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Dishwashing a good first step?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone, my name is Christopher.  I'm a culinary student at a local college here in Toronto.  I'm coming to this forum today to get some opinions from folks who've had experience in the culinary world.  I'm interested in gaining as much experience as I can about the restaurant industry and have considered getting a job as dishwasher to get started.  I'm wondering if this is a good first step?  My skill level is a bit raw and I personally don't feel like I'm ready to be working as a cook just yet.  Does anyone recommend this approach?  Is there room for me to advance?

 

I'd appreciate any advice I could get on the matter!

 

Thanks,

Christopher

post #2 of 11

No question. Get your work as a dishwasher, have some banter with the cooks, and learn the trade stealth-style. Once you feel ready, move on, preferably to some place other than where you did dishes, and blend in. Do your your job and do it well. That's all there is to it ;-)

post #3 of 11

Welcome to Chef Talk, Christopher. Work hard with your studies; I hope success comes your way. thumb.gif

 

I'm a home cook, but my brother is a trained chef and restaurant owner. He started as a bus-boy in a family restaurant, where he also washed dishes, stocked the larder, etc. He was willing to do all tasks asked of him and worked as hard as he could, learning from everyone. Eventually he went to culinary school. Hozz's advice would be exactly the same as my brother's, based on his success. I've heard it hear from many others over the years here at Chef Talk.

 

Now that you've joined the community, you know being able to contact experienced professionals for their advice is a valuable part of our site. However, don't miss the other features here: cooking articles, reviews of cookbooks and equipment, and many other outstanding reasons that make this the best place on the web to grow your culinary chops. Since we've been here over a decade, you'll do well to use the search tool to check out earlier threads on topics of interest. Just be aware some of discussions may have ended some time ago.

 

What ignited your interest in cooking? Was there a person or event that inspired your interest in food? We hope you'll come here often to learn and to share your experiences as you develop your expertise. 

 

Welcome!

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post #4 of 11

I'll repeat the others' advice except to add that you should let the chef decide what you can or will do. Pick a good quality restaurant in your area and ask to speak directly to the chef. Introduce yourself, let him/her know which hours on which days you can work, you are already in culinary school and are looking to get started on your experience. Chef may start you as a dishwasher, then again, maybe not.  

Don't worry about how you feel about your skill level just yet. You don't have one and the chef will know that. Chef will expect you to do what you are told. Do your best and let the chef make the decisions for now. 

post #5 of 11

All good dishwashers get promoted to cooks.  All you have to do is work fast and correctly, keep a sweat on your brow, don't talk too much, keep it up and pretty soon someone will ask you if you want to "try something new" (promotion).  Personally, I wouldn't talk all too much about wanting to learn to cook - cooks hear it all the time, I'd suggest focusing on being the best dishwasher that place has ever seen.  If you are a good dishwasher you will be moved up to cook weather you want to be or not.  Just keep up fast quality work no matter what you are doing.

post #6 of 11
Working as a kp, kitchen porter will give you an idea of how a kitchen operates. It's probably going to be a bit of a culture shock for you. Working kitchens are harsh places and you need to physically work very hard twelve hours a day five days a week. It's really not a job for the sedative.

but.... it can be very fun and your always learning so opportunities to move up the ladder do occur.

back to your question: yes, that's how I m ended up working as a chef but in my experience chef don't look to train the dish washer/ sink pig /a better idea is to just stick it for a while then start looking for a job as a commis chef.

My advice would be to look for a job as a commis chef straight away. You'll most likely still end up doing plenty dishes anyway.

GOOD LUCK! //
post #7 of 11

I have done a couple dishwashing jobs and I think that definitely it is worth doing for the networking potential.

post #8 of 11
The pot wash is in my opinion the finest school for prospecting chefs. Work hard and make sure you're in the right place at the right time. Over the years I've promoted many of my best chefs from the pot wash who've gone on to become head chefs in their own right.

Choose your restaurant carefully and talk to the head chef about your ambitions and realise you're about to embark on a life consuming obsession. Good luck.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks so much for the replies everyone!  I really appreciate it!

 

In regards to what type of restaurants to target, what do you folks suggest would be the most ideal environment?  Are the certain restaurants I should stay away from?  I'd appreciate any thoughts you could share on that matter!

 

Thanks,

Christopher

post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpap01 View Post

Thanks so much for the replies everyone!  I really appreciate it!

In regards to what type of restaurants to target, what do you folks suggest would be the most ideal environment?  Are the certain restaurants I should stay away from?  I'd appreciate any thoughts you could share on that matter!

Thanks,
Christopher
post #11 of 11
All depends what you're interested in, fine dining, banqueting etc. a good place to start would be a small to medium sized country house hotel, just checkout their reputation for food. Hotels tend to have a variety of cooking styles from snacking menu's, banqueting to a'la carte. This will give you an all round taster. But be prepared to work long shifts. I'm just at the end of a 14 hour grind and looking forward to an even longer stretch tomorrow.
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