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Career advice

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone,

I am a young chef (24), 2 years experience, no culinary education. After one year traveling I decided to quit university and become a chef because cooking and food are my passion.


I was very lucky and spent my first year in a small Italian restaurant, serving quite good food, one of the best in my country. However, the place was quite small, so there was just one chef and one assistant plus dishwasher. Started as a dishwasher and worked my way up to chefs assistant. The chef and the owner is a great guy, but he never really showed much effort in teaching me something. I had to ask for everything or just watch him and learn from that, he did many things alone, without giving me the possibility to learn something.


After that I was lucky again and got a job as a commis chef in local top Asian restaurant, spent there about six months and learned the proper way of working in a professional kitchen with different stations and 5 chefs. I learned there so much! The work was hard, but everyday I could learn something new, how to be better... That was great. I left this place because the owner didnt like me and I couldnt stand his yelling, slave salary and working hours. After that I got a few other good experiences in catering for weddings or private events, cooking outside at farmers markets, working under a great chef, but that was just a seasonal thing.


I live in a country (Czech republic) where the gastronomy situation is quite bad and it will take a long time to change the people and restaurants and chefs. Even though I live in a capital city, there are not many job opportunities (actually - none, they hire only at McDonalds). So I am thinking about going probably to UK (it's close, I speak English, they have interesting culinary scene, I dont need any special visa) and trying my luck there. I have passion for cooking, am not lazy, I can work hard, under pressure, I have good knife skills, I am just missing the experience, even though I did manage to run a stations on my own, I need to learn more...


Basically I would like to find a job in a restaurant doing some simple honest food, where I can work and LEARN from other chefs, but also have my own responsibility. I am actually willing to work for free for some time, if that is necessary for my training (and because my lack of experience), I am just not very sure if someone is going to appreciate this and take this as a plus, I dont want to look like totally desperate when saying this at some interview.


What do you think, do I have a chance, or can you give me any advice? :)

post #2 of 8

Hello, and welcome to the family of loving, hard-working, and dysfunctional hospitality workers rollsmile.gif


If you have the resources, I would recommend researching the jobs available to you before actually moving. A little difficult since you won't be able to meet anyone in person (unless you make a special trip out and maybe spend a couple days doing so) but it will give you a head start and a slight advantage. There's a lot to consider (especially if you're moving to a different country) like type of establishment, type of cuisine you want to work with, location, compensation, will it be accessible to your new home, etc. Maybe someone that lives in the UK can offer some advice specific to the region as well...


Do not worry too much about lack of culinary education, as most will favor experience. You are indeed a young cook with only 2 years under your belt, so keep in mind you might run into some difficulty finding a job. Put together a solid resume and neatly present your past experiences like the ones you shared in your post, highlighting your positions and job duties. It never hurts to also find references that'll put in a good word for you as well.


Initially working for free to prove your worth is not desperate, and is actually a common practice in this industry. Known as a stage, you can either offer, or you will be asked to work a service so that the potential employer can see you in action, that you have the necessary skill set, and that you get along with the other co-workers and are team-oriented. You'll soon discover the more higher-end, more sought out establishments to work at as a chef/cook will ask you to do this. This can be taken a step further as an internship, when you'll have to work an extended amount of time with no pay before an employer is convinced to hire you as a paid employee.


Good luck in your search, as it sounds like you have the motivation to seek out better opportunity. Never been to Czech Republic, but I have a feeling I would be too tempted by all the hot women walking around to not leave surprised.gif

'A fool can't act the wise, but the wise can act a fool...' - Kweli


'A fool can't act the wise, but the wise can act a fool...' - Kweli

post #3 of 8
The UK is not a bad idea at all. Another thought may be to look at the Nordic countries, at least for the summer. In Sweden right now there are a lot of jobs at the summer areas that run for 5 to 6 months in both the Baltic and west coast as well as in the south. English is not a problem in the restaurants here since there are a lot of people travel working here plus a parge amount of imagrants. Check the webpage and change the language to English, you may come up with something useful. Feel free to pm me with any questions, and yes I will be looking for some summer people in april., Prague is beautiful and i concur junglust the women are smokin.
post #4 of 8

Do you speak and German at all?

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you chefs, this is the encouragement I needed :)

post #6 of 8

I think you have a good chance and to say from experience you are very lucky to have a eu passport. i have spent the last 3 years trying to move to europe to work so you have al little bit of a heads up. i think the more you can work and travel the better off you are. most restaurants will invite you in for a try out and in this case i think your skills are much more important than a certificate that you have from a school. in my experience every restaurant/chef does things in their own way and you will have to learn this regardless. good luck! 

post #7 of 8

also as mentioned above look into the scandinavian countries for the summer season. 

post #8 of 8
Young chef with 2 years experience become a cook first......
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