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How should I describe my product experience to an employer?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Briefly, I'm a cook and I've been working in food service for about three years (I don't have a culinary degree). In part I owe thanks to cheftalk for advice that helped me land by best gig to date at a country club--full French style brigade! Without culinary background, I've found I'm more comfortable in a small family "diner-style" kitchen. And this is what my question concerns...

 

How can I better describe the food products I've worked with? Is there an official classification in cook resume lingo for the differences between pre-formed hamburger patties versus 1/2 pound from the ground beef log, or 1/2 pound of fresh ground chuck?

 

If not, help me make something up.

When I was in an interview for a local restaurant I was asked about my cooking experience. I replied by explaining my recent grill experience at a "squat and gobble" as mostly hamburgers cooked to 158 for 15 seconds (which is the local health code standard). This chef winced and said, we serve foie gras and we don't cook to those temperatures. Evidently "foie gras" was his code word for ranking his product.

 

I've been thinking about using "squat and gobble", but this would describe any type of restaurant where you don't have table service (from fast food chain to a cafe, to semi-attentive table service, haha). What I'm looking for, and this is where the group can help, are words to further divide squat and gobble.

 

One idea is raw food quality differences. The differences between fast food frozen and cash and carry [1] warehouse food products. Which still leaves room before you get to whomever it is that distributes foie gras and the Kobe beef that goes into a $25 hamburger.

 

Another idea is cooked-to-temperature differences. For example, how often do you feel comfortable asking for a rare hamburger at a dinette? It can be iffy. But that $25 hamburger better be good for it. At a fast food chain there's no issue. That makes three different types of food products, but what can I call them in an interview?

 

Chris

 

[1]: for example, Restaurant Depot. http://www.restaurantdepot.com

post #2 of 16

It's a funny thing, but my buddy Frank at the RD that I'm about to go to right after this post, can/will get you all the Kobe and foie gras that you could want. I'm picking up a bunch of hanger steak. 

 

Think about just speaking plain and normal, in a professional conversational style. Leave out the lingo and just be a real person. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

@IceMan, I'm not get'n down on RD or any cash and carry. I'm sure they can get their hands on whatever you need when every you need it all the time : P

 

I'm just asking a question about how to describe different qualities of food. I'm not looking for wisdom, dad.

 

post #4 of 16

Reading is fundamental ... there is no inclusion of any extra analysis of what is said. I just made a point that the RD by my house can get you what you want. Also, I did answer your question. I'll repeat my self here, slowly, if you need to re-read it: 

 

"Think  about  just  speaking  plain  and  normal,  in  a  professional  conversational  style.  Leave  out  the  lingo  and  just  be  a  real  person."

 

No, I'm not your "dad". Therein is a good thing, for having saved me the time and effort of slapping you for being a smartass. 

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply
post #5 of 16

Thinking about burgers, I would not order a rare one at any establishment, whether it be at a country club or the mom and pop diner down the street.  Ground meat needs to be thoroughly cooked in order to kill any bacteria within the meat and failure to do that could result in someone contracting e-coli, which has the potential to be deadly. 

 

I would stay away from using any kind of lingo when you're talking about your experience with a food product.  Whenever I've been asked what I think of something I will explain it as I see it in conversational terms and I'm honest and fair in what I say.   If it's something I personally dislike I tell whomever is asking me that I really don't like quiche (or whatever) so I might not be the best person to ask and I'll try and be as fair as I can with my assessment and then I tell them what I think. 

 

The thing with using lingo too is it can make you appear to be cocky especially if you are using it in an interview setting.   I would avoid it at all costs until you feel comfortable in your position and even then you might want to avoid it.  I found myself explaining what "the weeds"  were the other day to a guy at work.  He wanted me to help him with what he was doing as it looked to him that I was nearly done my stuff and I told him that I had no one to spare from my department as I was "in the weeds with wrapping" and he had no idea what "in the weeds"  meant.  So I had to explain it to him and it was kind of hard to put it in terms he would understand but I think I did get the idea across to him.  

