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Institutional cooking

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Should I leave for a more lucrative position as a Hospital Chef?

 

post #2 of 12

Difficult (impossible, actually) to answer without more detail.

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

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"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

I am currently a Resort restaurant chef. I would like to spend more time with my family so I am assuming that a position as a hospital chef would allow me to do that. I said assuming.

 

post #4 of 12

It would likely depend on the size of the Hospital, in a large institution a chef's job is sometimes a purely management job that might be weekdays, 9-5. There are variables too numerous to mention however; is it a kitchen that's cooking from scratch? Is there a requirement for specialized training and/or certification? Hospital food service is very specialized, often one needs training in the various diets and so forth.

 

Here in Canada many hospital food service venues have been privatized, and they don't really have "Chef" positions as such, just fairly low-paid people who are re-therming food that's been trucked in from a central commissary (and I use the term "food" loosely, believe me) and sending it out to the wards. In larger health care facilities  a chef would be concerned more with staffing, inventory, sanitation, (HAACP), WHMIS,  ordering...all that fun stuff. Minimal actual cooking, minimal imagination required. Diet ordering is done by registered dietitians in many Canadian hospitals, not sure what the situation is where you are located.

 

Resort cooking and hospital cooking are very different; in your position I would do a great deal of research before making a decision.

 

 

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply

"The satisfactions of making a good plate of food are surprisingly varied, and only one, and the least important of them, involves eating what you've made" - Bill Buford, Heat

Reply
post #5 of 12

All you have to do is learn a bit about various diets. It's batch cooking at it's easiest. No pressure job. 40 hours

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 12

I went into Contract food service many years ago and never regretted it. Two years before that I worked in a Hospital setting and really enjoyed learning something different. In most cases Hospitals are less busy on the weekends so that's a good to take off, you should see a big difference in your off time with your family...............You get to do what you love, then go and enjoy the people you love, what more can you ask for...............Chefbillyb

post #7 of 12

I left a resort to become a Director of Food Service at a long-term care company and I love every bit of it.  I have weekend offs and spend more time with the family.  I still get to use my skills as we do wine dinners and special events all the time.  I had to get a CDM, CFPP certification as about 20% of my job now involves clinical duties such as charting, care plans and MDS.  I am fortunate to work for a very progressive company that is recruiting chefs from hotels and resorts in an attempt to have the best food in the industry so I have lots of latitude for creativity.  I enjoy my job and have no regrets.

post #8 of 12

I was always leery of Corporate or industrial cooking...now I wouldn't go back to a regular restaurant for twice the money (well...maybe but they would have to match my benefits and hours too and that isn't going to happen). I work mon-fri  6 am to 2 pm have holidays, paid vacation and medical benefits, i got none of that when I was working in country clubs and restaurants. Some of the ingredients are a bit less then what I would like but for the most part it's cooking from scratch and people are happy to eat it.

"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 #9 of 12

I thought of going the route you are taking a couple of times. You would never get a schedule like that in a restaurant. When you are younger, the crazy hrs are fine, but when you are getting long in the tooth, that's a sweet schedule with bennies to boot!

post #10 of 12

Wish I could do it for the hours, pay, and benefits - but my main interest lies in "haute cuisine" (or whatever you'd like to call it) so going down that road just isn't realistic. 

post #11 of 12

It depends on the job. I went to work for a hospital that was trying to hire restaurant chefs to upgrade their food. They said they wanted our experience. Trouble was they didn't want to hear what we had to say, which was that it wasn't going to work. The kitchen was designed when the place was built in the 60s and they only had about 65 beds. They have built on numerous times without upgrading their kitchen. They have the hopital plus two elderly resident wings, not to mention a small cafeteria style restaurant. They serve roughly 300 people or more per meal out of this kitchen. I could go on for hours about the various problems, but the worst was their unrealistic approach to the labor needed to pull this off. It was the most stressful job I ever had, and ultimately I couldn't do it because they had me doing too much by myself and I just didn't have enough hands. I would have to make a main entree, 3 alternate entrees, 3 kinds of vegetables, at least one and sometimes two kinds of soup, make the entrees for the cafe, cook the individual orders that came in from their off-the-menu service, do pureed foods, heat up different kinds of canned soup people requested, fill short orders from the cafe, and if I was really lucky someone would have a baby and I would have to make a "celebration dinner" from a menu that included things like steak and chicken Oscar that we didn't have the ingredients for half the time. Off the menu items could include garavies, so sometimes I would be making 3 different kinds of gravy or boiling noodles for one order of pasta. Not to mention people could request anything they wanted, scrambled eggs at night, certain kind of vegetable because none of the three I had suited their fancy...  All this by myself while management wandered around asking if I had it all done yet. This hospital ran under Sudexo management and I have never seen a bigger mess. They couldn't keep employees and couldn't figure out why. If it is a well run kitchen with realistic management, these types of jobs can be very good with (mostly) stable hours, benefits and decent pay. Just be careful where you go.

post #12 of 12

 I worked in a large hospital in the southern nChicagoland area, for the hourly staff it was a set 40 hr a week schedule unless large catering events came up. For the sous and exec it was mostly meetings and walk throughs while getting fantastic benefits and PTO time out the wha-zoo. As far as specialty diets go its usually set up by the dieticians already but they love to work out new ideas with chefs to raise the bar for patients with constraints. This is about as close as it gets to having a normal schedule as it gets for this industry

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