As an older guy(for starting in this business) just starting out in the BotH. I am at a bit of a crossroads. I am 38 and finally have myself in a position that I can follow my dream of cooking and someday owning my own place. I have a dream job in this industry... I work Monday-Friday 6-2:30pm, i have all the benefits including vacation, sick days, and paid holidays. From the sounds of it I make a very nice wage, well over minimum wage. I am always very aggressive in my job roles, meaning I have always advanced very quickly in any job I have ever had.
Here is some back story... I grew up in a family restaurant(OK, just burgers, sammies and hot dogs). I worked until I was 27 in many restaurants but all in the FotH, with the exception of 2 years as an expediter/ food-runner. I was offered many times a manager role but always turned it down because of the massive pay cut I would have had to take, not to mention adding 20+ hours a week to my time in the place. I have cooked all my life for family and friends. Everyone always has their get togethers at my place because I will always cook and no one ever has to bring anything. Any time I ever go places I end up in the kitchen and everyone else leaves because I seem to take over. I am a very type A personality, however I have learned to curb my focus and I can follow directions if you can lead. Think of me like a pitbull... if you are a leader I will follow, if not, well...
All that being said, I do not want to end up working the grill at this place forever. It seems that they are not really keen on letting me do anything else because my station is a PITA. I take orders from the customer themselves. They basically tell me what they want and how they want it and I make it. We do not have tickets in my cafe. I have to remember everything while they stand there watching me do it all. I do all the prep for the entire station and stock everything. I even make homemade bread for one vegetarian burger that is becoming more and more popular.. ugh... Over all we have a brigade of 8 people(not including the executive chef) and we do about $7500 to 10k a day in about 3.5 hours. We have 1 oven, 1 steamer, and a 10 gallon kettle all in the basement and the cafe is 1 level up(so we have to take the elevator) along with my grill station. We are kinda like a mini buffet place. I work at a large technology company, so there are many other cafes that are much better stocked than we are, however we are the second in sales all the time. I am actually the busiest grill station of them all. I like where I work because we bust a$$ to get everything done and are very creative in what we have to do to get it all done.
I have only worked in a kitchen for 3 months now as a job, but I see myself becoming more and more relied upon by other in the kitchen for assistance and advice. I am asked to taste test food before they have the chef taste it for last minute seasoning. I am even being referred to on how to make basic dishes and marinades. When we have a special, I ask the chef how to make it, I am usually asked how I would make it... I tell him and he says to make it how I want. It's all very weird. It is not how I expected it all to work.
Here is my actual question(s). I am being told that I do not really need to go to culinary school, and that I will get all the training I need on the job, even for advancement. I want to learn how to cook like a real chef, but I LOVE my schedule, pay and benefits. I want to grow and advance to as high of a level as I can. I dream of opening my own place, whether it be a full on restaurant or a little food cart. As I understand it, you all would rely more on past work history for your hiring process than education.
- From a lending perspective should I have a degree?
- Given my age, would I be taken more seriously for advancement if I have a degree to go along with my CV?
- Should I leave my cooshy job to work in a real restaurant?
- I guess... should I go to culinary school?
- Should I just stay where I am and buy CIA textbooks and go through them and learn all the technique, math and chit myself?
Any advise would be very helpful and appreciated.
Edited by RGM2 - 6/6/11 at 8:31pm