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line cook needs help and advice from professional chefs

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

OK well first off I'm new here and i could really use some advice from some professional chefs.

 

well i am a culinary student about to graduate in 3 months and i just recently got my first line cook position at a vegan restaurant that seats about 20 so very small and i thought that this would be a good place to get some hands on experience. so i have been working there for a month now and i was really enjoying working there its a really laid back hipster type of atmosphere the chef/owner has helped me out so much teaching me little tricks and such and giving me advice i fell really lucky to have sort of a mentor there.

 

so i thought i was doing well and i was fitting in well and working hard and understanding the dishes. that is until last night at the end of my shift when the bosses wanted to talk to me. well he basically said that he doesn't think that i have a passion for this and that he doesn't think I'm understanding the food and that I'm not good with paying attention to detail and that I'm not moving fast enough in the kitchen so my question is what are some ways that i can work on that because i thought i was really doing well but i guess not.

 

i just dint understand y he thinks i don't have a passion for this i mean when he asked me where do i wanna go with my career i couldn't really answer him because i don't know i just wanna gain a lot more experience before i even think about trying to move up because i feel like if i want to eventually become a chef then i should know how to do everything that the line cooks can do which i don't think i will be even close to that for years so does that mean i don't have a passion for this?? i mean Ive wanted to do this for a long time and Ive almost had to quit culinary school for financial reasons but i kept telling my self this is your dream and you want this so bad so don't give up.

 

so i would just like some advice from some chefs like what could and should be doing to make this right because I'm not giving up but I'm just a little frustrated and confused

post #2 of 15

Just because he said all those things, doesn't mean it is true. Just because I said that doesn't mean it is not true. Who can say. The truth is probably somewhere in between.

 

In my career (over 37 years), I have not pleased all my bosses, my coworkers, and the diners who have had my food. That is never going to happen.

 

Take what you can from the situation and honestly assess your part in it. Only by acknowledging shortcomings, can we work on correcting them. Use this experience to grow.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #3 of 15

Another thought: How is the restaurant volume?

 

You said 20 seats. How many turns per meal period?

 

There might possibly be an economic or financial reason if the turns are not around 1.5 or greater. Maybe they are looking to cut expenses.

 

In any case, you should have a career outline figured out. Maybe not written down but at least in your mind. Something along the lines of:

  • Lead line cook after, um, 2-3 years
  • Sous Chef in casual/vegan/fine dining (you choose) in another 2-3 years
  • Chef after another 3-5 years
  • Chef/owner after another 2-3 years
  • Transition to chef instructor/consultant after an additional 10 years
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 #4 of 15
Thread Starter 

cheflayne   I see what your saying thats just the first time someone told me anything like that so i was a little taken back and i feel he was trying to give me constuctive critisim but maybe i just need to get tougher skin

 

somedays its slow and somedays its really busy like maybe 12 tickets every hour and its a really popular place hes saying that im not catching on as quick as he would like and im trying really hard because i want this really bad and i actually enjoy working there

 

and i kind of do have a plan

maybe line cook for 3-5 years

then sous chef for 3 years

then chef in 5 years

 

but i dont really know if i have what it takes to be a chef i have a really hard time instructing people and im kind of shy so i have to work on my people skills and being able to take charge but he was just saying oh you dont have like any place specific you want to work or someone that you want to work with or an idea for a restarant that you would like to own one day stuff along the lines of that but he said that i was treating it like just a job and not understanding the food

post #5 of 15

In my opinion you need to go get yourself a job as a prep cook or a fry cook at a really busy kitchen. If you get the prep cook job, work on your knife skills, learn to make soups, etc from scratch, learn to organize a daily/weekly prep list. Learn par levels and to anticipate usage.

 

If you get a fry cook job, just work on being a line cook. Keeping up with the tickets and always looking ahead, making it so your fellow line cooks are never waiting on @(*U&#@ fries!! Once you master all this, move over to grill. Get a job at a busy steakhouse and get your butt kicked for about a year cooking every size and type of steak imaginable perfectly, over and over again.

 

Then move to sautee. Master the art of the sautee and then you can be a sous. Your exec will then learn you on the art of ordering and scheduling.

 

I would say losing the job at a 20 seat vegan place is no big loss really.

