ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › Starting as a Sorority Chef
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Starting as a Sorority Chef

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'm starting work as a sorority dinner chef for a big house on the campus. I'm scared to death, but couldn't really pass it up since this is my first cooking job since I've graduated culinary school. I was hired right out of college to be a clinical dietary manager at the company that I was doing my internship with. In this economy you just don't say no to a good job offer even if it's not exactly what you want. Well the company laid me off due to low census and replaced me with the more senior dietary manager from a building that had closed. So here I am getting ready to get back in the kitchen again after three months of paper pushing.

 

 I was chosen out of a large amount of applicants. I'm 46 and graduated the top of my class in culinary school and have my CC with the ACF. I'm pretty confident in the kitchen, but this is what I'm up against.

 

1. The old cook has been there forever and is not allowed to talk to the girls anymore and I'm being asked to keep the communication minimal. They have a sliding window for the chef to serve from the kitchen and the board wants it closed when they are putting food on the steam table.

 

2. There is no cooking with alcohol allowed there and no cooking with peanut products of any kind.

 

3. There is no dating or labeling going on what so ever in the walk in or dry storage. That immediately got me nervous, but not something that can't be remedied once I get a foot hold on the kitchen.

 

4. I've been given the better dinner shift because of my education and credentials. I was told that this old cook wanted this position, but the house manager does not want to give it to her, because she is not all that creative in the kitchen and actually hates to cook. I'm not sure what to make of this situation and I don't want to get caught between anything.

 

5. I've been told that the girls have complained a lot about the food not being healthy and the board has charged the house manager to go in line with what the girls want. How is that going to get done without me asking what they want. Some girl's idea of what's healthy may be another girl's worst nightmare. I think it may be a matter of education, especially if a girl is seen eating all the contents out of a corn tortilla because she fears it may have gluten in it, when it's obvious on the package there are no wheat products in it at all and says gluten free on the label O.o

 

6. The menus are simple and need help. They never use recipes in there and I'm use to coming well prepared.

 

Any words of wisdom regarding this situation would be greatly appreciated. I'm not sure what I'm up against, but it sounds like I'm walking into a bit of a touchy situation and I want to come out on top for once in my life.

 

 


Edited by KKG Chef - 10/7/11 at 11:45pm
post #2 of 15

Prepare yourself accordingly.  The old cook will fight and not except your methods, try and reason with him or her ..Don't come on with that "I am a culinary school grad'' crap., you could learn from everyone here. Try and prepare basic healthy meals that you are at ease and familar with.

     As far as food labeling, rotation and handleing , Thats the law in a public or private  food service facility, they are breaking the law you will not and should not..

    Watch plates when they come back from dining room, see what they eat and what they don't.. Salads of any kind go well with girls and woman, they all try to watch their weights.

  STAY AWAY FROM FOOD HIGH IN CARBS IF POSIBLE.  GOOD LUCK IN YOUR VENTURE

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...

Reply

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...

Reply
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for the tips.

 

 What really bothers me is when people just assume I will act like some know it all culinary grad and tell me my culinary degree is not worth a crap. That makes all the effort I put into my education seem worthless and that's not fair. I hear that a lot from people who have worked in the industry for years but have never gone to culinary school and it makes me angry. I'm just trying to get started, so give me credit for something. I respect people who have worked in the industry for years and know I have a lot to learn from everyone. My brother is a chef that never went to culinary school and he would slam me if I ever behaved like that. It just seems like some culinary grads are going out there creating a bad rap for the more humble of us who just want a chance to get some experience and get started. I'm a talented lady in the kitchen and have prepared some outstanding meals, but I also know that I can learn a lot from anyone I run into in the kitchen. This stigma that's attached to being a Culinary Graduate is really horrible and is going to end up causing a decline in the culinary programs, which is a shame because the instructors at the program I went to are just incredible.

 

I think the other cook is on her way out. I'm constantly hearing smack about her from the manager and I want no part of it. I just want to cook and any tricks she can show me while I'm in the kitchen with her will be graciously received. The house manager has been charged with the task of trying to serve healthier meals and I'm going to work hard to make sure it happens.

