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First Job in a professional kitchen, what to expect...

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello All,

 

   I am a longtime cook, meaning at my home and others homes. I'm the guy everyone wants to cook for parties. I have been in sales professionally for most of my adult life and have officially parted wyas with it. Maybe because I wanted a change or maybe just because I looked around one day and saw all the 45 year olds sharing my profession, their lists of problems, and for the lack of a better term, "coulda, woulda, shoulda's."  Frankly I didnt want to see myself there one day. I just turned 31 and have enrolled in culinary school for the Fall where I will be studying under my states "Chef of the Year." Cooking is something that makes me feel alive. I want to start a food truck eventually and possibly a restaurant or two down the road... But wait a second here, I dont want to get ahead of myself. Thats a ways off and a lot of hard work later.

    Here's the thing... It just so happens the same time I decided to part ways with my previous sales life, a friend is opening a restaurant in a trendy part of town and needs some help in the kitchen. The menu is nothing amazing by any means but it is fresh, local, and a good concept for its location. It will be mostly stuffed burgers and truffle fries. That type of place. I have agreed to go onboard and am pretty much diving in head first. I figured to make up for my age gap the best way to get an edge would be culinary school and "real world" simultaneously. However, school doesnt start until the Fall. This is a huge change for me to say the least. Yet, and exciting one.

 

   Thats the background. Heres where I could use some help.

 

   I need to know what to expect. What type of clothing works best? Meaning from an average persons wardrobe until I can get the "real deal" attire. I have a friend that has instructed me to "ChefWear" and I intend to get my gear from there eventually. That said, for right now... What do I "Need" to have. Which shoes are best for the money? A few "do's" and "dont's" would be helpful. I literally found out via a meeting at the restaurant one hour ago that I have the job and start in the am at 10. The grand opening is Friday night. We have a lot of work to do and I dont want to have to ask the other cook there about every little thing. Any helpful insight would be greatly appreciated and put to good use. Cheers and happy eating. Best........ J.

post #2 of 5

I myself am a Culinary Student at present.  I just completed a class this spring called Bistro, where students run a restaurant, completely student run, FOH and BOH.  This is the only experience I have in a commercial kitchen with high volume.  I can tell you to look for shoes that will give you not only support, but that you can have jel inserts (we had 13 hour shifts where we only sat down for 1/2 hour for family meal at noon and before we cleaned for the night at 10pm or so) but also not skid surface.  The kitchen floors can get slippery quick.  As far as the clothes, ChefWear is a good thing.  Just a regular chefs jacket, elastic waist pants (for comfort) and definetly something around your head for sweat, you'll do a ton of that. Oh a 4 way apron is good, you can flip it over to another side if it gets really nasty looking during the day. You will also want a good quality knife kit, chef's knife, filet, pearing, slicing, a good honing steel and a good pair of shears, any other knives you feel you like, but basically that's it.  Make sure they are sharp, believe me, you will know when they start to dull, use your steel often and keep them sharp.  About the only other thing I can think of is a nice insulated cup of some sort with a straw (depending on health codes in your area you might be allowed to keep a cup with a cover and straw on your line if it's placed below the line), you will need to keep hydrated.

Just remember the routine, when you come in, it's sanitize your area, prep, hold you items and prepare for service accordingly and don't forget about sanitation and food prep/holding rules.  You might want to look into that, temp danger zone, holding temps, procedures for storage/holding food.  You don't want a food borne illness to erupt or a health inspector to visit and you're unaware of regulations. 

That's about all I can think of...good luck

post #3 of 5

Expect hell, because that's what working in a kitchen is. I honestly could never see myself starting this career so late, but more power to you.Expect long shifts on your feet, in heat, constant heat. Non-slip shoes with nice support, such as Crocs or Dr. Schoells. 

 

There are a lot of "chef" lines of clothing. Until then some pants and a shirt, an apron, as you will get dirty. Always remember your Mi's. 

Cooking at home or for parties of friends, is very different than cooking in restaurants, even if its 40 friends your cooking for. Keep an open mind because as you will shortly find out, it is a whole different animal.

Quick, clean, quality. 

 

Never forget, you wouldn't be doing this if you didn't want too. 

good luck

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 
I'm a year and a half in and loving it. Have worked I n two great kitchens. Cheers!
post #5 of 5

How did the school work out? Have you gotten your health department certificate?

 

Tell us more!

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