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Fast Tracking in the business

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

What other jobs are available in this business that allow you to work less, make more money, and have benefits? Or is this just a dream? 

 

Personally, I have worked in 4 different restaurants since I started cooking a year ago. I have learned a great deal and everyday I try to learn something new. But since I started cooking a year ago, I am now making "good" money but I am cooking at two places working 14 hrs a day with only Sundays off. I feel a corporate job will give me the benefits I am looking for and I feel a diploma from culinary school will make my resume more attractive when I interview. Also, I want to make Sous chef in the next 2 years, do you think this is more attainable in corporate restaurants rather than chef owned/ private restaurants? I definitely want to make a career in this industry, but I am trying to work smarter not harder. I do not want to be the 30 yr old line cook bitter at himself. I want to be the 30 yr old exec chef. 

 

Excuse the personal rants, and I know I have a TON of more to learn, but I am a chef de partie right now and I am focused and know what I want, I would just like to hear personal examples of career growth some of you have experienced and how they came about. Speaking with one of my chefs we talked about if your local deli offered you 45k a year to make sandwiches would you take it or not? I would say yes in a heartbeat. But we also came to the conclusion that the older we get the more it becomes about your craft, rather than just about the paycheck.

 

is this true?

 

 

Gracias

post #2 of 21
Sous after 3 years is tough... Very tough. Talent and skill can't make up for experience, that's just how it is

Culinary school making your resume more attractive? That's purely dependent on who's reading it. Again, I would side with experience

Also looking at a resume where a person has 4 different restaurants in the last year alone, not attractive either. Stick to one place for at least a year

More money, less hours... And benefits... If you find this magical place, I'd love to know where
Edited by Shootoo - 12/3/12 at 1:47am
post #3 of 21

Sorry but you are not a Chef de Partie with only one year of experience.

It is just a name that some company gave you.

At this point in your career you are just starting out,

and as much as you may not want to hear this,

jobs like the one you are seeking with better hours,

the Sous Chef within 3 years, good benefits, all depends on where you go and your attributes.

There are a lot of places out there that throw around titles without matching the job responsibilities to that title.

When I hear that so and so is a Sous Chef I simply smile and know they are not.

Here's a for instance, and I know this has been repeated many times before on these forums.

The Sous is the Chef's right hand man.

They are as close as a married couple.

The Sous should know everything the Chef knows 

goes out into the kitchen and makes it happen on a daily basis.

How many people with the moniker of Sous can do that?

So, you'll have to forgive me when I hear that a young person made so and so title, as it means nothing

unless there are the skills to go with it.

 

Now, that being said, there is no easy way to what you are seeking.

Again..............it is up to you.

You have to show the people you work for that you can step up to the plate, take responsibility, and work hard.

There is no other way. You will never get  that wonderful job with those benefits and hours you want with out it.

post #4 of 21
First- 4 jobs in a year is horrendous...stay somewhere!
Second - I can't stand the way titles are thrown around. Especially the sous chef title.
post #5 of 21

Wow. I'm not sure which fallacy to explain first.

 "...30 yr old line cook bitter at himself". Do you really think life is over at 30? Do you really think you should or could be a true Executive Chef at 30? 

Much of your post is very telling. Your focus is on pay, benefits and "normal" hours. You and your coworker (not "chef') have decided that later in life it becomes about your craft. You have the entire profession completely backward and I think you may have chosen the wrong career.      

     First, a real Executive Chef is in charge of a large kitchen with a large kitchen staff, these days typically found in high end restaurants, hotels and institutional cooking. You cannot be an Executive Chef if there are only three people in your kitchen. Head cook maybe.  The titles used in the original brigade system are thrown around easily and much mis-applied these days. As the other posters have pointed out, you are not a chef de Partie. Title or no title, with four jobs in a year and only one year of experience, I might be inclined to start you out as a prep cook. 

     You have fallen victim to what I call the Food Network Syndrome. As someone once said, "You want the glory without all the hard work". 

