So the past five years, I have been working wherever would take me. Which has worked out fine; I've got a good variety of experience; I'm become a very strong line cook. Now I've got the desire to try and experience the higher end of the industry, and I'm not sure how to go about it. I've got my resume ready. I've got my suit clean and pressed (and trust me I clean up pretty well). Where I'm unsure of myself is that I'm about to walk into some really snooty, "fancy-smacy" places. Is it really appropriate to walk right into the front door of these places, introduce yourself, and say that you're interested in employment?
A lot of the answer lies in where you are and what kind of food world you are dealing with.
Things that would work in NY city would be laughed right out of the establishment in the mid-west. Likewise if you're on the west coast versus east coast, every place has a vibe and a 'method' to the madness.
Give us more info and we can likely help you.
Of coarse I was going to go with a suit on. I would for any job I'd ever interview for. Honestly, if the place is fancy enough that every customer would be expected to wear a suit, why would I go in there looking like an embarrassment?
I'm currently employed, and looking for new opportunities. I was working two jobs until recently, I've resigned one so I would have more time to look. Like I said I've been doing whatever was offered to me for the past 5 to 6 years. Right now I'm being careful where I want to apply and will be considering the job offers carefully. I've already got one s
888job; time has proven that I can get a second s*** job in a day or two if I decide; I'm looking for something good and I can keep working my current job as long as necessary until I find it. I'm researching what's in my area and can't really tell you any specific type of cuisine or many specifics yet. I'm sure there will be a few restaurants that interest me and the cuisines will vary. I haven't spent much time in these forums lately, but people who may be familiar with me might know I find French cuisine very charming and will be trying to find it in my area, but it's rare. I'm eager to put myself in a new environment where I can begin learning a lot again, so the cuisine isn't most important.
My biggest concern is walking into a fancy restaurant and introducing myself with my resume would be considered improper. I honestly have no idea. I've never worked in serious fine dining nor has my work schedule the past few years allowed it to be often experienced even as a customer. Some places I worry don't want that witnessed by their customers. But that's an idea in my head that could be 100% fabricated with no foundation.
What is your current location? Many jobs I have applied for and got were done in my chefs uniform either going to or coming home from work. And trust me on this that just because its a fancy French rstrnt out front does not mean anything about operations in the back of the house. Its still just a kitchen and the jobs attraction besides the food will be determined by the chef and team you would be working with. For me this is the main factor in being a good or bad job.
We're going to have to have a better understanding of what it is you do now as a line cook.
For instance......(...and I'm not saying this is you......) some line cooks are really great at opening bags of fries and dumping them into a fryer, or taking a pre-cut, pre-portioned piece of meat and slapping it on a grill, or utilizing pre-made convenience products, yet call themselves line cooks.
When THEY go to try to further their career options THEY are laughed right out of the kitchen.
So you can understand why we ask....
@chefboy: I'm in the metro-detroit area.
You're really telling me nothing new. That happened the first restaurants I applied at in the beginning of my career; it happened when I moved to NY, and I know it will happen when I try to move from where I am now into the high-end. And I really don't understand why you ask. I could go ahead and post my resume but it doesn't really tie into my question.
This place is REEEEAAAAALLLLLYYYYYY nice. So do I go in and go "Hey! I'm Patrick! Is the chef available? I'm interested in employment." or is this considered improper in a snooty luxury restaurant; and maybe it's better to try to get a hold of somebody before hand and make an appointment.
But I'll indulge you:
first crap job ever: Pizza hut. Simply made pizza
second: very well known pizzeria in NY. Made pizza, hand made sauces, pizza dough, lots of saute dishes and pastas, roasts for the deli, hand made mozzarella
third: ruby Tuesday. busy restaurant that keeps me quick on my toes. but like you said, lots of bags and pre-portions meats. I've always had a second job while working here to supplement my income and my experience
Bakery: made about 600+ pizza roles every day as well as a variety of bread loaves. Worked with a little Mexican guy on stimulants. also kept me very quick on my toes.
