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I think Inhate line cooking.

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I started culinary school in January, and started working as a line/prep cook in a fusion restaurant about two months ago. I love cooking and I love food, but I despise being on the line. It's got me wondering if i really want to do this as a profession. I feel like I'm under constant stress and pressure from not only the chef of the restaurant, but the ownership and management and even myself. It's sucked the life out of me completely. I dread going to work, I dread the sound of the printer going off, it sucks because my attitude is wrong for sure, but I just can't help the way I feel about work. Is this normal for someone starting out in the industry? Or am I just in the wrong business? I was so excited to start down this path, but now I feel completely defeated and miserable. Just looking for a little guidance, thanks.
post #2 of 17

Sorry to break it to you but you are in the wrong line of business. You should have gotten a job working a line before even putting pen to application form for that school. Unfortunately this is going to be a costly life lesson for you.

Apprentichef - Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.

 

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Apprentichef - Six stitches to go home early and you can't die until your shift is over.

 

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post #3 of 17

Just because you don't like line cooking doesn't mean that you won't enjoy working in some other cooking environment.

post #4 of 17

Restaurants are probably not going to be for you.  Luckily there are a ton of other jobs out there in the culinary field.

 

 

You should stay online for a couple of years even if you hate it though as the experience will definitely help you when you move into another area of the culinary field.

 

Catering/production cook/personal chef/foodwriter etc are all other areas that may suit you better.

post #5 of 17
It might be because you are so new and are in a situation you aren't ready for.Stay with it for the summer and see if you enjoy it more once you have a bit more experience. When September comes and you still hate it then restaurants aren't for you but as rdm magic and Twyst said there are a lot more oppuntunities and some of them like large hotels,universities,prisons,and hospitals offer better hours,pay,and benefits.If I can work on the line for a few hours it's my favourite part of the day and I think a lot of chefs on here will agree.The reason restaurants might not be for you is that the non line jobs tend not to pay as well and when/if you become a chef and can't do the line then you won't be able to train or plan menus properly.Being a line cook is in my opinion the most important job in a restaurant kitchen if not the entire restaurant . It is a rough job and a lot if people simply can't do it but it's very rewarding for those that excel at it and still enjoy it.I used to love when the server told us the customer said"compliments to the chef" and we'd say something like " we'd tell him but I don't think there is any cell coverage at the lake".Anyway,I guess my point is stick with it for a while and if it's not for you then try something else.
post #6 of 17

I'm the 'Don't give up just yet' camp. There's a lot of different types of places that you may enjoy cooking at. While rbrad ^ says "Large hotels,  universities, prisons and hospitals", I think that's a bad example. Personally, I'd hate working at any of those types of places. I shudder just thinking about those jobs. My manager at my current place has always said she'd never be a line cook again. And she is a great cook. Me, I tend to gravitate towards smaller kitchens, always. I don't really like working in a large kitchen with several stations. Too many variables involved and typically it's for very little pay, IMO.

 

I get the feeling you may just be a loner like me...

 

Just to give you an example of some of the places I've worked in the past...

3 different golf course cafe's or restaurants. Typically these will have a line for 1 person or 2 when it's busy. The current one I'm at now (I've worked here off and on for the past 6 years, I tend to keep coming back) has a really nice line, clean kitchen and a medium sized banquet room that keeps us busy.

 

I recently worked at a country club with a smaller line, for 2 people, or 2 and a wheelman when it's busy. Plus, a garde manger and separate large prep kitchen area for banquets. While this was definitely more in line with "hardcore line cooking", it was still small enough for me to be within my comfort zone. 

 

I worked at a small french restaurant at a ski resort. We would only have 2 people on the line there. I was originally hired as breakfast cook there and I was the only one on the line in the mornings. 

 

I owned a food truck too......

 

I've worked at a small diner where I was the only cook. But it was crazy to have only 1 there. I worked at an italian restaurant where there were 2 or 3 people on the line. I more-or-less enjoyed that job. And I've had a few other breakfast cook jobs where I was alone. Get the point?...

post #7 of 17

Agreed.  You should find a different line of work.
 

post #8 of 17

Not sure if this will help, but here it is.  I've had a thousand nights where if that printer goes off one more time I may or may not get homicidal.  The stress, the attitude, the hotheadedness- it's all par for the course.  All jokes aside, the job I have now, the first two months, I left every shift with swollen and clawed hands.  It kicked my butt every single damn day, to the point of me not being able to not remember a time before said butt kicking.  Either you push past it, repeatedly, and walk out at the end of the every night feeling like you've won, and cramming in a few hours sleep before you go back in the morning -because you want to- or you go home.  You have to be insane, and you have to love it.  People in prison don't work this hard.  And they have better cell phones.     
 

post #9 of 17

Two months is not a very long to grasp the complexity of being a line pro. Cut yourself some slack. It is not easy. it is hard and challenging, but nothing beats the feeling when the time comes that you handle a tough service and you realize "damn, I owned that". It doesn't happen overnight, but with perseverance it does come.