Remember this. It is ALWAYS about your craft. That is what you spend years learning and why you get good jobs with good pay and benefits  eventually, not the other way around. You have one year of experience. You have barely begun learning. A culinary degree will perhaps make you a better candidate for some jobs but a culinary degree will not make you a chef. All the schooling does is introduce you to many of the topics and subjects and skills that you will need to begin developing. These include but are not limited to (and in no particular order);

Back of the house (BOH)

Equipment purchasing and maintenance

Menu development and planning.

Food allergies, dietary concerns

Wines and wine pairings.

Knowledgeable purchasing practices.

Labor relations (Hiring good employees, training and motivating them.)

Food Storage, safety and sanitation practices. 

Proper cooking techniques (stock and sauce making, portion control, proper sautéing, steaming, poaching, baking, roasting, etc.).

Baking and Pastry 

Plating and presentation principles.

Front of the House (FOH)

Food production, presentation.

Proper safety and sanitation.

Labor relations

Wine and wine presentation

Proper serving styles (English, French, Russian, etc.)

Customer relations

Accounting     

 

     You would take a job "in a heartbeat" making sandwiches for $45k a year. If you find a job like that, I would suggest you take it. And let me know where it is so I can apply too. But under no circumstances should you consider yourself anything more glorified than a well paid sandwich maker. We all want good pay and benefits and deserve them. But no matter what career you choose, there will be an expected level of knowledge and expertise and hard work before you begin getting them. You are not there yet. 

post #6 of 21

Well, well, a lot of opinions and useful advice as most times is the case in CT.

 

My tuppence is that time does not always = expertise or even competence. Some professionals (not just chefs) rise to a mediocre plateau, stay there, and are actually happy there, god bless them.

 

Others continue to accept & seek new challenges with relative ease and seem to have "purpose". IMO that usually is due to actually liking what they are doing, coupled with the satisfaction at being "good" at it.

It would seem, that you are not happy with what you are doing.

 

Had a mentor that told me

"Focus at the task at hand, master it, do it well, consistently, and the money will become a perk. IF, you concentrate on the money, you're loosing focus and wasting your own time and energy"

 

Earning (key word) remuneration & acknowledgment for ones efforts is a process, to the point of being an algebraic equation. You are the integer, make it what you want.

 

 

good luck,

 

 

EDG 

"Ars Est Celare Artem"

 

True art, is to conceal art......

 

https://www.instagram.com/smokehouse_84/

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"Ars Est Celare Artem"

 

True art, is to conceal art......

 

https://www.instagram.com/smokehouse_84/

Reply
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 

Shootoo - Thank you. If I should find such a magical place, I will never tell.

 

Chefross - Noted, I have let a title given to me be misinterpreted. 

 

TJ's - I see what you are saying. With the other mentioned posts, I am unaware of the responsibilities of what a Sous does and interpreting them incorrectly.

 

Chefwriter - Had to reread you posts the second time to understand what you mean. After considering what you said and with regards to my first posts, whether I had said line cook or chef de partie, the fact is I have my responsibilities regarding the station(s) I run, I am not arguing with you, but I believe a title in any job holds its own responsibilities without being mentioned. No need for sarcasm, but I will defend my position, station, and work history. I don't watch food network enough to fall underneath any category you heard of. But I am humble enough to know when I am wrong and I know I am not getting my thinking correctly around the concept of working in a kitchen, just from the list you wrote, there is definitely a lot more than what I know of, or think I know of. You're definitely right, now that I am busting my ass I am wanting more for my work with out the hard work and I am not THAT type of individual, maybe just burning myself out a little bit and my thinking is not helping any. Thanks for your post, I had to dissect it a little to get the helpful info from it lol. And please no fallacy was meant towards you or anybody that has/is putting their time in. You have the knowledge and that's the reason why I would ask my question in the first place.

 

 

I recently asked one of my Sous chef, who didn't attend culinary school, whether it was worth it or not (attending culinary or not). His response was if I was in it for the Michelin stars and James Beard awards than to do it. But he asked me what my end goal was in all of this and I said I just want to make good food. So he gave me the advice to read books and get experience and work my way up until I am ready to run my own kitchen. Does this go the same for you all?

