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young chef, unsure

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

hello, I am 18 and only just graduated from college and I am the first to admit I know nothing about catering or working in a professional kitchen so when I began my first job in a small hotel I was really exited about working professionally for the first time and I hated every second of it. when I was working with the head chef, he wouldnt stop telling me how much of a failure I was or anything I did he would always tell me how awful it was and told me I would be chewed up and spat out if I were in proper kitchen's and... and I just dont now anymore I tried my hardest to work well in a kitchen and when I worked with the sous chef he said that I was no problem to work with and did really well but I feel like a failure for lasting such a small amount of time in a kitchen and now I wonder if I should be a chef at all, I just dont know what to do?  


so now where before I would think of recipe's or relish the oppertunity of working in a kitchen I feel like I should hang up my knives and give up catering because if it was a nightmare working in that kitchen am I cut out for working in the industry? 

post #2 of 16

Well, first, "young chef" is an oxymoron wink.gif, you may be a young "cook" or a young "trainee", but, IMHO, there is NO graduate of ANY school that may be called a chef (chief), regardless as to the profession!


IF you still aspire to cook and eventually gain the experience to run a production kitchen, be it catering, restaurant, or institutional, you have to understand that you WILL be faced with 5-10 years of climbing the ladder of responsibility BEFORE you can lead a section, let alone a kitchen.


You are at the start of a 40-50 year career and you need to get comfortable with the fact that 20-25% of that time is going to be intense education.

Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
post #3 of 16

Not all people are cut out for this business. Be it male or female you must develop a hard skin. You can't let everything or everyone  bother you. There are many differnt jobs and classifications in this industry, your may not be cooking , but could be in another ares. Good Luck to you

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...


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...

post #4 of 16

You got both hot and cold running feedback at this "small" hotel.


Maybe this is not all you...after all your chef commented about a "proper" kitchen.

Do you think he may feel trapped in a dead end job?

Listen 100% and at the end of the nite, process and return 75%.

Don't give up!

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

My apologies for the spelling error when I say chef I mean a "trainee" or "commis chef" not head chef.  

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

I suppose one of the hundreds of questions I have is, the incident I previously wrote about with that particuler head chef... is he only achetype I can expect from the industry? is there no exception? 

I would hate myself more if someone was holding my hand every 5 seconds but at the same time is this normal to be treated like a dog, to be verbally beaten until any interest or passion for cooking is exstinguished and replaced by a crippling sense of worthlessness and fear.


do you treat your staff like that?    

post #7 of 16

Sounds like he's either a bit of a jerk or it might be his version of "tough love" to see how thick your skin is and if your dedication is worthy of his education. I've been a mentor to many budding students but I'm never demeaning to them. Oh, don't get me wrong I will bark at them if they do bad, or something obviously stupid. But everyone has their own way, it just might not necessarily be a nice way.


You spoke in the past tense, did you quit or get fired? Also, how long did you work there? If you didn't get fired immediately think of it this way, if you really were as bad as head chef was saying you were, you wouldn't be there. The head chef would probably have said next to nothing to you and talked to management to get you out of there. Because having a warm body standing in the kitchen holding things up won't make the head chef (or anyone in the kitchen) happy.


Every kitchen is different, I have been in some that were flat out insanely cramped and busy and they'd go through a new guy every other week. Some brought to tears while getting an ass reaming of their lives by a jerk "head chef". And then there are others that were fun and laid back, one I was in the head chef would put lard on the earpiece of the kitchen phone and call it from his office to see who picks it up (got me on that one the second day) I had a blast there and learned a TON. So if I were you I wouldn't give up just yet, just keep an open mind and a closed mouth and above all don't don't be pretentious, remember you are there to learn the trade not show them how it's done.


Good luck!

post #8 of 16

I agree with the above 100%, Im not sure what you school(assuming you went to some kind of culinary school) told you about working it kitchens, Its demanding, hot, stressful.  Tempers can flair and remember the Chef is ALWAYS right.  If you graduated from culinary school about i belive is somewhere around 75% of all culinary school graduates done work in the restaurant/hospitatlity field 5 years after graduation.  Its not cut out for everyone, Its gut check time, leave your feelings at the door and you either want to do it or not, iv been yelled and screamed at and call a peice of crap american from a french chef.   But i learned more from working there than probally any where else.  If you get through the cook part and get your self into managment it can be very rewarding but the work doesnt stop there.  Good luck, hope it works out for the best for you.

post #9 of 16

It's true for many trades and professions that school doesn't really prepare you for the practical realities and pressures of a real job.  For instance, one of the many things I never learned in law school was how to be a lawyer.  It takes time and practice.  A little extra training and patience from your chef doesn't hurt either.