 

As far as the food labeling is concerned I'm not sure how to handle it. It's going to be a rough start cause none of their stuff is labeled in the walk in and a I'll have no idea when it arrived. I'm wondering how I should approach that with the house manager.

 

Thanks again for the advice! I will put it into motion.

post #4 of 15

I was a KKG chef for one year.  Things that really made it for the girls:

 

1)  Salad bar.  Always put out a fresh salad bar.

 

2)  Pasta of the day.  Always had a pasta of the day.  2-3oz per person but I always had it.

 

3)  Proteins should be more chicken than anything else.

 

4)  Plan your menus and have everyone know exactly what is being served.  The kids will make decisions on whether or not they want to eat at the house.

 

5)  Despite their dietary concerns, a tray of chocolate chip cookies set out after dinner will be empty in the morning.

 

6)  Taco bar night once a week was very popular.

 

7)  I saved a lot of money by making stuff from scratch.  With the extra budget I got a cappucino machine, the kind that uses the powdered mix.  You can get different flavors.

 

8)  They pretty much drink only skim milk.

 

Also there is nothing you can do to change the behavior of the kids.  The stuff in their refrigerator will be unlabeled, left open, spilled, etc.  Unless you have a closed dining room and snack area you really have no control over that stuff.   Portion out the lunch meats for sandwiches.  Never leave it all in the same container.

post #5 of 15

Maybe, you might like some of the stuff I've posted in the "Vegetarian" threads. One dish I'm thinking of is the stuffed pepper job. You can make any of those dishes with meat with no problemmos at all. 

 

* edit:

Look here: Post #19 of "I hate Vegans........!!!!!"

post #19

http://www.cheftalk.com/t/64208/i-hate-vegans


Edited by IceMan - 10/10/11 at 8:30am
post #6 of 15

The reason that people assume as you state, is that all  of us older guys here  I believe have delt with culinary grads who are like you say" No It Alls". They believe that graduating a culinary arts course gives them some God given right.

     When I used to get some like this, I would tell them go make a Veloute or go filet a red snapper. 95 % could not. So what good was their degree?? This usually shut them up for quite a while till they did learn that they had a long way to go in learning but more important  ATTITUDE.

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...

Reply

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...

Reply
post #7 of 15

Time to get off the pot, and get to work. I could bullsh-t my way into any kitchen, at some point I have to back up all the hype with results.........Play Ball..............ChefBillyB

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 

This is exactly what I'm talking about. I'm just wanting to get started in a kitchen and get some experience. It's a stigma that's attached to to being a culinary grad that is causing people not to even call me for an interview and at least meet me in person, but at least I got this opportunity. 

I never bullshit, but I know plenty who do and you can see them coming with a beacon attached to their forehead. Those are the idiots and egotistical bullies who bullshit their way into a job or a kitchen and they end up burning or ruining half the crap they attempt to create. We had quite a few of these guys in our culinary school and half of them did not even graduate. 

 

 

post #9 of 15

I think you answered your own question as to why people think what they do. Its up to you to prove them wrong.

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...

Reply

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...

Reply
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 

Well, I was made kitchen manager today. The old cook walked off second day in a row leaving me with lunch to cook in an hour and dinner. I was able to crank it out both days and impressed the house Mom and the girls. I made a simple herb baked chicken, mashed taters and a summer squash saute with onion and garlic for dinner. I'm immediately starting a vegetable trim cambro for vegie stock and had the other part time cook start inventory of the freezer. We had to throw a lot of stuff away that was not dated and had freezer burn. All the product in the walk in is now labeled and dated. Now I have to pull together a menu for the next couple weeks and try to use up the product we have in the freezer. 

 

I appreciate all the advice everyone has given me. I'm watching what the girls eat very closely. I'm going to back off the carbs next week and start some working with some vegetarian dishes. We have a salad bar twice daily. I'm also going to work on my Yum sauce and start a Yum Bar in a few weeks!

 

I'm busting my butt, but it's exactly were I want to be right now. 