 

Not everyone is cut out for the line, but to me, two months seems like a short time to come to that decision about yourself.  I get much more satisfaction from rising to difficult challenges, than I do from things that are handed to me.

 

" Nothing builds self-esteem and self- confidence like accomplishment " Quote from Thomas Carlye

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #10 of 17

It could just be the restaurant you are working at.  I've only got a few years experience, but I started at a restaurant that I enjoyed working at and then took a job at a very good restaurant that made me feel pretty much how you feel.  Even after a few weeks I hated it and it killed the passion I once had so I began looking for jobs outside of the restaurant industry and was about to change careers completely.  I didn't stay there very long, and while looking for jobs in other fields, I decided to take a job in another restaurant until I found what I wanted to do.  I'm still at that restaurant, very happy with what I do, and plan to continue down my culinary career path.  Even though the work is mostly the same, the environment can make a huge difference.  It might not be a bad idea to try another restaurant before you give up on your passion.

post #11 of 17

I don't know, I've worked in tough restaurants (jobs I really hated) and still never questioned my career choice as a whole, just wanted to get the eff out of that  place.. As Vic suggests, I would try out a few other culinary fields before throwing in the towel. You might enjoy catering, it's less demanding and stressful. I'll give you an example: I used to work for a catering company called M____ Food about 20 years ago, and the location was just a kitchen, no service, just a rented kitchen space on a street, and there were perhaps 7-10 kitchen staff members, all chefs except for the dishwasher, and the management upstairs. They used to cater HUGE events, like the the central park zoo, the Roxy, The Whitney museum, upscale clients on park ave. like big 700 guests events, we'd spend days and days prepping food in the kitchen, but it was a uber-relaxed atmosphere because we were just prepping for upcoming events, there was no line, and no customers demanding their food right then and there. Sure, on event days it was CRAZY!! but in the most coolest fantastic way on earth. We'd be loading all the food on trucks on a nice warm sunny morning, before all the city craziness began, going back and forth from kitchen to location, setting up at location, making sure everything looked perfect, the food stayed warm, and waitstaff were organized.When the party was over, we partied, ate, drank. it was a blast. Sometimes we'd get tipped $100.00

Seriously, dream.job.

 

Of course, that was in Manhattan, very long time ago, and too bad the company went out of business because after a while they couldn't get new people to work for them because they had a rep of not wanting to pay employees, and the owner was such a B! I believed they were sued. It got so bad with retaliation they started requiring you sent in a head shot with your resume, i kid you not. They wanted to make sure you never worked there before and tried a fast one, since they payed some of the employees off the books.

 

ahhh life in the food business. There should be a catering reality show. There's a fashion show on netflix called Kell on Earth, and i swear it reminds me so much of that job.

“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 #12 of 17

i started cooking about a year and a half ago, and have been working my way from prep to lunch to dinner line cooking, and sometimes i want to throw that little printer across the room, tossing full plate frisbee style out the window and walking off. Like it has been said before, nothing beats owning a night, especially where you thought you weren't at your best, and then your higher ups tell you you did a great job and you realize you actually were on point. Looking forward to many more of those nights.

post #13 of 17
I've been cooking for about 10 years, mostly in restaurant And hotels.
My suggestion would be to suck it up... You get paid to cook food. Get some experience, then find an institution to work for, like... Prisons, schools, independent living, hospitals. Places like that don't have tickets and you know what you have to do everyday
post #14 of 17

You might want do some more research regarding other opportunities in the Food Industry. Here are the names of some of the largest multi-national businesses involved in Food Service.

 

Aramark       Compass Group     Sodexo

 

They manage food services in all sorts of facilities around the globe.  They all have a remote sites division as well.  

 

Remotes sites include military facilities, mining operations, offshore drilling, drilling rig camps and huge facilities for remote construction of all kinds including the huge tar sands operations in northern Alberta, Canada at  Fort McMurry. Here's a little more info on one aspect of this part of the industry.

 

 A 'normal'  drilling rig would have a permanent crew of about 20 people.  The Oil co. engineer, a geologist, the drill rig manager. and 2 crews of between 5 to 7 people each.

(Driller, Derrick hand, motor man, 2 roughnecks, and 1-2 leasehands) as well as at times ....a water hauler, a sump truck hauler, a cat operator, mud man plus the 3 person camp staff.

 

For this size of operation the management of this remote camp in in the hands of the CAMP COOK or First Cook. Cook will have a cooks helper or Second cook and then there is the Camp Attendent.

