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tired of the hassels of being a line cook

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I am 23 and I have been a line cook at some great restaurants. I have worked in about 7 different fine dinning restaurants in california since I graduated culinary school 6 years ago. I am working in a one michelin star restaurant at the moment.  I am a talented line cook and usually move up to a tournant or a lead line cook but it seems almost impossible to get past that point because the sous chefs never seem to leave.  sometimes i feel that i am just unlucky and never get a break. I am getting tired of the line cook runaround and am trying to look for maybe some other outlets in the food industry that i can maybe try out.  does anyone have any suggestions for me?

post #2 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by culinary4life View Post

I am 23 and I have been a line cook at some great restaurants. I have worked in about 7 different fine dinning restaurants in california since I graduated culinary school 6 years ago. I am working in a one michelin star restaurant at the moment.  I am a talented line cook and usually move up to a tournant or a lead line cook but it seems almost impossible to get past that point because the sous chefs never seem to leave.  sometimes i feel that i am just unlucky and never get a break. I am getting tired of the line cook runaround and am trying to look for maybe some other outlets in the food industry that i can maybe try out.  does anyone have any suggestions for me?


 About 7 restaurants in 6 years, that may be your problem. Most restaurants don't like to change their Chefs and Sous Chefs every year. Now that you have experience, you need to prove stability. Once you are a tournant (roundsman) and you know every position you should be in line for Sous Chef as soon as the Exec. Chef leaves. Don't be in such a hurry, you will get gray hairs soon enough. I know cooks that waited 15-20 years before they took their fist Chefs position. Enjoy the time with your family now after you become Chef, time with them will be in short supply unless you are lucky enough to get a good crew. And that is getting harder to come by. Everybody want to be  the Chief but the Chief in only as good as his crew.  If you graduated 6 years ago I am assuming your Culinary School was a  VO Tech. program in High School  which dosen't carry  the same weight as  a grad. of C.I.A., Johnson and Wales or Cordon Bleu..etc. GOOD LUCK!

post #3 of 9

IMHO, a great line cook is worth his/her weight in gold, it could take 5 to 7 years to move up in a well established quality restaurant. I always had a hard time working a restaurant menu longer than 8 months to a year. I wanted variety and found it in catering, I was able to show my skills and be creative. I think this may also be happening to you, once you know the menu, and excel, then what ? what makes you think the Sous position is more exciting ??? watch what you wish for, it may not really fit your needs. Take a close look at yourself and ask, what is it that makes me happy in this business. If i was to venture a guess, I would say, you are at your happiest when you are in a new position, challenged, succeeding and excelling in that position. The problem is, when you reach that goal there is nothing to look forward to, and your board. The good thing is your 23 years old, I would work under as many good/great Chefs as possible, and in a few years you will be able to walk into any restaurant and talk Turkey. Be good at what you do, and good things will come .........................Chef Bill

post #4 of 9

It's not often that CaterChef and I agree, but this is one of them.

 

Mobility is one thing. But seven jobs in six years? You may or may not be as good a cook as you say. But what you don't have, apparently, is the discipline to stay the course.

 

Try hanging around on one job for awhile, develop a rep so that other chefs are aware of who you are and the job you can do, and things will open up---if not in the restaurant you're in, then in another.

 

Of it just might be that restaurant work isn't for you.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #5 of 9

I concur with Bill.  Find your way into the best places you possibly can.  Offer a free trial of say 1 or 2 days.  Get in their faces.  Attend trade shows, and cooking demos and speak to the chefs there.  A lot can happen simply via networking.  But work your way into the finest places you can.  Develop your skills, then you have a marketable and valuable skill.

 

I enjoy catering much more than a la carte, but the real labor is in restaurants, where the service is imperative, and creates an environment where you have to constantly think on the move, and innovate immediately.

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 

 I went to le cordon bleu in San Fransisco not a high school program.  alot of the restaurants I have worked in were under great chefs but after a year of me working there ether the chef decided to leave and then the owners were going to hire a not as good chef or after a year of me working there the restaurant would re-concept into a not as fine dinning of a restaurant because of the economy.  also over the past years I have had to work 2 jobs at certain points(because as some of you know line cooks don't get paid that well) so that is were the 7 jobs in 6 years comes in.  the last restaurant I was at I was there for 2 years and then they decided to re-concept because of the economy.  I'm just at a point where I am wondering if there is any other outlets in the food industry that I might be able to use my knowledge and skill.  Not saying that I am going to stop working in great restaurants, but just looking at other options.  thanks for the opinions.

post #7 of 9

Economic conditions can take a great deal of wind out of the sales of fine dining places, for obvious reasons.  One of the advantages of having a fine dining background though, is that you can take some of the food concepts and apply them to generic restaurants, lifting, or refining the existing menu, whilst keeping the costs low.

 

Fine dining restaurants, aside from having great food, also need to have correspondingly great ambience and design.  This costs money too.  Generic eateries don;t have that problem to the same extent, but a funky space, with refined food at reasonable prices, might be a surprising and refreshing place for customers to eat at.  As a chef, its good to be adaptable to new concepts, and mould your abilities. Try to stick around a little longer, and perhaps you value might become more apparent to the owners.

 

If you can, try to bring some fine dining ideas to your existing work place.  Its also worth considering catering as opposed to restaurants.  I would also strongly suggest packing your bags, and coming to Australia, NZ or Europe and looking for a job there.  In Australia, we're having a growth in better food establishments, Thanks to TV shows like 'Masterchef" and "My Kitchen Rules".  Australia is very short of skilled and enthusiastic cooks.

 

I suspect the same is true of NZ.

post #8 of 9

perhaps this isn't economically feesable, believe me i'm a line cook too, but maybe you should try moving to another city. san francisco isn't the only food town in the country. you might do better for yourself somewhere else. aside from chicago, new orleans and new york{and i don't know from first hand knowledge} but i always hear that places like charleston, sc, minneapolis, mn and portland, or are great food cities. they are smaller cities, but have a lot of lesser known james beard recognized chefs. it's worth checking out if you want to keep doing what you do and be appreciated for it. having san francisco on your resume will take you a lot father in these kind of cities.

post #9 of 9

I agree with alot of what has already been said here and I think you need to find work in a place you like and stick with it.  When I look at resumes for potential hires, I always look for the length of time the applicant has stayed at previous jobs.  For me (and the KM has taken my lead on this) it shows a level of commitment and we need that in our kitchen. 

 

I wouldn't get tired of your time on the line.. it's where everything happens in this business.  You should be taking this time to learn all you can and enjoy your life while you are young and as you move up you will find more and more work demands and less and less personal time.  I know you went to Le Cordon Bleu but honestly in this business to move up depends more on you and your work rather than where you went to school. 

 

Me.. .I have yet to set foot in a culinary school.. I keep toying with the idea but at this point I'm thinking of maybe taking some specialty classes rather than a full blown course...

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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