I am 20 years old and just moved to LA. I am an actor, but have always had a passion for cooking. I would love to get a job in a restaurant, but I have NO work experience in a kitchen. I love to cook, and always cook at home, but I have no resume. Would it be possible for me to find some crap job in a nice restaurant? I would even love to just help in a good kitchen.... could care less about whether I am payed or not. I just want to learn. Any advise?
How to Get Started
Willing to work for free, welcome to the world of staging! Go knock on any restaurant that you find intrestesting (Italian, French, American Pub, etc.) And say you are looking to stage (pronounced like http://www.pronounceitright.com/pronuncia.php?id_pronuncia=1087 not a theatre stage)
Most good quality restaurants have a program like this, you work for free and usually receive either some form of training or at least free food. Be ware though, if you walk into your local chain restaurant or anything other than fine dining they will probably have a "corporate policy" against this. Need to find the "old schoolers"
"Mother Nature is the true artist, the Chef is merely the technician"
I agree with tux. Alternatively you could apply to be a dishwasher. Though it is not the most glorious of positions it will provide you with knowledge of how a kitchen works if you pay close attention. The place you apply to may even get the dishwashers to do prep. There are a number of chefs, famous and otherwise who got started this way. I started out in a dishpit out of necessity (was living the life of a ski bum and needed some cash) and after that first day I was hooked. The other benefit to busting suds is you get paid. As tux mentioned you do not get paid to stage my friend.
Whatever route you choose, the key is to always be taking mental notes and asking questions. Pay particular attention to how a cook streamlines a process. A good cook is a fast cook and a fast cook is an efficient cook. Said good cook should should also work clean.
DISH PIT! Trust me what you want to do is get a dish job at a nice up class restaurant. Show motivation, show articulation and show an understanding of how things and people should move around the kitchen. The last one may take some time but if you show chefs that you will work your ass off, they'll start handing you recipes and have you start doing small prep stuff - sauces, marinades, rubs, ect. they will kind of casually put more and more work on you as you show that you can handle it and they feel less and less like they want to do it. In order to achieve this relationship with them you will need to go above and beyond all of the other dishwashers, develop a more personal relationship with the cooking staff/get to know them, and ask them if there are things you can help them do. In order to do this you may need to do it more at the beginning of your shift or more at the end.. obviously not in the middle of service when everyone is busy. Take it step by step, but seriously.. I'm twenty years old and two years ago I started working dish at a nice place and this is basically what I did. Today I'm second in command in the same exact kitchen. I did have talent and cooking skills to get where I am now, but it's totally possible.
I would go this route as opposed to a stage because firstly.. you don't get paid. secondly if you aren't on payroll, the kitchen workers will be less inclined to work with you on you technique. If you are on payroll they want you working quicker and more efficient and show you the exact correct ways of doing things.. I could be wrong you may be fortunate enough to find someone to train you while you stage but If someone were doing so in the same kitchen as me I think others would be more inclined to work around you and not with you.
hope i didn't bore anyone to sleep...
Good luck though man, let us know what happens!
I agree with Garret. I picked the nicest restuarant in town and got a job washing dishes, there are always flake in the kitchen, one day the don't show up for work due to sickness or hangover and you may have a new job all of a sudden. I hope you have a trust fund cause you're not going to get paid much plus it really is hard work but it can be very rewarding if you are destined to cook that shouldn't deter you. It's a calling not a job I got out for years but ended up finding my way back on the path again.