerial position?
Anyone have any ideas on where to go?! heh.
Thanks for your time if you've read this, I'm eager for responses.