 

 

Gracias

post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumRarePlz View Post



I recently asked one of my Sous chef, who didn't attend culinary school, whether it was worth it or not (attending culinary or not). His response was if I was in it for the Michelin stars and James Beard awards than to do it. But he asked me what my end goal was in all of this and I said I just want to make good food. So he gave me the advice to read books and get experience and work my way up until I am ready to run my own kitchen. Does this go the same for you all?


Gracias

I would definitely listen to what he has to say. He knows what he's talking about
post #9 of 21
Thread Starter 

Yea. Makes sense.

post #10 of 21

I agree with ChefRoss, It takes years to learn and you still never learn it all. New things arise every day.. Cooking is the least you have to do or know when you are a Sous or Ex.Chef. . Delegating authority, organization, employee relations ,cost control is very important. Also sometime being in the right place at the right time with the right people helps in your fast track scenerio.

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 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumRarePlz View Post

 

I recently asked one of my Sous chef, who didn't attend culinary school, whether it was worth it or not (attending culinary or not). His response was if I was in it for the Michelin stars and James Beard awards than to do it. But he asked me what my end goal was in all of this and I said I just want to make good food. So he gave me the advice to read books and get experience and work my way up until I am ready to run my own kitchen. Does this go the same for you all?

 

 

Do yourself a favor and ignore this sort of advice. You are asking some one that didn't go to school if it was worth it. Think about that for a minute!  Since they either chose not to go to school or simply couldn't go for what ever reason what other response would you expect from them?

I don't know about any one else but I work to get paid. All that happy, happy feel good stuff with kitchy catch phrases makes for nice sound bytes and opining on the Internet but it doesn't pay the bills. The notion that the average cook is going to match a quality education by reading a few books is in a word...absurd.

Experience takes time and there's no way around that. Experince with the Chef's you want may not be that easy to get!

Going to school is as close as your going to get to fast tracking your career in this field. It will not make you a Chef but for the average student it will save several years getting there and if you don't earn enough to cover the cost of your education in the first ten years you simply failed to do your part. Remember that any given class in any school will have a top 10% and a bottom 10%. They all paid the same tuition. If you are going to invest in your career (a wise move no matter where you go to school) set your mind on being in that top 10% or keep reading books and let us know how well your next potential employer takes it when they ask about your education and you tell them you read a few books.  ;)

Chefross and Chefedb are right. Being in the right place and right time can help and you can never learn every thing or know it all in this business. IMO that's the whole beauty of this insane career.

There's always something more to learn and another Chef to meet. A degree is just another tool, like a knife. If you fail to use it or fail to sharpen it it is of no use. However like any other tool when used properly and fine tuned it's a great thing to have.

 

Best of Luck,

Dave

I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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I think the most wonderful thing in the world is another chef. I'm always excited about learning new things about food.
Paul Prudhomme
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post #12 of 21

Hey there champ, I'm not too sure where you are living, but give my situation a thought.  I live in Vancouver, BC, have been cooking on and off for about 18 years.  I started out working in the city, but now I work at fishing lodges and whatnot.  I make about 10K/month working at this one fishing lodge, and the season lats about 3 months.  I work about 60 hours per week their.  I make about 8K/month working at a heliski operation and the season lasts about 4 moths at 70 hours/week.  I work on a yaucht and get paid about 12K/month and the season lats months.  So, I make about 90K/year for 9 months of work, and I'm not even an amazing chef, I'm good, but no supernova.  The other 3 months is hookers and blow.  Sad, but true.

post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 

Its been a while since I was able to come back and check out some more of the responses. 

 

Duckfat - Great advice. I mean really. From the multitude of chefs I've asked to the articles I've read, your opinion regarding school is very good and insightful. I will definitely think more on it.

 

Stinkyrooster - as Rick James once said " Cocaine is a helluva drug"

 

Here's my current scenario and I would like some insight from you guys. I am currently trying to decide between two job opportunities. One is working with an ex Sous Chef who is now an Exec in a brand new joint about to open. Personally they are great and I am sure If I was to come on board, I would get to work alongside with them and learn on a more personal level since I don't think the kitchen would have so many cooks around. The only thing is that I feel even though this person knows more then me, they're more of a peer then somebody that I can look up to as teacher, if this makes sense.