 

I had it just today that I had to give my opinion on something.   The head chef came to me with a pan of peppers sliced round and asked me what I thought of them.  I told him that I like the look but I need to do a test pizza with them and then I can give him a better answer.  I did two test pizzas and I found the rounds much easier to handle than the diced  and they made the pizzas look fuller and more appealing.  He really liked the way they looked as well so we're going to work on changing to rounds and I have some time with a scale in my future so I can get the weight and size right to go with the specs we have to work within.  Also I found that the rounds made no mess, so that will shave time off of our production cleanup and they were incredibly easy to place so that should help us on our production time.  He noted everything I said and  he'll decide with his boss what we'll do.    What I just typed  is pretty much what I said to the head chef and he respected my opinion and was thankful for me taking the time to test out an idea that will make things in the end go much smoother if it is approved. 
(most likely it will be... all of the other changes he has brought in have been approved... we just have to go through the process because we are a big corporation)

 

My only other suggestion to you would be to ditch any ego you may have.  Ego can be a big downfall and I'm not saying you have it but just beware that it can really hurt you as a cook.

 

Hope this has been of some help....

 

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #6 of 16

I've never heard of 'squat and quabble' before, but I like it. Generally, that segment of the industry is called Quick Service Restaurant/QSR.

post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

I've heard "In the weeds" before and nobody needed to explain it to me. Its sort of self explanatory if you're working at a country club (^_^)

 

I'm surprised my lingo question, and thank you for that label, because that's exactly what my question is about--lingo...I'm surprised my lingo question doesn't get any lingo answers. For my dollar, if you're comfortable with lingo, I think you should use it if it gets a point across faster. I'm not uncomfortable explaining my word-use if someone is unfamiliar with what I'm saying.

 

As far as my ego, I think I have a healthy sense of self. The trouble is I read, a lot, and I'm always thinking about something constantly. On the line is the only time I'm *not* thinking. I posted because I wanted to talk about lingo. The whole interview angle was just the first example of context that popped into my head. Its true, you should have seen the guy's face when I started reciting health code temps to describe the product I've been cooking. I'm sure he understood I was only giving the "correct" answer. As someone without a culinary edumacation I'm not about pretending to talk like a chef. The lingo I'm after is more like restaurant business talk--i.e "a 15 minute chair".

 

And, speaking about hamburger, I was surprised myself by this NYTimes reviewer's *unhorror* at a "less than $10 hamburger" showing some pink:

"...the patty was tall, soft and melting, so pink inside that its juices began to soak the bun at the first bite." [1] Makes me hungry just thinking of it. And never cook a hamburger below 158 @ 15 seconds.

 

Chris

 

 

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[1]: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/22/dining/reviews/shake-shack-struggles-with-inconsistency.html?pagewanted=all

post #8 of 16

I read the article and I was surprised at how off the cuff the reviewer was about the pink patty.   I remember at one time it was perfectly acceptable to order a medium done burger and I have done it myself but sometime between 1988 and now that changed and now burgers are served well done. 

 

The guy I had to explain the weeds to has never worked with food before so there is alot I end up explaining to him.  He's a good worker and has no problems with getting in there and getting the job done. 

 

Lingo does have its place and you have a good point in that sometimes it does speed up the process of getting the job done..

OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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OK ... where am I going?.. and WHY am I in this handbasket??
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post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by xtiansimon View Post

 

 

How can I better describe the food products I've worked with? Is there an official classification in cook resume lingo for the differences between pre-formed hamburger patties versus 1/2 pound from the ground beef log, or 1/2 pound of fresh ground chuck?

 



There are many terms (lingo) that you can use but you can never be sure that the other person will know the same terms or have the same definition.  

 

I would suggest staying away from using lingo to describe what you have done, actually I would shy away from talking too much about what you have done and talk more about what you can and want to do.  

 

If you must use 'lingo' some terms that come to mind are:  frozen pre-portioned, fresh pre-portioned, made in house, ground from primal cuts or scratch.  (ie. don't describe the product but rather describe what you had to do to it or with it)  

 

As for temperatures simply state you cook food to the temperature that the Chef tells you to.   I would find this question rather bizarre if I was asked it... every Chef has a preference and every restaurant has a standard and they are all different.

 

 

Quote:
What I'm looking for, and this is where the group can help, are words to further divide squat and gobble.

Again you're not selling the places you worked at or the product you had to work with.   I've worked at some seriously crappy places and had to utilize some very dodgy product but my resumes have never said anything about them.  My resumes did however state things along the lines of "am able to work under adverse or severe conditions" and "am imaginative and resourceful at cross-utilizing and re-purposing food products".