 

First Cook does all the meals - breakfast, lunch and supper. Breakfast - 7 am, lunch 12 noon, supper 5 pm.  Food service is 1 hour long. If organized you would start at 6 am and finish at 6:30 pm - taking 21/2 hours off during the day. If disorganized you sure can work 12 -13 hours a day with no problem.  You will however only get paid for 10 hours.  You will work 7 days a week for either a 2 week in, 1 week off rotation or 3 and one or in some cases all sorts of weird combinations such as 24 days in 4 off.  You will make a lot of money.  You will live in camp in your own private room with TV and internet service.  You will meet lots of really cool people.  You do not pay for your food and accommodation.  You will have a really super kitchen with a steam table to serve your hot meals in .  Standard supper is 1 soup, 2 proteins, 2 starches 2 veg and any sauces or gravies that go with the meal.  Lunch is lighter fare - eg. tomato soup, grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta and sauce. Breakfast - every thing in steam table for 7 am - sausage, bacon, ham, potatoes, boiled eggs, scrambled egg, porridge, muffins and then they can order any other kind of eggs - poached, omelets, basted etc - but most don't.  You will also do all of your own baking ie: buns, cakes, cookies, pies, squares, jello, puddings etc.  You will have mixes for pancakes, cakes, brownies, puddings etc..  You will send a new grocery order back with the truck that comes once a week with your groceries - some camps its by helicopter.  If you forget something...too bad - you will have to wait till next week.  If it is something really important like the catering co. simply did not send something ...like bacon or ice cream.... the rig manager may geton the phone and have a helicopter fly in from the closest town with just those items and then send the catering company the bill.  Mostly they don't forget.  No one will give you a menu - you will design your own.  This is where you can be as creative as you like.  If they don't like your food they will replace you...quickly.

 

Second Cook or cooks helper - is a multi purpose job - cleaning the dining tables , doing all the dishes (by hand) and all prep that the first cook needs (potatoes, vegetables etc) as well as all salads (small salad bar)  You pretty much make & decorate you salads & platters - cook may request a specific main salad to accompany a meal such as cole slaw with chicken or caesar salad with steak. You will be responsible for a great deal of the cleaning - fridges, storeroom - but you will not have to clean the ovens or flat top (grill) the first cook does that.  You can be pretty creative.

 

Camp attendant looks after all the bedrooms, laundry, hallways, public areas, recreation room, and the kitchen and dining room floors and garbage.  Also unloads grocery truck weekly and helps cooks put away groceries.

 

The larger the camp the more staff - usually when a camp reaches 40 people now there will be a baker as well - he/she will work at night and prep for breakfast.  As the camp gets larger of course the kitchen get larger and so does the number of staff.  You may have an executive chef, Head chef, 2 or 3 Chefs, 2 night bakers, breakfast cooks, 4-5 2nd  cooks, 3-4 dishwashers (dish pit and machines), general help that  cleans up tables and the entire dining areas and kitchens. a fast food bar with 2 cooks for those that like hamburgers, chips & hot dogs, chili, tacos etc.

 

Advice : start as a cooks helper.....for a least a month ...no matter how much you know about food .....learn all the quirks and keep your ears open from the safe vantage point ...

all 3 of these companies have jobs all over the world - if young you can travel - totally cool and fun --this is the best in food & cooking - creative - great PAY - great people - no stress

 

Hope this gives you some more ideas - by the way I still hate Line Cooking......always will ...can do - no problem - but no likey........I love remote location food service - last camp I was in was 1800 man - but love the small drilling camps & construction - people are great !!!!!!!

post #15 of 17

Here is a few photos to give you an idea...

.

This is a typical drilling rig - this is Precision 511

 

This is a typical kitchen for a 20 person drilling camp

 

This is the typical dining room in a 20 person camp

 

 

This is a normal staff room in camp                                                       Extra help is is always good - peeling potatoes 101

Goofing off after work - she was imitating a construction

working 

 

 

Sample supper salads next to steam table on left

post #16 of 17

I support Chef Vic's perspective. There are many opportunities available. For myself I enjoy line work, but am limited by my stature 6' 8"/ 260 lbs..It's hard to dance sometimes, in the fray or set up of the line. My Exec. Chef acknowledged my skill set, and encouraged/redirected me towards catering, banquets, institutional and small group/personal venues. I continue to thrive, learn and advance my skills/techniques. I encourage you to find a job that is " right sized " for your skill set, goals and passion.
 

post #17 of 17

Panda, I understand your perspective. I work in an upscale retirement community and I LOVE it. It is completely different from a restaurant in that the intense portions of service are limited to 45 min to an hour for each meal rather than hours on end. I have to prep and serve it all, salads, soup, multiple meal options and dessert but I can pace myself and usually have someone available to help if it's necessary.

 

Aside from the structure, the personal relationships formed with the residents are invaluable. I love them as if they were a part of my own family so going to work is like almost like going home, if that makes sense. Yes it's hard work but it also allows me to nurture in a way that a restaurant couldn't for me. The residents are oftentimes lonely and a few minutes of conversation and a hug gift me the best reward, a giant smile.

 

Try to think outside the box, every person on this planet needs to eat and there are different avenues as cooks or chefs to satisfy that need. An intense restaurant line is one road of many.

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