I have decided that I want to cook for a living and become a part of this lifestyle. Other than my home kitchen, I have zero experience in a professional kitchen or any restaurant kitchen. I currently have my heart set on the International Culinary Center in California (I recently toured the campus and met with staff. It seems like a great place.) and since I am 24 years old and not getting younger I am dead serious about this drastic step in my life. I am fully aware of the high cost and have been trying to get any kind of work in any kitchen that will have me since I feel this is a crucial step before making the final decision and taking out a student loan. This brings me to the dilemma. No restaurant or cafe, chef or owner wants anything to do with me. I have even offered to work for free, wash dishes, whatever I can to get a feel and experience. They all say they are only hiring people with experience. So my question is this: How am I supposed to gain experience (there are NO APPRENTICESHIPS for the inexperienced in Southern California) outside of going to culinary school?
There are jobs out there
A quick look at LA craigslist revealed about 120 jobs just today. Granted that not all of them are kitchen jobs and that some require experience, but I have been in this industry long enough to know that there are jobs available for someone such as yourself. I had no experience when I got my first restaurant job. I can't imagine anyone getting around the irrefutable truth that there can't be a second job, without a first job. We all started at some point.
When I hire, experience is nice, but attitude is higher on my desirability list. I can teach kitchen skills and help someone gain experience., but I can't change basic personality traits and character. That is set long before a potential job candidate walks in for their interview. I know that I am not alone on feeling like this, plenty of other chef share the same views on hiring. We are out there. Don't be discouraged. Keep looking.
In this country the average work day is considered 8 hours. The average work week 40 hours. Pound the pavement for 8 hours a days and 40 hours a week. Go into any and all restaurants that you can find whether they are advertising positions or not. Ask to speak to the chef. If you get to speak to the chef say that you are looking for prep cook position. If it is not a convenient time for the chef, ask at what time should you return.
Do this and you will get a job.
Thanks for the reply. I will continue on and have even applied to In N Out. I figure anywhere involved with food, even fast food, will prove helpful. I feel that I have shown an outgoing and serious attitude and the chef of an Italian Trattoria seemed willing to give me a shot. He saw how passionate I was but told me that he does not have the time to take a gamble on me, even at the lowest level and even willing to work for free,
all due to me not having any prior work experience in a kitchen. It also seemed that he was fully staffed, which seemed the same at a lot of the other locations that I have visited.
Even regular mom and pop restaurants told me they require work experience and a resume proving so to even consider giving me a shot. Trust me when I say that I have been up and down, from a hotel restaurant to a regular diner. I keep getting the same answer. Majority of these places wouldn't even let me speak to the chef or head cook of the kitchen. I have also scanned craigslist and the job listings that I have viewed are in need of someone with experience. But I will keep my head up and keep on soldiering on.
This is a high turnover industry. What was true on the day you were there can change in a heart beat. Also return visits show a desire to work and can creakily open doors. Don't worry about being a pain in the ass, I am sure chef will let know when that is the case. Besides what is the worst that can happen, that he won't hire you?
Experienced prep, pantry, and dish people usually are not looking for those jobs. When they apply for jobs, they are looking to move up in position. So ergo someone fills those positions and believe me when I say it is usually someone with no experience.
A lot of times it is all about being in the right place at the right time. When a chef has guests lining up at the door and tickets already flying into the kitchen and his prep cook has no showed; all the experience he is interested in, is the guy at the back door asking about a job.
Well I have kept at it. Filled out an application and turned it in personally to the manager at Denny's. Also waiting to hear back on others. The majority told me their are no openings or no work available. I am lucky enough to have a part time warehouse job right now but I really want to get in a kitchen for experience rather than money. After all, I want to cook for a living, not load boxes in a cancer infested warehouse. I am wondering if it would be a wiser investment to travel to another country that may offer an apprenticeship as opposed to culinary school (which may be a long shot in the way the world economy is going down the toilet). Thanks for the feedback and anymore words of wisdom are always appreciated.