 

As for dividing squat and gobble - i'm not sure I can help much but here are a few descriptions (please note; I would never use these in a resume or interview).    Dive Bar, Turn and Burn, Greasy Spoon, Trained-Monkey-Menu, Dirty Water Dog Carts, Slurp and Burps, Fast Service Might be Food, Hole in the Wall, Back Alley Joints.

 

As stated before sell yourself and your abilities - leave the past in the past and work towards the future.

 

(Be honest though)

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply
post #10 of 16

""Familiar with al types of scratch food preperation"" AND DON"T use hamburgers as a reference unless you are going to apply at Mickey Ds.Dont say what you have done, state what you can do for them by working both with and for them. IE eliminate waste, increase sales , increase production , cut labor and food cost etc.Good Luck

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...

Reply
post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefedb View Post

""Familiar with all types of scratch food preperation" [...] state what you can do for them by working both with and for them. IE eliminate waste, increase sales , increase production , cut labor and food cost etc.Good Luck


These descriptions sound very much like what one should expect from a chef. However, I'm a cook. My values are working clean, owning my workstation, handle fast pace of a rush (or something like that). What I've been trying to do is leverage my beginnings in dishwashing and my recently passing a civic Food Protection course. I'll say something like, "Working my way up from dish washing, I understand cleanliness is the backbone of the kitchen and the foundation of safe food service." I'm *trying* to pidgeon hole my work to get a job faster. The lingo thing is more an effort to cut to the chase. Get down to business. Stop talking about all the wonderful things I can do, focus on discrete handful of enumerable values. The owner can feel comfortable that I'm not going to be lazy about health code related cleanliness. This is still a depressed economy.

 

Listen. I get it. Every poster is warning me about lingo like they're handing me a handgun. I can use some lingo and still get that funny face from the chef I mentioned earlier. I can also use it so we're both more comfortable. Then he doesn't get confused about where I've been and what I want to do. I'm too old to be running around a celebrity chef at his beck and call--OUI CHEF! haha

post #12 of 16

OK. It seems as though you are all set for what you are looking for. Good luck with that. You're on your way.

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

Reply
post #13 of 16
Thread Starter 

I like the bit about "I cook to whatever temperature the boss/chef tells me to do". It side steps the issue by presenting a different attitude. Rather than trying to quickly get the conversation and understanding of the food product into alignment between myself and a chef or an owner in an interview, this simply communicates the correct attitude, "I can take instructions."

 

I have a lot of opportunity to use lingo. Living in NYC area, I often take public transportation. I know several cooks who also take public transpo and we'll talk about what we're doing.

post #14 of 16

I grind my own beef and patty my own burgers.... Customers can order them rare - burnt... I dont care I have a disclaimer on my menu... You want your burger cooked your way I will do it no matter what.. I would never serve a pre-pattied burger or frozen burger ever in my mind there is no excuse for that.. In the United States people should be able to get a good homeade burger how they want it anywhere... Fresh Ground Meat, Hand Pattied, House Seasoning, Cheese, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion, Pickle, A good hamburger bun that holds up to the Juicy goodness.. and obviously Mayonaise... or ketchup and mustard.. I am sorry but its a staple no excuse for half ass burgers here..

post #15 of 16

IMG_20120131_130812.jpg

Something like this?

Sadly, there are way too many places that can screw up a simple burger.

post #16 of 16

xtiansimon - the reason why we all keep saying things that seem to not help you is because we are trying to point you in the right direction.

 

Here is an example that might make it a bit more clear for you.   Just imagine what answers the following question would get.

 

WannaBeChef -

- Hiya all I just started a new job working in the back of the house at a really busy restaurant, so busy in fact I receive very little direction.   The lead cook asked me to cook off some side bacon yesterday and I obviously messed it all up as he wasn't pleased, I'll spare you the details.   I need to know how long and at what temperature to poach smoked side bacon at, we do it in pig stock and I think it will be going on salads.   Thanks in advance for Times and Temperatures for poaching.  /cheers

 

Hopefully this helps you to see why you're asking for answers to ABC and we keep telling you the rest of the alphabet.

(no patronizing was meant and good god help us all if any regulars actually answer the above!)

 

 

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply
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