 

 

 

post #11 of 15

I'm thrilled to read your last post, you are taking charge, and it sounds as though you are making perfect moves in your situation! You sound so positive...I love reading posts like this, seriously.

"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 #12 of 15

Way to go keep it up.

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...

Reply

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...

Reply
post #13 of 15

Hey,

I stumbled upon your post during a late night browsing sesh while waiting for painkillers to kick in so I can sleep (I'm 6 weeks post op from shoulder surgery and still need a little something to get me asleep).  Your posts are a few months old but they intrigue me because I am a sorority chef in NC for a 170 member sorority.  This is my 7th year with them and let me just say that this is the best foodservice gig I have ever had in 25 years in the industry and perhaps the best employer I've ever had hands down.  I'm a 50 year old guy with a college age daughter myself and have been at most times the only male around other than boyfriends and waiters.  I love the energy of the university, the enthusiasm of youth, the fact that they keep me up on pop culture, and the privilege of seeing teenage girls arrive in the chapter and young women graduate.  So if it is a difficult circumstance due to past employee issues or House Corp leadership, just bear in mind every semester will be different, new leaders (both student and adult) will come and go, and the longer you can serve them well and please them with your work the more indispensible you will find yourself becoming. Being their indispensible employee is a good thing!!

 

I have a degree in foodservice management from a major university but not a culinary degree.  I would never assume to compare the work that I do with a chef who does fine dining.  I am very good at making great meals for the ladies and they are always as advertised and ON TIME!!.  Those kinds of things go a long way with a chapter.  That said, I have had in my employ, both in my current position and in other venues, folks with culinary degrees.  Sadly, there are those who enter into the cooking profession without really knowing what they are getting into and without a foundation upon which to build.  I think cooking requires talent as much as education.  You need both.  You can teach a person to play a piano but they may never be more than just okay as a musician if they do not have musical talent.  I think cooking is the same.  I had a high school kid wanting to go to JWU interning in my kitchen one spring along with 2 culinary graduate employees.  That kid had more cooking talent in his little finger than the other two combined. He had a passion, and that is what matters.  And when you combine passion with daily learning, whether structured in a degree program or from whomever you may work (I learn something new from everyone I work with) you can achieve greatness.  I hope that is where you are heading.

 

I would love to trade menus to get new ideas.  I assume there is a way to PM someone and if I can figure it out I'll reach out that way.  Hope the spring is going well for you!!

 

 

post #14 of 15

Trolling the internet to find similar opinions and circumstance...  I realize this thread started more than a year ago, but the similarities are stunning!  I am in my late 40s, a recent graduate of Culinary school, a CC with the ACF, and recently hired as a sorority chef!  I was in marketing for nearly two decades as, that's what the parent thought I should do - now I'm doing what I want to do!

I'm interested to know how it all turned out for you, and if you stuck with it.  I had a rough couple of weeks to start learning what was expected and keeping up with, we don't want food / why is there no food / I don't know what I want etc...  But I couldn't be more appreciative of a M-F, 9-5 job as a Chef!!!

I find salad AND a cooked veg at every meal (lunch and dinner) is mandatory and in agreement with previous posts, grilled chicken breast is the protein of choice.  That said, I agree the girls need guidance on food "fads" - I have one young lady who is super focused on gluten free (she is not celiac), yet last week saw her top her salad with a dozen shrimp, likely not knowing the amount of cholesterol she was ingesting.  Also, on request, I made pizzas for lunch this past Friday and you would have thought Thomas Keller had appeared to make them a gourmet meal!  So, as expressed by others, "healthy" choices go so far...  usually as far as a container of cookie dough.

I sure could use some help in suggestions in keeping up with new menu ideas, portions, menu rotation, and the like.  Glad to find others in a similar boat as myself!

post #15 of 15

I know the thread's been inactive a while, but I thought I'd jump in for anyone else that's looking for answers. If you're looking for ideas on keeping your menu fresh, have a look at our latest blog post to find how our sorority and fraternity chefs do it. 

 

Please PM for a link to our blog

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Food & Cooking
ChefTalk.com › ChefTalk Cooking Forums › Cooking Discussions › Food & Cooking › Starting as a Sorority Chef