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Career Advice Plz!

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

I have been in the industry for some years now and I'm really curious as in what to do next or what I should be doing now. (Career Wise). A little back story would probably help out I guess. When I was around 15 I started out in fast food and been interested in the food service industry ever since. I worked at McDonald's for almost 2-3 years and moved on to other fast food restaurants such as Taco Bell and a few others.

 

Later on in life I decided to make the move and go to culinary school. Fascinated by the art and skill involved in cooking I decided to further my education and double major in pastry as well. Currently I am working on getting my bachelors degree in restaurant and hospitality management. As of right now I have an associates degree in culinary and an associates degree in pastry.

 

Here is my dilemma, right out of culinary school I lucked up and got a job working in a nursing facility as a chef and later on became the dietary manager. Due to the diet restrictions I felt a strong lack of skill or knowledge needed to do the job so I decided that it was time to move on and go back to the restaurant industry, so now I'm currently working in a barbecue restaurant in an entry level position, I feel that my talents and my education have gone to waste or not being used. I don't know what to do or what my next move should be...

 

On a side note I have moved up in every job that I have had, in the fast food places I have went from crew to management and moved on. Even when I was in the nursing facility I moved up from chef to dietary manager. I have stayed at most jobs for 2-3 years and have worked out notices in almost all.

 

Any advice or insight would be appreciated. Hopefully I have covered enough to make this easy to answer. Thank you in advance.licklips.gif 

post #2 of 12

Is there a reason why you haven't tried applying at other restaurants? I get the impression the bbq place isn't challenging you enough.

 

Institutional opportunities look good when fresh out of school, but it hardly satisfies the artistic needs that serious cooks and aspiring chefs are in search of. I should know because I worked in a couple, and decided it wasn't for me.

 

If I were you I'd try looking into small local restaurants that serve fresh foods. Work for and with people who love food, not those who only need a job.

 

You're already basically trained, so what you need is to find a place where you can continue to nurture your knowledge and culinary skills. Institutional places are dead-ends, imo. When you work in places like that you only learn to do things their way, and only a limited amount of skills are taught to you, if any. Many cooks there don't even have degrees. It's really not the place to consider anymore if you're hungry to learn everything there is to know in the culinary field.

 

I hope this helps a bit. Good luck.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

I have tried applying at other restaurants, nothing back really but in all fairness I haven't put a lot of time into it as I probably should due mostly to working all the time. Like you said and you are right, the barbecue place isn't really challenging and I find myself getting bored and tired. The lunch rush is a lot of fun but any restaurant rush is fun. But after the rush is over its boring again, nothing to really prep and nothing that uses hardly any skill at all. I have no problem working at mom and pop shops to earn more experience and defining creativity but in all seriousness you know as well as I do those places don't have nearly as much room for advancement and don't pay as much. In culinary school we learned about the mcdonaldization of restaurants which basically means that you train only to do one thing and one thing only so that you are easily replaced. Maybe if there was a perfect restaurant that could have the things you talk about and the pay scale I'm talking about my decision and search wouldn't be that hard. lol. 

 

To add to my first sentences I would like to say that I do get a lot of job offers and emails regarding other places. I'm not trying to be picky but none of those places that contact me really peak my interests. I went to culinary school to get out of fast food and not be trapped in that side of the industry.

 

Reason for mainly posting this thread was because I did just start out at a barbecue place and so far I'm not really liking it, although I do think that I should give it some time I'm just pondering the question (is this the RIGHT choice)? I don't know what to do really I'm working under people that I feel that should be working under me, and no I do not feel as if I'm better than they are just that I feel that I have more knowledge and more experience. I also think that one of the main problems is that I was in management before and now I'm just a crew again and its messing with my physci a lot. How do I get over that? Earlier today as I said I do get offers I received an email and a call from another restaurant that really seemed interested in me and again I'm stuck at a crossroads of what to do. The place that called maybe a little more upscale but in a nutshell its the same type of restaurant so kind of a lateral move I think.

post #4 of 12

But are you looking for experience, or advancement? they are two different things. You won't get advancement in a small mom and pop restaurant, but you will most likely learn culinary skills and techniques that you will never learn in places that have many level positions where you can advance.

