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Wanting to work in a good kitchen - location in US

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

This is possibly one of those mid-life crisis moments, but bear with me.

 

I want to learn to cook GOOD food, preferably Italian.  I would love to learn to butcher meat, clean fish and seafood, the whole nine yards.  I want to learn to cook where the food is great and made from scratch.

 

I have a day job, but can work from "home", wherever that is.  My work hours are M-F 8-5 CST.  Unfortunately, this would have me walking into a dinner rush pretty much anywhere.  However, I am willing to work weekends too. 

 

Think of this as a "will work for education" scenario.  I have to start somewhere, so I was hoping something similar to an "internship" would work out for both myself and the restaurant. 

 

I live in TN, so "seafood" and "fresh" really don't happen here.  The seafood that coastal people have come to expect is simply not available here.  I'm willing to travel on my dime and pay my own living expenses.  In exchange, I hope to not wash dishes the entire time.  The very highest I should start is doing "prep".  I've been out of a kitchen for too long, and the kitchens I have worked in were not the kind where making great food from scratch was even an option. 

 

So, if you know of a restaurant that might be open to allowing my fat, 40 year old rear end in their kitchen, please let me know.  My preference is Chicago or east of Chicago. 

 

You may stop laughing now :).

post #2 of 6

I do exactly the same thing. Stage in random kitchens just for something to do in my massive amount of free time. I have worked fine dine (mostly), Korean sushi, Italian, French-inspired American, Indian, Chinese, Diners, Hotels, you name it. You have to find a chef-owner, or an owner with a chef that doesn't mind having an extra hand in the kitchen. I don't do dishes, but i'll grab a mop, broom, wipe-down a station, move dish through during prep to keep things humming along - whatever anyone that works there does, I do. This is a really big pay-off for the brigade after service, because everything needs to be cleaned, deck brush/mop, trash, fryer, flat top... the standard list... If you start working prep in a kitchen - fly through service and are still there cleaning up and closing with the brigade - you get instant respect.

 

You also set the tone and expectation of all others that come to stage after you. I've seen cooks melt under pressure before service even started. I've seen them walk right by puddles and spills and not even think to grab a mop. I've seen them stand around and either do nothing, or want to spend the day taking pictures with their damn phone, or texting on it. Or they get frustrated when they get the 500 oysters to clean or oranges to supreme.

 

You are my age, so I'm sure any of what I just said is obvious - point is that you show up with your two knives and peeler - you grab a board and find a station - and people will be more than happy to throw their list at you. Then work cold or dessert during service, help plate, whatever. All of the sudden everyone is cheering and happy when you show up and they really do miss you when you're not there to take just a little bit of load off their day.

 

I am 100% for you going out there and doing it. Your feet, legs, back and everything else will remind you that you're not 20 anymore. It will suck to realize 16 hours is really 16 hours... but it's totally worth it. I love seeing and working with the cooks and chefs. Love the FOH people, the whole lot of it. If it made money I'd do it for a living.

 

You have to find a chef/owner gig because commercial/chain places are either liability limited or not worth working in to begin with. I have turned-down jobs at every kitchen I have ever worked in. Not because i am a master chef - but because I have the same work ethic, passion and motivation that i did in my 20's.

 

You need to do this man - it is very theraputic! I have a collection of house-issued aprons and coats that chefs have given me or do not want back from me, so i can return and work again for them whenever I want to. It is a good feeling. I've been called to assist overruns, whack weeds and cover gaps. Just me, my bain of spoons, spats and knives and a little passion. (no talent but a lot of passion)

 

The cooks think we're nuts for wanting to be in their hell for free - but what they don't realize is that I don't see that same dedication, commitment and passion with the fat assholes I work with each day. Working with kids that have the same backbone we did at 20-something is worth every minute of my free time.

Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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Do or Do not - There is no Try. - Yoda
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post #3 of 6


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

This is possibly one of those mid-life crisis moments, but bear with me.

 

I want to learn to cook GOOD food, preferably Italian.  I would love to learn to butcher meat, clean fish and seafood, the whole nine yards.  I want to learn to cook where the food is great and made from scratch.

 

I have a day job, but can work from "home", wherever that is.  My work hours are M-F 8-5 CST.  Unfortunately, this would have me walking into a dinner rush pretty much anywhere.  However, I am willing to work weekends too. 

 

Think of this as a "will work for education" scenario.  I have to start somewhere, so I was hoping something similar to an "internship" would work out for both myself and the restaurant. 

 

I live in TN, so "seafood" and "fresh" really don't happen here.  The seafood that coastal people have come to expect is simply not available here.  I'm willing to travel on my dime and pay my own living expenses.  In exchange, I hope to not wash dishes the entire time.  The very highest I should start is doing "prep".  I've been out of a kitchen for too long, and the kitchens I have worked in were not the kind where making great food from scratch was even an option. 

 

So, if you know of a restaurant that might be open to allowing my fat, 40 year old rear end in their kitchen, please let me know.  My preference is Chicago or east of Chicago. 

 

You may stop laughing now :).



Jeez GooblyGook for a minute or 3 there I thought I was rereading one of my own posts!! .... until I got to the Chicago part that is  :P

I am kind of in the same situation only I live in E. Tn. with a wife and son and I can't travel out of state, unfortunately I am also currently out of work due to layoffs and like yourself I would love to be able to get into a really good Italian or for me French style restaurant so that I could learn, however I have as of yet been able to find such a restaurant where I live (about the only type of restaurant we have around here are chain restaurants and I do my damndest to stay away from them if possible).

Where do you live in Tn? West, Middle or East?

I actually made a post on another site asking if anyone would be interested in starting a cooking/baking group or whatever they are called these days, I thought it would be a great way of getting to know people of like minds and share information.

post #4 of 6

I myself am on my way to LA in a few weeks. My wife is moving in with some friends with our herd of dairy goats and our puppy. Have no idea when I will coming back up north for good and will probably only come up once a month to stay with the wife for a weekend. Just have to force some change into my life as being out of work for so long is messing with my head.

"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 #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm in West TN.  I'm about 5 miles outside of "the sticks". 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Highlander01 View Post

Where do you live in Tn? West, Middle or East?

I actually made a post on another site asking if anyone would be interested in starting a cooking/baking group or whatever they are called these days, I thought it would be a great way of getting to know people of like minds and share information.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

FYI, in case it helps anyone.  My "day job" is in IT.  The contract I was on expired in Nov 2007 (just in time for the economy to tank).  I did a few gigs to pay the bills.  I went to St. Louis, San Antonio, and Austin.  There is a chain of hotels called "value place".  I've never had to stay in one, but they look okay.  They're usually around $200/week in non-expensive areas (in LA, I won't even try to guess).  You cannot check in on Sunday, just FYI.  However, I have found places on Craigslist, read the ads for roommates/shared and even post in "looking for housing".  I've spent $400-600 per month for a fully furnished room with utilities.  They can be had cheaper if you're willing to share a bath.  However, it's usually a single guy, quiet, with a house that's way too big for them.  In one case, I got a converted garage apartment, which was also cool.  All understood my circumstances, and it was strictly month-to-month.  Fortunately, my wife is a stay-at-home mom, so the kids were well cared for in my absence.  I'm not suggesting it's EASY, just that it's a possible alternative.  I also realize adding $400-600 in extra expenses a month with an IT salary is easier than on a line cook's salary.  I'm just sharing my experiences in hopes that someone else might benefit.

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