I have spent my short 4 year career cooking in casual style restaurants, and now I have been hired to work the line at the West Chop Club on Martha's Vineyard, any advice for someone who has never worked fine dinning before?
Advice for a line cook getting his first job in a fine dinning kitchen
I'd add that you should be prepared to focus a lot more on your prep work/mise en place and your plating/presentation. Nothing on the rims! You'll probably have a bit more mise to worry about, so make absolutely sure that its all in order before service starts.
Also expect to see more entrees and less ala carte dishes...in other words, an order will generally have standard sides that come with it instead of a customer's choice of say two sides. This generally makes things easier to deal with though.
And learn the menu through and through, particularly for your station, but you should know everything about everything on it. Look at it last thing before you go to sleep and first thing when you wake up. Anything thats not familiar to you, look it up, as well as common ways of making it. Theres tons of info on the internet about everything, so if you aren't familiar with a cooking procedure watch a few videos and read a few articles to get the basics down.
Don't be afraid to ask questions either, but don't ask someone whose obviously busy unless its really urgent. Otherwise save the questions for when they have time to deal with it.
Simple advice. Thank your lucky stars you won't really have any serious responsibility so you can make mistakes and learn. Just keep your head down and work. Focus on what you're doing at all times. Ask questions. And don't freak out. It's a kitchen.
Edited by solsen1985 - 3/29/13 at 10:53pm
It may be a bit late for this response... I found that when I returned to fine dining, being used to working turn-and-burn type places, I needed to slow down a bit when plating. I found that I needed to still work fast when I had a spatula in my hand, but the second I turned around to start plating I needed to tell myself to slow down and take my time while plating so everything looked pretty. That was the biggest difference to me.
That, and learn to have a steady hand while holding the squeeze bottle. But that goes along with my first example.
Keep your knife reaaaaallllly sharp for cutting herbs. Otherwise, they'll get all "crushed" while cutting... and they'll decompose faster too.
Again probably a little late. Show up early and work late. Grew up in this business old school. Chef gave you 60 hours of work each week. You only get paid for 40. How bad do you want it. Sometimes it's about delayed gratification. Early on your CAREER is not an end; but, a means to an end.
Focus on your quality, and ask a lot of questions. Things are much more detailed in fine dining and typically they have a much more detailed way they would like you to do things. If you are in doubt always ask questions. It is better to ask than screw up a whole bunch of prep.
Thanks for all the advice, and the later posts were not too late, the job doesn't start until this weekend. Good advice is always welcome anyways, there's always something new to learn right? And as for your post Jcastle you are entirely right, I always show up early and work as long as they need me too, I'm didn't get into cooking so I could take the easy path haha.