Unfortunately, your transition was made much worse by a jerk of a boss. 


The most important part of working in a high-pressure kitchen is learning to stay calm, by staying in the present and putting your mistakes behind you.  Don't dwell on them.  They're not who you are, they're something you did wrong while you were still learning and under a lot of pressure -- at least some of which was unnecessary. 


The more you'll do, the better you'll get and the better able you'll be to evaluate your own performance instead of incorporating the judgments of an idiot.  Find a new kitchen and stay with cooking, and once you're comfortable enough to take an objective look at it you can make a decision.


Keep your head down, your knives sharp, your station clean.  Preheat your pans (but not too much).  Learn your seasoning levels.  Learn what food should feel like.  Smell and taste everything before it leaves your station. 


You'll be fine.



post #10 of 16

It's a grueling competitive business, full speed ahead at all times. You need great stamina and can't be thin skinned.

post #11 of 16
It's part of the business and will make you a better cook. Embrace it and learn. The fact that your chef is even bothering to harrass you rather than simply 86ing you is a good sign. Work through the pain and take the abuseband perhaps later he'll recognize you for what you're worth and drop some knowledge oj you. I once used a torch to warm a quenelle scoop rather than a bain marie proper, my chef saw this and hurled a 3rd pan of fondant at me from across the window. Lesson learned. The best kitchens are brutal on rookies because they are investing the effort to try and make you a true threat later in life.
post #12 of 16

Relax. Breathe.    I'm not telling You what to do, I'm telling you what I would do.  Big difference because everyone is gonna hammer me and tell you not to listen.  Oh yeah ... on top of that ... don't worry about that "chef" word.  Everyone here has a vocabulary difficulty and thinks you can only use that word after 50+ years of service.  That doesn't include me though, and I'll get hammered for that too.   If it were me, I would face up the chef, on the side, and ask him why I was being constantly told "... how much of a failure I was or anything I did he would always tell me how awful it was and told me I would be chewed up and spat out if I were in proper kitchens ...".  I'd ask if I was so terrible, then why did I get stuck with him?  I'd ask him to put down the gloves, stop beating me up and maybe just properly train me like he is supposed to.  I'd apologize for whatever it was in the world that gave him such a bad attitude, and ask to be treated like a real person.  I'd then offer to buy the first round of drinks after I cleaned his clock if things didn't change.   Like I said ... that's just me ... I'm funny like that.   I don't believe in treating subordinates poorly because I've got some difficulty up my own shorts. 

post #13 of 16

Young chef first thing you got to know is, do you love it?

If you do, then it will work out.

You must have passion for what you do.

The desire if it is in you will drive your need to cook.

Let passion be your guide.

I cook for family and friends, help in my friends' catering

business part time and do all of his bbq meats and alot

his baked desserts.

No formal training other than Grandmother and my Father

who was a Chef @ Air Force Academy.

Started when I was a child of ten.

Am now 55 and still love it as much.

So get in there and cook up something new!!!

Edited by Bigdaddy Fat - 7/23/12 at 9:00am
post #14 of 16

Loving the idea and loving the reality are very distinct from each other.


Did you hate every second of it because of the constant berating and abuse, or did you dislike the actual work itself?  It's very important to separate the two.


Virtually every cook works for a huge a-hole at some point in their career - sometimes we stick with it because of the knowledge and work experience we're able to gain, and we develop thick skins.  It is a dangerous slope though, because as they say, "S*it rolls downhill", meaning we might go home all pi$$ed off and frustrated from the berating and abuse at the hands of the chef and pass it right along to someone who we're supposed to show love. But I digress, albeit to make an important point.


Don't let a singular experience paint the entire picture for you - you're information at this point is wholly incomplete.  Spend more time with this, experience more, and then you'll be better prepared to make the right decision for yourself.

post #15 of 16
Originally Posted by firecracker0x0 View Post

 told me I would be chewed up and spat out if I were in proper kitchen's and.


1. Get a grip and harden up. You really won't last long if you can't handle verbal abuse in ANY industry. 

2. Look at the words in bold. Apparently, he's not a professional and nothing he does is ''proper'' by any means. 


Maybe you should find this ''proper'' kitchen where people are professionals and act like it instead of a guy with a power tripping ego. 

post #16 of 16
Nope, you aren't cut out for it. Move on.
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