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Am I a slow line cook?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone. I apologize if this is posted to the wrong forum, but I am just seeking some professional advice - or reassurance anyway. Long story short, I'm a career changer that started line cooking about 8 months ago. I cut my teeth at a glorified burrito place, and quickly got moved to working the pantry station at an upscale Italian restaurant. Lately, the Exec chef has been requesting my help to fill in at other restaurants.

 

At the Italian place, where I am full time, I can honestly say I hold it down pretty tight. We're not ultra high volume usually, save a few choice weekends, but I never get into the weeds there on any given night - granted it's all cold side and desserts. I keep my station prepped, tight, and even take on a lot of prep during service for the sous chef, or double between the station and dish on slower nights.

 

Tonight was humbling though. I was asked to help out at a casual dining - but busy - kitchen, working the grill station. I know there were some things working against me tonight: I still don't fully know my way around the kitchen, didn't know the menu until service, and I've never, ever worked a grill station. Needless to say, I got my ass kicked. For the first time in a while I cracked under the pressure. The woman training me was running circles around me - she's a veteran of the industry - but I also felt like I was getting in her way most of the time (not sure if it was my slow speed or just the fact that she's damn fast and has been working the station for a few weeks). She left when service calmed down a bit so I could get a feel for the station on my own.

 

Regardless, the sous seemed happy to have me come back in tomorrow. I am determined to do a better job, and this time around I feel like I'll be more confident to handle the station on my own, which will be the deal tomorrow.

 

Is it normal for an amateur line cook such as myself to be fumbling and bumbling so much at a new station? Do you think most chefs would be somewhat understanding and allow me some time to tighten up my work? Thanks everyone!

post #2 of 10

It's not your fault, it's their fault. Take everything in stride, you did good considering the jerks threw you in the middle of a line you knew nothing about. I would go in early, study the menu, find out where everything is located, do your best. It looks like you have more character than the people your working for, great job hanging in there, you have guts, don't let this knock you down, use it as a lesson learned, you will rise above the rest.................CHefBillyB

post #3 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeerConsomme View Post

Hello everyone. I apologize if this is posted to the wrong forum, but I am just seeking some professional advice - or reassurance anyway.

 

Is it normal for an amateur line cook such as myself to be fumbling and bumbling so much at a new station? Do you think most chefs would be somewhat understanding and allow me some time to tighten up my work? Thanks everyone!


A. You work in a professional kitchen, so your in the right place.

 

B. Even an experienced and seasoned line cook will have trouble at a new station. Not knowing  which door holds the ingredient we are looking for is usually enough to cause a few bumbles in timing, not to mention seasoning location, plating area and replacements of ingredients are all things that when second nature are no big deal, but when you don't know or you have to think about it slow you down.

 

sounds like the sous wasn't real concerned about it, you'll be fine with a few more days at the station.

 

"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 #4 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the reassurance guys. I worked the station again last night and handled it much, much better. I got to know my way around the kitchen more, and went into service knowing all the dishes. I do think I can have the station down cold in another shift or two.

 

And the sous seemed very happy with my performance, so he was understanding of my experience, and more than anything was happy to have a line cook come in from another place when they were short handed on short notice. He's a good guy to work for...I have a lot of respect for his patience.

 

 

post #5 of 10

In the last 5 years I very rarely worked the line. If an emergency came up , I did work it and man it was hard. The fact that although the guys do it right ,I do it different  so I had to adjust to their way.. On this particular evening we had A La Carte  going on about 300  and two weddings. One was 220 the other 175. We were short a few guys because of the weather they had a hard time getting in.. I Put the 2 Sous on the parties as they are easier and I took saute on the line. Man did I go thru the coals, in addition to doing it their way I did not know where they kept everything , Well we got thru, or I should say I got thru, thank the lord. The next time it happened It went better, as this time  I new their system and where everything was. Aside  from the Breakfast cooks which I believe the hardest job ,the night line is a close second  .. God bless youth.

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 #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChefBillyB View Post

It's not your fault, it's their fault. Take everything in stride, you did good considering the jerks threw you in the middle of a line you knew nothing about. I would go in early, study the menu, find out where everything is located, do your best. It looks like you have more character than the people your working for, great job hanging in there, you have guts, don't let this knock you down, use it as a lesson learned, you will rise above the rest.................CHefBillyB


Really? You're not going to learn a station as well by studying as you will by getting slammed and doing something 20, 50, 100 times. Sink or swim. Not that you shouldn't study, but I disagree with the criticism of the chef's character.

post #7 of 10

It sounds to me like you are well on your way.  Being tossed in front of the bus can suck but you will learn very quickly how to do your job.

 

Keep at it!  This is a career change for me too and you're never too old to learn new things. 

 

 

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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post #8 of 10

Stick with it. Repetition & consistencey can only make you better, sounds like you're on your way there.

post #9 of 10

It takes some time to build the speed.  And even if you're an experienced broiler cook it can be difficult not knowing the menu and all the PLUs.  I rock the broiler in one of the busiest places in the city but I'd have trouble if you dropped me into a line where I didn't know the menu.  Sounds to me like you've got it well in hand.thumb.gif

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #10 of 10

Hey, it's not your fault at all, you're still learning that station, it'll just take time to get familiar with it. Like any position in a resteraunt, it just takes being in that position on a busy night to learn the ins-and-outs to it. Just get a method and rythm to it and you'll make it your own in due time.

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