 

As far as feeling you have more knowledge and experience than the other coworkers in your current job, well that's just sort of the way it is in the business, we've all been there, and it sucks, but that's where your determination and passion should really kick in to prove your ability and skills are superior than theirs. not saying that one should always work in competition mode either.

 

Not too long ago I worked in a corporate-style establishment that I knew had no advancement, which was fine, I got paid well, and it was a stepping-stone because i had just moved to a new state, but I couldn't get passed the fact that I worked under a disgusting redneck slob, whom I clearly and undoubtedly had more experience than. It ate at me everyday to have to basically dumb myself down so as not to make this person feel insecure, which ended up happening anyway. The more I proved my skills, the more I was thrown under the bus. I don't think I ever worked in a place where I was deliberately oppressed the way I was there. Thank goodness I only worked part-time. They often offered me to accept the fulltime position because I did all the crap work, and kept my head down and my mouth shut. I wasn't stupid though, and always turned it down, and had to even lie about why I was turning it down.

When I later accepted an offer for a chef position at a second job, the environment became passive aggressive, to say the least. At that point I knew i could not work there any longer and quit. So sometimes when you feel you just can't work under people you feel superior to, you just have to leave. Life is too short to work in places that make you miserable. I don't care if it's the food business or not.

If you secretly feel resentment (like I did) working under someone you know you are more talented than, the best thing to do sometimes is to leave and put yourself in a position that will humble you. That's where I am now. Sure, it's harder in many other ways, but you're learning, growing, and honoring yourself and your talent. It just really depends on how badly you want to further yourself in this industry, and how passionately you feel about making the best food possible.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

Reply
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
But are you looking for experience, or advancement?

Probably sounds redundant but both actually. I'm looking to gain experience to advance in this company like I have many other times in the past. No I'm not just working in places to advance and after that move on, although the feeling of accomplishment is very nice. At this moment I'm currently working on the line along side another line cook that clearly has no clue as in what he is doing and yet he is 1st line cook and I'm 2nd or 3rd. My first thought is how did this happen? Secondly, how did this person get sought out over me? My thoughts as of now of whats going on is: I'm very quiet at this place and hardly talk to anybody, reason? I was taught if I don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything. At this point I just want to scream YOUR A ******* IDIOT. So instead I just keep quiet and don't say anything. My thought process on that was I'll just keep my head down and these managers will see the skill and good work that I accomplish. (Hopefully).

 

Typically I'm not a very quiet person nor do I keep my mouth shut as I know that most chefs don't, but I don't want to seem like a know it all or a better than you type. In my last job these kinds of things didn't matter I was hired at a higher level and people I guess had to listen to what I said. I think that has went to my head and now that I'm not really important as many would say I just stay clamped up. I don't know what to do about this and I think that if I could get a grasp then it would work out; I would find my voice and be happier in this move or transition as you could say. I just want to stay lose and comfortable so I can do my work that I was born to do and not let this kind of crap get to me. Just need to figure out how to do that.....

post #6 of 12

The word "advancement" in the food industry is widely open for interpretation. I think the advancement you're describing might be related to larger franchise-style establishments.. I'm not sure, perhaps some of the other members here can help you out on that. I know that unless you're ridiculously talented you won't really advance in small establishments because number one, there is no advancement, and #2 you need to move around a lot to learn a lot. Unless of course you are fortunate enough to work under a brilliant chef who will take you in as their protege.

For me, personally, advancement is not so much literal (as in climbing the ladder of employment level positions) but more of inner advancement in the field, just about learning more. I'm not sure how to explain it. I'm not doing a really good job at it. :/

 

How long have you been in the business, if you don't mind my asking?

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

Reply
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

Reply
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
How long have you been in the business, if you don't mind my asking?