 

My second option is to work in a high volume joint where there's probably about 10 line cooks just pumping out food, but the new Exec who's about to come in has worked with some stellar chefs and I feel they are more knowledgeable and I could probably learn a lot, but I don't think the personal level I would get at the other place will be found here and instead I'll become another face in the crowd. This, I think, is my biggest concern, since the last job i had I was able to work directly with a great chef who had some much information to pass along but due to various reasons closed his venue and during my stay there I could ask and learn as much in a one on one setting.

 

Gracias

post #14 of 21

If you are looking for the easy way, then you chose wrong business. Become a bookmaker.

CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #15 of 21

MediumRarePlz

 

It seems that your not listening to sound advice

your on the move again.

 

Make that 5 jobs in less than a year and a half

Quote:
Originally Posted by TJsBeer View Post

First- 4 jobs in a year is horrendous...stay somewhere!
 

Find a place with a good Chef and stay with him/her until you can't learn anything else from them and then and only then find another place repeat.....

after a few years you should be on your way to becoming a Sous Chef

post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumRarePlz View Post

 Speaking with one of my chefs we talked about if your local deli offered you 45k a year to make sandwiches would you take it or not? I would say yes in a heartbeat. But we also came to

You want to be the "30 year old exec chef" but you'd take more money to go work at a deli?

 

Yea, i'd say you definitely don't know what you want out of this business, contrary to what you tell yourself.

post #17 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumRarePlz View Post


Here's my current scenario and I would like some insight from you guys. I am currently trying to decide between two job opportunities. One is working with an ex Sous Chef who is now an Exec in a brand new joint about to open. Personally they are great and I am sure If I was to come on board, I would get to work alongside with them and learn on a more personal level since I don't think the kitchen would have so many cooks around. The only thing is that I feel even though this person knows more then me, they're more of a peer then somebody that I can look up to as teacher, if this makes sense.
Why would you think you wouldn't be able to learn here? It takes a simple question to begin the process

I think you're goals are a bit askew though. I used to be like you never alone years ago. Looking to earn more money because of a new job posting you see. You should pick a spot and stay for a minimum of 12 months. You'll be surprised at what you learn and how much more capable you are after doing something for that long. Then you either get a position bump or move on

I can tell you though, finding a spot to work, where you can be friends with the entire staff, have good laughs, and even consider hanging out with them outside the workplace... Is hard to beat. Producing good food with your friends, enjoying what you do, will far outweigh the bigger paycheck
post #18 of 21
Thread Starter 

@ED BUCHANAN - thanks for the input. I should have been a dentist really.

 

@Chef ChrisM - Trust me my intention is not to jump around place to place. Unfortunately the one restaurant I did find that catered to what I wanted closed, so I am back to looking for a place to call home for the next couple of years. Perhaps I worded my question poorly, but in your opinion do you think you can learn as much from a chef in a high volume restaurant where there's a brigade system in place and they want you learn your station and work it, rather than working in a smalller kitchen where as a line cook you have a lot more responsibilities (work more stations, prep your own mise) and work and learn directly from the chef? Kinda my dilemma and I'm trying to figure that one out.

 

@SquirrelRJ - I think you're right. I have my goals but I do not have a plan of action so I seem all out of wack. I hope the more I learn and experience, the better my views onthe industry and personal goals will seem clearer.

 

@Shootoo - I hear ya. I'm definitely looking for more stability, to focus on my foundation but also to work myself up the ranks in a kitchen. 

 

So let me ask you this. In y'alls general opinion...If your goal is to learn in a restaurant kitchen, are the chances of getting more knowledge from your chef better in a smaller kitchen setting or a high volume setting? in your experience what differentiates the two? 

 

 

Gracias

post #19 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumRarePlz View Post

...So let me ask you this. In y'alls general opinion...If your goal is to learn in a restaurant kitchen, are the chances of getting more knowledge from your chef better in a smaller kitchen setting or a high volume setting? in your experience what differentiates the two? 

