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How did you get ahead in your career?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I've been in the food service industry for about 7 years now, and I'm still a line cook in the entry level position. I have about 5 years culinary experience, and 2 years front of house experience, and I'm currently in my third semester for Culinary Arts and Hotel & Restaurant Management. The restaurant I'm at now I've been at for 6 months. Before that, I was at a steakhouse for over a year. 


I'd like to know what I can do to be bumped off of pantry and move up to saute or grill. I don't know what else I can do, I'm pretty sure I've done it all. I've showed them I can handle long work hours, I prep my station and other stations, I'm always the first to start cleaning up as soon as the rush is done, I've even asked to be bumped off the station because I'd like to learn saute or grill. I have saute and grill experience, but they still refuse to move me around. I've watched the saute guy and the grill guy be replaced by new employees at least twice already, but they have yet to put me in their spot and put someone in mine.


What am I doing wrong? I want the experience but I'm not getting it, should I leave? I like trying to stay at one place for at least a year, but I'm not where I can excel, even though I really know how to make an awesome dessert presentation. I've tried to think why I'm not moving from my spot when everyone else has, all the thoughts.... "It's because I'm a girl," "It's because my station is the hardest and no one else can do it (This is what they tell me, I call BS)," "They don't want me learning more cuz they have to pay me more," etc. etc. I've even thought the worse, "It's because I suck." This is my career on the line and I'm demanding answers but not getting them. I've point blank asked them why everyone else is hopping stations but not me, when I'm the only one asking to be moved.


Any advice is great!! Thanks!

post #2 of 8

Maybe it's time to leave.

post #3 of 8


cooking with all your senses.....
cooking with all your senses.....
post #4 of 8

I hate to say it, but I'm in a higher position (I'm a pastry chef, not really a baker) and I spent not even a fraction of the time you did...It goes to show you what I already know and always tell other's NOT WHAT you know it's WHO you know!!! Back in my desperate-for-a-job days, I would play by the rules of the game, do everything right...say everything right. Only to get passed over in favor of a complete dumbsh*t whom you know couldn't match up to you in performance. A complete know-nothing idiot...well...the only thing that idiot DID know was the right person to find them a way in and leave you sh*t outta luck. Do I detect the irony in what I'm describing to you? Yes, but in this case, I don't think it applies to me. Because I had no formal/culinary school training...just spending way too much time cooking and baking for myself and others...Though I'm no Betty Crocker, I already had proficiency/familiarity with the professional culinary methods/terminology. Still, I had to cram years worth of experience in a tiny little internship where I worked for free for a few months. I had to live off my savings to make the rent. I had to really cram and work hard, even with the risk of them saying "thank you for your time, your services are no longer needed here."


You're listing all the reasons they're keeping you in that position...Is there more than one person in charge where you're at? If your immediate supervisor is being a blockhead long enough, go over him. If you're seeing new employees get trained to do what you want to do (and odds are, new employees are paid with a higher starting wage than you started with), that's a DEFINITE red flag. You look like you're doing it all and getting taken for granted. You're being used. Why WOULD they want to promote you when you're doing all this work for them at the wage you're being paid? You've been there long enough and have done WAY more than enough to prove you can do more, and they either can't or won't (my money's on "won't") accommodate you.

I'd say, stick to your basic duties and spend that extra time searching for greener pastures.

post #5 of 8



This is a tough business and many things happen that kinda make ya go Huhhhhh!


There is so much that has changed since I started back in the 70's. I mean A LOT!. I haven't been active for seven years now but there was so much that changed from 1990 to 2003.


The only thing I can offer is what has already been mentioned. Leave. But I will expand on that.


No good deed goes unpunished especially in the restaurant business. I don't know you from Adam but I'll give you the benefit of doubt and think that you're a hard worker, don't complain too often yet offer solutions when you do, and are truly committed to the execution of and pursuit for perfection of your craft.


Even though it would appear that there is a quick and easy way to fame or the height of your career......there really is no substitute for hard work. You need to understand that for you to handle the situation(s) and demands that will be placed on you in this business the long, road that is less traveled is the best road. There is something lacking in those that rise quickly. You should understand this from baking. Bread that rises quickly has no real depth or substance to it. It's light, airy and well....blah. The flash in the pan is bright but gone quickly. It's only been 7 years. Some folks wait a life time and never have anything happen. Then they find themselves offering suggestions to.........umm never mind. Hehehe


My point is step back and really take a look at what it is you do. If you are hitting all the marks, don't have too many "aw sh!tz" and can be considered an asset to the operation, talk to your bosses and let them know. But something you have to realize is that we are often not as good as we think we are early in our careers. That is why you need to step back and really assess yourself. Just be honest about it. If you do leave for what you perceive to be greener pastures and the same thing happens have your answer.


Hope this helps and good luck

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for the insightful advice! Oldschool, you pointed out a few things that made a lot of sense to me. I've been looking for greener pastures, and passed up a few. A few things are changing at work, my mean sous chef is giving sign of leaving, a new sous chef has been training for a while at our other restaurant and has just transferred to ours, and our restaurant owner is coming back to the store for a few weeks. I feel this is a sign of good things to come, so for now I'm just going to ride the wave until it's time to move on or if things go sour again. Thanks again!

post #7 of 8

OldSchool, that seems to contradict what's going on... if she sees new meat getting trained for the position she HAS experience for, is it really because the supes' think that they're more TALENTED than someone who has 5 years biz experience, 2 years front of the house experience and 3 semesters of culinary school training? Or is there favoritism involved? She's really not as good as she thinks she is? Perhaps, but I doubt it. Not with her background and her passion. I've experienced the same issue in other businesses...sometimes the person you're getting passed over for really IS a know-nothing dumbsh*t who knows the right people *lol*. But I do agree she should ask for an evaluation, not only for her sake but it might "wake up" the bosses into seeing that they had a great asset there all along...and one they might be losing by the sounds of things *lol*.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

wow, I can't believe it's been almost 3 years since I posted this... To sum it up, I ended up getting pushed out from that restaurant about 6 months later (I was there exactly one year), bounced around A LOT, then was asked to come back August 2012. The business was suffering and I agreed to come back and help out. But they didn't want help, and they didn't know what they wanted, and before they could take advantage of me, I left in October for "greener pastures." My husband and I have moved from Albany NY to Boston MA and I'm still looking for work (took some time off to do the majority of the moving, house hunting, and organization). What I've learned in the last 10 years is to trust my judgement. More times than not I've been right about many situations, and went against my judgement for fear of the consequence, only to find out I should have taken the risk anyway. 

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