 

I'm sure not as long as you or many others. I have been working in the food industry for almost nine years if you count fast food. (Its food service) lol I'm 24 years old. I know as most say I'm still a baby but all I have ever done is food. I started when I was fifteen working at McDonald's and went from there to Taco Bell then to culinary school. While in culinary school I worked at a bistro and then went on to work in a mom and pop shop that cooked home style food such as chicken and dumplings. Finally I lucked up you could say after culinary school and got a job at a upscale nursing home as the chef, moved up to dietary manager and now I work at a barbecue restaurant.

 

Also I mean the advancement in the same terms as you, I would like to move from line cook to shift lead on to a management position. I feel as if I can't move up in a company then its not a place for me. I also look at places for opportunity, I wanted to take this job so that I could get back into the restaurant industry instead of staying in health care. 

post #8 of 12

Oh I see. I guess it's my bad that I only think of cooking positions in advancement, since it's never even crossed my mind to advance to a managerial position.

 

I think also where I'm stumped about your situation is that I've never worked in a place, and there have been many, where a chef gets promoted to a managerial position, which I assume you mean a non-cooking position. Usually they hire a new manager from the outside for political reasons. Of course, i'm sure there are many jobs that happen, but I'm not really familiar with that sort of advancement.

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

Reply
“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

Reply
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I think also where I'm stumped about your situation is that I've never worked in a place, and there have been many, where a chef gets promoted to a managerial position, which I assume you mean a non-cooking position. Usually they hire a new manager from the outside for political reasons. Of course, i'm sure there are many jobs that happen, but I'm not really familiar with that sort of advancement.

To explain things a little... I was hired at a nursing facility after culinary school to be their chef because at that particular company they were starting what they like to call a fine dinning program, basically so they could charge residents more to stay there. I was hired by the dietary manager I was in charge of the food, ordering and of course the cooks. The dietary manager basically was in charge of the schedule, paper work, and everything else including me. To put in better perspective I was basically the assistant dietary manager with a chef title. After the dietary manager quit I took on the role of dietary manager. I hope that makes sense.

post #10 of 12

Dude, you're still young and have a long career ahead of you. Don't stay somewhere just for money or a title. Go somewhere to learn. Do your best to get in at a GOOD restaurant. Most places will let you stage for a while. Even if you have to wash dishes.........

.....be the best at washing dishes!

I've been a slave to cooking I didn't love for quite some time because of the above-average salary it provided me. Luckily I'm in a position now to go back to working the line in an unbelievable restaurant where I can learn again(after 20+ years in the biz) and constantly be challenged and inspired by those much younger than me. It's a lot less money, but if you're here for the $$$, you're here for the wrong reasons.

Travel.

Learn.

Contribute.

Master that ****

Work as hard as humanly possible no matter the task.

If a day goes by that you don't learn something, you need to find another job.

Challenge yourself as others challenge you.

post #11 of 12

Chefrdollar,

 

   My cooking story is similar to yours. I Started at crap places as a teenager and then went to culinary school and finished my arts and pastry Assoc. I got out of school eager to use my skills and hit a wall. I found that a lot of places don't like smart ass culinary students. I was fired once because my exec Chef told me he would bring me ham tomorrow as he held a raw pork leg in his hand. The next day AM he brought in cold smoked pork leg on the bone and said here. I then asked him politely if he knew what he was doing because this is not correct. I was called in to work on my day off and fired. I was also told by a sous chef once to use rotten food, I refused. He took it out of my hand and threw it in the pan. I said " If you serve that You don't deserve the title of Sous Chef" I was then fired for insubordination. I have since been in the industry for many years and risen through the ranks. Not all restaurants are bad, but ones that really push your talent and creativity are few and far between. I found some cool restaurants in your area, but if there is nothing you like would suggest moving out of Indianapolis. I wanted to travel around the world working and learning but alas I am now married, kid, job,wife's job etc. tied down. If you have the freedom, travel and learn all you can. Take two years and go through Europe and Asia. I was A Navy brat so I grew up moving all over and eating, but not always learning. You should really consider travel, it will hone your skills, expose you to cultures, foods, and people that you never would have imagined. Then come back here to the USA with everything you have learned, ready to take on the Culinary world!
 

post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the insight Ewigleben.

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