It depends on your long range goals. What do you want to learn?

 

Though the fundamental skills may be the same, assuming the high volume is not a food assembly operation, the specific skills are rather different.

 

Think hockey versus figure skating. Both are done on ice with ice skates but the skills and training are not completely interchangeable.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumRarePlz View Post

Here's my current scenario and I would like some insight from you guys. I am currently trying to decide between two job opportunities. One is working with an ex Sous Chef who is now an Exec in a brand new joint about to open. Personally they are great and I am sure If I was to come on board, I would get to work alongside with them and learn on a more personal level since I don't think the kitchen would have so many cooks around. The only thing is that I feel even though this person knows more then me, they're more of a peer then somebody that I can look up to as teacher, if this makes sense.

 

My second option is to work in a high volume joint where there's probably about 10 line cooks just pumping out food, but the new Exec who's about to come in has worked with some stellar chefs and I feel they are more knowledgeable and I could probably learn a lot, but I don't think the personal level I would get at the other place will be found here and instead I'll become another face in the crowd. This, I think, is my biggest concern, since the last job i had I was able to work directly with a great chef who had some much information to pass along but due to various reasons closed his venue and during my stay there I could ask and learn as much in a one on one setting.

 

Gracias

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MediumRarePlz View Post

So let me ask you this. In y'alls general opinion...If your goal is to learn in a restaurant kitchen, are the chances of getting more knowledge from your chef better in a smaller kitchen setting or a high volume setting? in your experience what differentiates the two? 

 

 

Gracias

To answer your question with the limited information I have: 

First-  you must consider that you know much more about these two restaurants and the chefs than the forum will ever know by the simple description you provided. Pete is very right in his advice above. What do you want to learn??? 

 

The first restaurant may be a very good opportunity for you.

One - you are friends with the chef. This can be very advantageous to you, for various reasons. 

Two - it's a new restaurant. This can mean that you are not just "another face in the crowd", as you described. I think you'll get a lot of personal attention in this situation and this can be very conducive to learning. You may end up being one of the 'shining stars' at this place right from the start. That can be good for learning the business/financial side of things too (which is very important to advance your career). It can also be very good to get your name out there and get some recognition from your work among the locals (which is also going to be a shot in the arm with your career). On the other hand, it's a new restaurant. Meaning - it may be hard for it to get off the ground, or it may fail miserably. You never know with a new restaurant, unless it's the perfect concept/location/financial backing/leadership, etc... and all the aspects of making the perfect concept that will thrive in your area. But, even then, you never know with a new restaurant.

 

I don't think I need to explain all the reasons you may want to pick the second restaurant. I think the attributes learned there would be obvious enough. Working for a stellar chef, high volume, learning the brigade system, consistency, blah blah blah... Working in this type of restaurant is very good for making your bones the old school way, as most of us here have worked in these types of environments, more or less. You'll learn some very valuable skills here. That's for sure. If you've never worked in this type of environment, you need to! 

 

Frankly, I'm over working in these types of places. I tend to prefer working smaller operations. But, that's my personal opinion and with my various, checkered background. 

 

If I were in the same situation as you (and I have been in similar situations a few times), I think I would pick the first restaurant. Mainly, I like opening new restaurants.  I think there can be more valuable skills learned from opening a new restaurant if you are very involved and pay attention. But, Pete is right in his analogy... What do you want to learn? And what do you know already?

post #21 of 21
I worked several small mom and pop and French after school 30 yrs ago. One of the waiters that I worked with introduced me to the chef at a large restaurant where he was also working.
Three dining rooms seating about 250 & a 1000 seat banquet facility.
I had no experience in anything like that. I got the job on my handshake.
It was the best thing I ever did career wise.
I started out on the lunch broiler spot, learned sautee(24 burners), went to nights, promoted to lead, started learning the banquet side, promoted to banquet sous, etc. moved me around to 2 other operations.
Without that experience, I would not have been able to get some of the other jobs I held later in my career in off site catering making very good money.
In my opinion, both are good. If you already have some decent skills, go with the high volume place, as long as its not heat and eat.
It just may help you later down the road.
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