Sports bar: Did lots of barbecue pork here, and a scheisse ton of sandwiches, and a large variety of prep. This was on the main street of a very wealthy city. Probably the hardest I've worked since I lived in NY.
Edited by pcieluck - 7/12/12 at 9:57am
So what you have done by indulging us (Thanks....) is given us a better understanding of your skills
You have skills that range from prep to baking, to garde manger.
Now......it's up to you to sell those skills to those higher end restaurants.
Sure.......why not walk in with suit and tie, and resume under your arm, and ask to see the Chef.
Be responsible and go there at off times of the day.
Do your homework and check out each place to know all about it BEFORE you go to apply for a job.
Research your options and above all, be honest with yourself as to what you are willing to accept and what you will walk away from.
How can you live in a city and not know what the top restaurants are, what they are doing, who the established chefs are and who is up and coming in the food scene. Part of excelling as a cook is actually enjoying learning/reading/trying and totally immersing yourself in food, new types and techniques. You could become one of those journeymen cooks that only knows dishes and tricks from the places they worked at who become essentially cooking robots or you can develop your own voice and style while learning new stations and techniques. Dosn't Michael Symon have a restaurant in Detroit? If so, thats a good place to try to get into. Just to see how easy it would be, I did 2 mins of research and found one of the top restaurants in Detroit according to Zagat rating and Local Postings. I called saying I was a cook with some kitchen experience interested in expanding my knowledge and if there was any opportunities at their establishment, I was told there actually was an opening and that if I was interested to come in with a resume I could speak with the chef. So, its that easy pal, I got my foot in the door at one of the top restaurants in your area in the span of 5 mins while you are worried about wearing a suit, telling people on here that its not important to know what your work history is (when it is). Now you know that as of 3:45pm on July 12th there is a job opening in a high end restaurant in your city and you could be going there for an interview today if you tried.
I would definately inquire beforehand as to any openings. Maybe mail your resume in advance with a cover letter addressed to the Exec Chef...and tell them you will follow up with a phone call in a few days...and/or a visit so that they can meet you in person...and ask what time would be best for them. It shows you are aware that kitchens are the products of the business at hand and that you take nothing for granted. Certainly manage the time properly and dont show up during peak meal times unless you want to leave with a few less feelings in any case. LOL Be prepared to cook on the fly to show some skills, and offer to do so. For that reason bring your knife and tool kit. Even if they dont want you to cook it will send the message you were intimidated at the thought or possibility of having to do so. And ferfukssake show up with clean hands and finger nails. Damn. I just had a cook come for an interview yesterday that look like they had just change the oil in their car. "Sure...come cook this piece of fish for me" NOT.
How can you live in a city and not know what the top restaurants are, what they are doing, who the established chefs are and who is up and coming in the food scene. Part of excelling as a cook is actually enjoying learning/reading/trying and totally immersing yourself in food, new types and techniques. You could become one of those journeymen cooks that only knows dishes and tricks from the places they worked at who become essentially cooking robots or you can develop your own voice and style while learning new stations and techniques. Dosn't Michael Symon have a restaurant in Detroit? If so, thats a good place to try to get into. Just to see how easy it would be, I did 2 mins of research and found one of the top restaurants in Detroit according to Zagat rating and Local Postings. I called saying I was a cook with some kitchen experience interested in expanding my knowledge and if there was any opportunities at their establishment, I was told there actually was an opening and that if I was interested to come in with a resume I could speak with the chef. So, its that easy pal, I got my foot in the door at one of the top restaurants in your area in the span of 5 mins while you are worried about wearing a suit, telling people on here that its not important to know what your work history is (when it is) and just generally being complacent and annoying. Now you know that as of 3:45pm on July 12th there is a job opening in a high end restaurant in your city and you could be going there for an interview today if you tried.
