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New Career, New Job, Making a good impression

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 



I just finished my first year at a four year culinary/business university.  I am pleased to say I just got my first real culinary job!  It's a relatively small restaurant focusing on farm to table vegetarian food.  They use locally produced produce and do all the prep in house.  They have quite a creative menu.


The ambiance is nice but casual.  I suppose kind of bistro style (though I think that is a very overused term), using reclaimed wood for the furnishings.  It's really a great environment and the employees seem nice (and importantly happy.)


I'll be starting by shadowing for a couple days, and them moving into prep.  The chef does seem to be interested in developing the employees and spoke of moving me to my own station once he was confident in my skills.  He is aware this is my first real kitchen job so I have that going for me.


So my question is how do I make a good impression during the first two to four weeks when I'll be learning the most (and needing the most over-site)?


I know of all the obvious things, showing up early and ready to work for shift, having a clean uniform, being well groomed, keeping hydrated for the inferno of the kitchen, not horsing around, and being professional.


I also know my major weakness is going to be my inexperience.  My knife skills will need work, I'll be getting used to a hot humid kitchen (apparently getting to about 115 degrees), and doing the 'dance' to stay out of peoples ways.


What do you think the chef's expectations of me will be during the initial trial period and what do I need to do to meet these expectations?


Thank you.

post #2 of 5
Ask questions, set up your station with your knives and cutting board and your ingredients so your boss can show you straight away, eg..this is how i want you to chop this or peel these,better to ask 10 times before doing it wrong..Think about how fast you work but don't be sloppy, and taste everything( with a spoon) multi task, don't stand and watch your potatoes cook, wipe down after each job and just keep your head down and work until you get a feel for the place, and if theres nothing to prep theres always something to clean, that's my take on it, good luck
post #3 of 5

Focus on learning rather than making a good impression and you will make a good impression. Don't be afraid to take notes. Never make an empty handed trip. If you take a dirty dish to the dish station, come back with a clean one. If you take an item to the walk-in, come back with an item to work on next.



Originally Posted by buckrogerspdx View Post


doing the 'dance' to stay out of peoples ways.

If you try to stay out of people's way and do the dance, it will never happen. Just be aware of fellow co-workers presence and their movements and potential movements. Work small. Remember that everyone is doing an important job. That also includes yourself, even when shadowing, because it is all about progression and flow of the business.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your advice.  I do need to remember that the chef knows I'm new to the industry.  I've always been a nose to the grindstone sort of guy.  As for production/prep not going on we had a term in the Coast Guard that was 'if you have time to lean, you have time to clean.'


Thanks for your advice.  This restaurant is exactly the kind of place I want to be working in, so I'm excited but also a bit nervous.

post #5 of 5

watch how the cooks around you work, how they set up their workspace for the day and for individual tasks--but don't simply imitate what they do unless it really resonates with you as smart and efficient. i think it's easy as a beginning cook to pick up bad habits accidentally just because you're imitating those around you, who might only have a tiny bit more experience. cooks and chefs of all levels can have totally nonsensical ways of approaching a task, so be cautious. and be consistent: once you figure out the best way to accomplish something, do it the same way every time.


one of the best pieces of advice i've gotten is to count the steps it takes to accomplish a task, and then try to cut that number in half. the fastest cooks aren't actually moving at warp speed, they're just not making any unnecessary movements, and they've set themselves up so they don't need to be running around.


be patient with yourself as your skills improve and you naturalize to the environment--but don't stop pushing. whatever you're feeling--and some days it'll be your emotional spectrum in its entirety--don't let it affect your work in ways that aren't constructive.

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