 

You have to believe in yourself, or no one else will believe in you.

 

PS Remember waitresses are job perk, go take one out.. make yourself feel better. =)

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

thank you for the advice ashliras yea even though i like working there and I feel that the chef is trying to help me i dont see it as a complete loss and ill take your advice is sous shef just a step up from line cook or are you in charge when the chef isnt there?

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by devon232 View Post

,,, is sous shef just a step up from line cook or are you in charge when the chef isnt there?

Sous Chef, by definition, is the under chef. As such, is in charge in the Chef's absence.

 

Though it distresses me, I have to disagree with Ashliras to a degree, an effective Sous Chef needs to know a great deal about running a kitchen beyond that of cooking, nearly as much as the Chef.Yes, many chefs will mentor a new Sous, but most do not have either the time nor the inclination to train a Sous.

 

If that is your goal, study and learn:

  • Food costing
  • Menu development
  • Personnel management
  • Business accounting
  • Business finance
  • An overview of marketing and advertising

 

on your own time, either on-line, at a local community college, or by a whole lot of reading...

 

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 #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

ok  well im still a long way away from becoming a sous chef so thank you so much for your advice and can start working towards that now

post #9 of 15

IMO, anyone bearing the title of "Chef" is a manager, they may be involved in production, but their main mission is to insure production is occurring in a timely and economical manner while maintaining desired standards and meeting established goals and criteria.

 

In other words, they do not necessarily "do it", they just see to it that "it gets done"!

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 #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

do you think someone that is really quiet could be a chef or would people walk all over them?

post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by devon232 View Post

do you think someone that is really quiet could be a chef or would people walk all over them?

There are probably more "quiet" chefs than loud wink.gif, you  just never hear them.

 

Many times, a simple glance can transmit more information and emotion than the longest stream of *$%*(&^%@$%^&%^*^!

 

The key to being a chef? The ability to know what is going wrong instantly and the quickest and most efficient way to correct it. All else is secondary, IMHO.
 

 

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 #12 of 15
Thread Starter 

thank you everyone for all of your help :)

post #13 of 15

I agree with Chef McCracken...My first job at 14 was under a German Chef who spoke no English. After two years I knew some German and he had mastered about 30 words, but for the most part.. little was spoken in the kitchen. I've been lucky to have only worked under about 5 chefs in my career...but the only name I remember is Chef Mulltoff, 45 years ago..the "quiet" one.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by islandcheferic View Post

I agree with Chef McCracken...My first job at 14 was under a German Chef who spoke no English. After two years I knew some German and he had mastered about 30 words, but for the most part.. little was spoken in the kitchen. I've been lucky to have only worked under about 5 chefs in my career...but the only name I remember is Chef Mulltoff, 45 years ago..the "quiet" one.



It seems so many people want to bounce around from chef to chef, taking little bits of info from each, and working up from there.

 

I'd rather see people use 1 as a mentor and base your career off of that chef, but it's becoming less and less that way.

 

post #15 of 15

To expound on things PeteMcCracken's been saying:  what are you passionate about, with regards to cooking.  What I mean is, not everybody likes everything to do with every kind of food and cooking.  Is vegan food something you're interested in, or was that job just a position you found?  If not, what type of food do you like cooking?  Maybe this is where the perceived 'lack of passion' comes from.  Give some serious thought to why you dream of being a cook or a chef, what you're truly passionate about, and seek that out.

 

As far as the arc of your career:  it's good to have a loose framework, but life hates being tied down to itineraries, in my experience.  In a general sense, yeah, those benchmarks are fine as far as length-of-tenure at different levels.  The other thing I can recommend, is get a diverse set of experience.  I don't just mean ethnicities.  Work in a high-volume, high seat-count restaurant.  Work in a small-scale, slower-paced bistro.  And do some time in a corporate kitchen.  The first will give experience with the pace and sheer volume of food that can be produced, how to work with large teams, and will make you really good at the small section of food you're cooking at any given time.  The second will teach you to focus on details, quality, plating arrangements and (with a decent chef, at least) have the time to explain why these things are the way they are.  The third, corporate kitchen, will grind procedures and systems into your head.  Whether the places you go to after are as open and forceful about them varies, but having it as second nature will greatly help you.  

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