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Internship at Restaurant

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hi! I'm new to the website and just made an account.  Recently, I have started working in a restaurant as an intern.  This is my first job and first time in a professional kitchen.  The restaurant is new American/fine dining and as a result I have to do things such as peeling chanterelles, taking peas out of their shells, peeling corn, cutting the kernels off, and finally juicing the kernels, and occasionally shucking oysters.  I really like it so far and I am having a lot of fun learning about the restaurant industry and just being surrounded by food for most of the day.  I do however have this constant fear that I am doing all of this prep work too slowly.  The chef never asks me to work faster or anything but I'm just not sure if I'm fast enough and its getting on my nerves.  It takes me about 2 hours to peel corn, cut the kernels off, and juice them.  I need to do this for about 30 pieces of corn, more or less.  Is this too slow?

post #2 of 8

Yes. 

 

Two hours to shuck, cut, and juice seems too long. 

 

But hey, you are an intern, new to the job, so I don't think that anyone expects you to be super fast at this point. You are still learning, which is why your chef isn't giving you too hard a time (yet). 

 

I have a couple of pieces of advice for you. One, get a stopwatch or a timer and time yourself. I know it sounds stupid, but play you vs. the clock everyday, and try to beat your time everyday, or at least every time you do a task. If it took you 2 hours to shuck, cut and juice 1 case of corn, then tomorrow (or the next time you do it) try to do it 5 minutes quicker. 

 

Be critical of yourself...what did I do wrong? Did I have all my mise before I started shucking? Garbage can, landing zone, ice water, coffee, gloves, etc. should all be in place before you start shucking. That way, you don't stop 10 minutes in to get water, or get a hotel pan for your corn, or a cutting board, or whatever. If you are making multiple trips away from your station (to get a cutting board, then to get a chinois, then to get a hotel pan, then to get a lexan, then to get tape, etc) then make a mental note and get all that stuff in one trip tomorrow. I know a lot of cooks that waste a lot of time running back and forth from the walk-in to dry storage, to the dish room, to the walk-in, back to dry storage, etc.

 

Be aware of when you do this and make a note to yourself about it. Think about what you are doing now, what you will be doing in 15 minutes, and then in half and hour, and get all your shit at the same time. "OK, I know I need this and this and this later, so I'll get it all while I am getting my cutting board"

 

Get your juicer set up before hand. Are you juicing in a blender or using an actual juicer? can you juice as you go? Like, have some corn blending/juicing, while you are still cutting it? 

 

Multi tasking is a great way to cut down prep time. Are you cutting mirepoix? Cut enough mirepoix for the day when you do it, not for each task. If you have to, say, braise pork belly and make a sherry sauce, you shouldn't cut mirepoix for both separate, cut them both at the same damn time! I know it sounds simple, but you'd be surprised how many cooks I see cutting shallots or garlic or whatever multiple times a day for different stuff. 

 

The longest project that don't need to be baby sat start first. If you have to clean and juice a case of corn, braise a pork belly, make a gallon of sherry sauce, and peel and blanch a case of peas...which would you do first? 

 

Me, I'd start with the pork belly. I would cut all my mirepoix (for the sauce also), get all my liquids, then work on the pork belly. Sear or not, whatever, but then get it in to the oven ASAP. While I am finishing my belly, I would start sweating the mirepoix for sauce (doing more than one thing at once) and get all my liquids for that. While the pork is braising and the sauce is reducing (and I'm skimming every 10-15 minutes too) I would get some blanching water on and start shucking peas. Once the peas are shucked, I would get all my MEP for corn, an ice bath for the peas, and start shucking corn and blancing peas at the same time. Drop peas...turn around and shuck an ear of corn. Remove peas to ice bath. Drop peas...shuck an ear of corn. Repeat. 

 

But yeah, anyways, the big tricks are multi tasking and organization. You will also naturally increase in speed as you gain comfort and confidence in a kitchen, and you do tasks and they become second nature. 

 

Good luck.

post #3 of 8

I always tell the apprentices "Do it right not fast'' the more you do it the faster you will become automaticaly . If you do it sloppy and it has to be done over, It only takes more time, How cost effective is that?

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 #4 of 8

All very timely advice

post #5 of 8

I'm an unpaid part-time intern at a fine dining establishment and the "Do it right not fast'' is a mantra.  With each new task I'm shown how to do it and given several examples of how it should look. I keep these at the edge of my cutting board in case I need a reference.  If unsure, I ask to have my work checked.  Also, the paid prep cook usually shows me the best and most efficient way to set up the task.  If he doesn't, I ask or figure it out on my own.

 

No one every complained about my speed -no one could ever accuse me of being fast- and I'm now working about twice the pace with cleaner work than when I started.  He's giving me more interesting and complex tasks and some of the line cooks noticed enough to give me less mind numbing work for them.  

 

For less accomplished cooks focusing on speed is a recipe for cutting yourself and putting out poorer quality product.

post #6 of 8

I served an Apprenticship in the early sixties(Yea I am old) but thats the way I learned and I am grateful I learned from the old pro s of the time. The Ex Chef Ernest Meier took a liking to me and taught me and guided me. He by the way represented  the United States in the Culinary Olympics in Lucerne Switzerland in 1955. He was the best and not even a so called celebrity chef. There was no such thing then .

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

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 #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you very much for all the comments.

post #8 of 8

Focus on precision and you will arrive at technique.  Yes, contrary to popular advice here, you should be going faster.  If you do it well, clean, and quickly what happens next? You get a new task.  It sounds like the Chef may be fine having you peel, clean, and juice all day.  So if you want to move on to other tasks and grow the motivation will have to come from within.  

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