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What can I do to prepare for a cooking interview?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

I have an interview on Thursday at a really great country club. Getting in there would really launch my career. It's not in the city I live in and I was speaking to the sous chef on the phone and he said usually they do the interview and the cook off on two different days but because I'm coming from out of town they would condense it into one day. I was like "that's great..thank you" but inside I'm freaking out a little. I've had a job in the past where they had me stage for a day before they decided but most places just talk to me and flip through my portfolio and that's it. I've done black box exercises in school and I'm sure I can figure it out but I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice. Should I bring any recipes in case they expect me to do a dessert? I don't have too many dessert recipes memorized. What do you think they will be looking for? Maybe they want to see if I work clean etc? Any tips or advice would be appreciated or even just tell me about your experience having to do the same thing.

post #2 of 11

study the menu they have, it will give you some idea of what they have in the kitchen and if there is something on it you don't know, study up on it.  Be clean and pressed when you show up, have good sharp knives and be charming. If you want to try and schmooze a bit, study the Chef and Sous Chef, what awards have they won, if any, and then ask about them or say it's something your interested in trying one day. Best of luck.

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #3 of 11

Watch your knife skills. Know the big 5  Bechamel-veloute-tomato-hollandaise-espanole(brown)

Relax, Don't rush do it right rather then do it fast. Work and look clean and organized. Good plate presentation, don't over salt or over season, thats  why there is salt and pepper on guest tables.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #4 of 11

Can't stress enough that its all about appearances. As mentioned, make sure your hair is well groomed, cleanly shaved, clean and pressed jacket and pants, and a presentable apron. Go purchase these items if you have time. As far as the cooking goes- just concentrate on good solid cooking principles- adequate seasoning, proper searing(don't over sear the fish!)/nice grill marks, proper temperatures, vegetables appropriately cooked(not mushy green vegetables, not crunchy potatoes). The biggest thing you're trying to show interviewing for a line cook's job is that you can be accountable for a station and be counted on for producing a quality, consistent product night after night. Keep the flavor combinations fairly safe and simple(don't try to do a bunch of stuff you've never done before)- doesn't matter how interesting the flavor combination is- if you over cook your chicken breast and the salmon fillet is damn near raw, the carrots don't have any salt on them, and your french beans have lost their firmness, thats all that will be noticed. Basics, basics, basics. 

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys. Some great advice here. Thanks so much.

post #6 of 11

I agree completely with the comments already made, very solid advice.  Additionally, give detailed answers to the interview questions.  Don't simply answer "yes" or "no".  Good interview questions will not allow for a "yes" or "no" answer, but if they ask something like, "Can you work saute station?" explain your experience and why are good.  If you are stronger in another station, be honest.  If you're asked how you would prepare a certain dish, start at the beginning and give a detailed explanation.  They will be trying to decide if you are bull*****ing your way through or really know your stuff.  Know the sauces on their menu and how to prepare them, as well as the major proteins.

Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.
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Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.
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post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by lessthanwill22 View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by (Private User) View Post

Watch your knife skills. Know the big 5  Bechamel-veloute-tomato-hollandaise-espanole(brown)

Relax, Don't rush do it right rather then do it fast. Work and look clean and organized. Good plate presentation, don't over salt or over season, thats  why there is salt and pepper on guest tables.



ok, so.  the big 5? are we in 1954?  come on dude, nobody is cooking like that anymore.  i mean, yeah, the CIA is going to force that crap down your throat until you choke but other than that, you don't see that stuff anymore.  escoffier is dead!

season perfectly. don't under season, don't over season.


The OP is interviewing at a country club. They certainly still do cook like that in private clubs. Also, many chefs will still ask you what the mother sauces are whether they expect you to make them or not.

Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by lessthanwill22 View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by (Private User) View Post

Watch your knife skills. Know the big 5  Bechamel-veloute-tomato-hollandaise-espanole(brown)

Relax, Don't rush do it right rather then do it fast. Work and look clean and organized. Good plate presentation, don't over salt or over season, thats  why there is salt and pepper on guest tables.



ok, so.  the big 5? are we in 1954?  come on dude, nobody is cooking like that anymore.  i mean, yeah, the CIA is going to force that crap down your throat until you choke but other than that, you don't see that stuff anymore.  escoffier is dead!

season perfectly. don't under season, don't over season.


The OP is interviewing at a country club. They certainly still do cook like that in private clubs. Also, many chefs will still ask you what the mother sauces are whether they expect you to make them or not.



Or.....You all could be off completely and the country club kitchen is as bad as they get, and the OP will probably be so over qualified that even the Sous doesn't know what "Mis en Place" is

post #9 of 11

Here in Florida, with the exception of a few, most country clubs serve schlock.Most are ethnically  oriented and it's Quantity rather then Quality. Like a cruise line, unlimited food. They think carving Nova Salmon on a block of ice at the buffet is the greatest thing since chopped liver... I have worked in many clubs and of all of them I would call one upscale and that was The Everglades on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach where its quality first and no compromise.. Most others are strictly volume cooking with chopped parsley on top

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #10 of 11

I may be a bit late to the party here, and if you had the interview already lizabu, I hope it went well. As important as the cook off is, don't lose sight of the talking part of the process.  I have interviewed a lot of line cooks and I love anyone that is not afraid to ask great questions of me or the sous or exec. They don't have to be threatening or asking them to reveal house secrets, but  challenging, intelligent, probing  questions about how we do things are important. They show me (us) that the candidate can think and will bring something more to the table than robotic repetition. As important, you will get a glimpse of how they treat employees. How your potential future boss reacts to being questioned may help you decide if it really is a place you want to work at.

post #11 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by OldFoodGuy View Post

I may be a bit late to the party here, and if you had the interview already lizabu, I hope it went well. As important as the cook off is, don't lose sight of the talking part of the process.  I have interviewed a lot of line cooks and I love anyone that is not afraid to ask great questions of me or the sous or exec. They don't have to be threatening or asking them to reveal house secrets, but  challenging, intelligent, probing  questions about how we do things are important. They show me (us) that the candidate can think and will bring something more to the table than robotic repetition. As important, you will get a glimpse of how they treat employees. How your potential future boss reacts to being questioned may help you decide if it really is a place you want to work at.


Very good point here. Many people forget that the interview process works 2 ways. It's not just employers deciding whether or not they want to hire you, it's also your chance to decide whether or not you want to work for them.

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Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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