Symons Restaurant is in Cleveland.
I know that but there is also one in Detroit actually - http://www.roastdetroit.com/
Chef Symon has done several cooking demos ar Detroit's Eastern Market in the time he has been here as well and the next event is right around the corner.
I've been advised not to work at Roast in detroit. Chefross, thank you for your advice. ez13, chefboy may call you brutally honest but I'd say you've assumed way too much. I can assure you im not a "cooking robot" and I know far more tricks and dishes than what i've prepared on someone else's menu.
Didn't say you are a "cooking robot" said you could become one by just accepting whatever was around and not familiarizing yourself with the food scene where you live and in a greater extent the world as a whole. Youve been advised to not work at what seems to be one of the few quality restaurants in your area, where is this advice coming from?
Not to be obtuse but with your experience so far Roast would be a big step up. However any time you take a slot at a place with a Chef that really impact your future you want to make sure you can hang for at least a year or it looks lousy on your resume. Perhaps the best advice any one could give you at this juncture is to stop listening to advice like don't work at place X. Get out there and make that decision for your self. With your current experience you may not have a plethora of offers. If you are apprehensive about working fine dining and don't want to work at Roast for what ever reason that makes that establishment the perfect place to start your search. Force your self out of your comfort zone and remember each interview you get, even if it's not your ideal job should help you interview better in the future. It's a big leap from a sports bar to fine dining so do some practice interviews before you hit up the place you really want to work.
Between the Bar and Ruby Tuesday it sounds like Rochester Hills. IIR there is a RT @ Meadowbrook Village.
OK this may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many folks forget-
When you approach ANYONE or ANYPLACE to ask for a job-smile, offer your handshake and say, "Hello, my name is ________. I'd like to inquire about job openings here."
I get people walking in my place everyday who just walk up and say, "do you have any jobs available?" No introduction, no comment about the place, no handshake-just 'What can I get from you?"
Just remember to introduce yourself at the start.
Yes. Why not? You are an honest real guy looking for work. Look everyone in the face when you talk to them. Have no fear, just be confident and honest. For the guy who told you not to work at Roast ... well ... I'm curious where he works. Roast would probably be the first place I'd walk into. If you feel comfortable in a suit ... wear a suit. If you would be more comfortable looking for a kitchen job wearing a chef's coat ... you know where I'm going with this ... wear a chef's coat. If I were doing the "looking for a job", I'd dress nice casual. I'd have a chef's coat and my work bag in the car. At a number of places I've worked I walked in asking, and half an hour later I was working. Don't be afraid to get a job.
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days. - Ben Franklin
Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days. - Ben Franklin
dont go in a suit. are you looking to audit the kitchen. we are cooks not bankers. good clean clothes no jeans not ball hats. but no suit. and yes cold calling kitchens works at finding jobs. also following up on your search. this lets the chef know that your are interested in the job. but dont be a pest about it. i rate that up there with showing up with a suit on
I found myself in a similar situation a few months ago and the absolute biggest thing that helped me was networking. Keep your eyes and ears open, talk to other culinary professionals, get to know people who work in the business, you'll find that everyone knows someone and eventually realize everyone knows everyone with very few degrees of separation. Knowing what places are hiring and having a good name to put down as a reference goes a long way. If you don't have connections like this, start making them in any way you can and for now, yes, walk into restaurants that you would like to work at, introduce yourself and just go for it, it's not considered rude to apply for a job in any culture I've seen.
and we're back to the... depending on where you live and what the 'scene' is like is how you dress.
wink wink, nudge nudge...
you gotta know where you live?!?!
Simple solution... Email the restaurant and ask when I good time would be to drop by with a resume. Don't wear a suit, dress nicely though.
Even high end kitchens are still kitchens, you'll probably find at least a couple man-children making fart jokes and refusing to shave behind those doors (unless we're talking like three star michelin here). So I wouldn't be worried.
Get a stage, let your work speak for itself.