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Sous Chef - Advice on furthering my career

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

A little bit of background on me:

 

I've been in food service for nearly my entire life. I'm 31 years old. Most of my working life was spent as a cook at various restaurants and I picked up knowledge everywhere I went. Five years ago I started working in a country club as the "lead line cook" and 3 years later I got promoted to the Sous Chef position. I commanded a staff of about 5-6 kitchen crew, did 90% of the purchasing, took inventory, even though the chef was "cooking" it. I learned a little bit about the book keeping side of the job including, keeping a purchase journal, declining budget, and how food cost was calculated.

 

I moved out of state recently and landed a job with a division of Compass Group called Flik Independant School Dining. I'm the sous chef at a private high school now. My duties are somewhat limited. I do a little bit of the purchasing, I'm in charge of 1-2 people during my shift, I do a bit of the menu planning, and am responsible for nightly dinner services as well as brunches on the weekend.

 

Now here is where I'm looking for advice. I want to move my career to the next level. I want to be more marketable in a larger area of the industry. I'm really not interested in working for restaurants any more. Lets face it, the schedules and benefits suck ass. I want to learn more the accounting side of the trade.

 

How to keep proper records, how to cost out menus, how to control inventory and food costs, how to control & budget labor, etc. All these things I think will make me more marketable to get that next promotion or bigger job.

 

Can anyone recommend any good books on these subjects? Do some schools offer courses on these types of things? I've never been to culinary school, and with a 9 month old daughter now, it would be very difficult for me to do so, thus I'm looking for alternative measures to better myself.

 

I've thought about trying to go to school to become a certified nutritionist, as I think that would really open some doors for me given my culinary background.

 

Please I'm looking for any and all advice from the wise people of this community and industry. I'm really struggling financially and with the next few years I need to move forward. I cannot afford to stagnate and be complacent with my career where it currently is.

 

Thank you in advance for any feedback!

post #2 of 9

Eh, you don't need culinary school. The accounting/management/business departments at the local colleges have what you need.There is also U Pheonix, and non profit colleges increasingly have online options these days.

 

I've got a copy of Principles of Food, Beverage, and Labor Control by Dittmerr 9th and it deems be pretty decent. I looked it up at amazon just now and they are selling the ebook version for 30 bucks.

 

Nutritionist/dietician requires more school, ASFAIK. I don't know if they are used out side of hospitals and assisted living.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

So what type of class am I looking for exactly?

 

Just a basic accounting class? I feel like I could teach myself this stuff if I had the right resources. I just don't know what exactly I need to look for.

post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by FullTang View Post

So what type of class am I looking for exactly?

 

Just a basic accounting class? I feel like I could teach myself this stuff if I had the right resources. I just don't know what exactly I need to look for.

IMHO, you need to learn:

  • Basic bookkeeping, including profit & loss and balance sheets
  • Inventory practice and controls
  • Personnel management and employment law
  • Financial management
  • Basic business law
  • Marketing and advertising fundamentals

 

And it certainly would be beneficial to understand the:

  • Basics of electricity
  • Basics of plumbing, including water, gas, and beverage service
  • Basics of HVAC and refrigeration

 

By "basics" I mean a working grasp of the fundamentals so you know when to call in the pros and when you can figure out how to get by crazy.gif

 

Actually, if you can find an introduction to business or an entrepreneurial class or course at your local community college or some seminars/classes provided by SBA/SCORE, that would be an excellent first step.

 

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteMcCracken View Post

IMHO, you need to learn:

  • Basic bookkeeping, including profit & loss and balance sheets
  • Inventory practice and controls
  • Personnel management and employment law
  • Financial management
  • Basic business law
  • Marketing and advertising fundamentals

 

And it certainly would be beneficial to understand the:

  • Basics of electricity
  • Basics of plumbing, including water, gas, and beverage service
  • Basics of HVAC and refrigeration

 

By "basics" I mean a working grasp of the fundamentals so you know when to call in the pros and when you can figure out how to get by crazy.gif

 

Actually, if you can find an introduction to business or an entrepreneurial class or course at your local community college or some seminars/classes provided by SBA/SCORE, that would be an excellent first step.

 



Thanks for your advice. Most of your list seems to be what I'm looking for. Although a few of them I don't really think would apply to me. Such as Business Law and Marketing and Advertising.

The book keeping stuff is what I'm really after, although I agree 100% that plumbing, HVAC and electrician knowledge would be very valuable.

post #6 of 9

Full Tang,

I found it very helpful to get an accounting program. QuickBooks, Peach Tree, etc. It does not have to be that current for the basics. You can probably get an older version

of QB from someone for free. Set up a ficticious company. I think it moves things right along. Probably faster then school. The help option is very useful if you have questions.

I can probably find a disk for understanding QB. It;s been 35+ years since my business degree and using the program brought a lot of things right back.

panini

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the tip Panini!

 

I will definately give that a shot!

 

I found a book that I think will be a big help also, it's called "Culinary Calculations: Simplified Math for Culinary Professionals" by Terri Jones.

Just looking through the table of contents it looks like it has a good bit of what I'm trying to learn.

post #8 of 9

 

 

Quote: FullTang
How to keep proper records, how to cost out menus, how to control inventory and food costs, how to control & budget labor, etc.

 

Sounds like a degree in Hospitality Management covers everything your looking for.  If you have the time I would definitely look into an Associate's degree either online or at a community college.  Some major universities, such as Penn State, offer them online, but may be kinda pricey.  If you are planning on staying with Compass there is A LOT of room for advancement, and even though you have many years of experience, it might not be a bad idea to have some sort of management degree if you're trying to move up the corporate ladder.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice GreenGuy!

 

I absolutely would like to have more of a desk/management/travel type job in the future, although I'm aware I have a lot of work to do to get there.

 

As for the degree, well that might have to wait, as I really don't have much room in my budget for it. I will look at some of the online courses though to get an idea of what I'm looking at.

 

Thank for your feedback!

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