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Should I hire a Chef right out of Culinary School? - Page 2

post #31 of 52

There are exceptions.  Some of us recent culinary school grads were previously employed distributing multi-million dollar estate settlements to clients and weren't happy.  We also know a thing or two about balancing a budget, ordering supplies, and how to read a profit and loss statement, so please don't put all of us eggs in one basket.

 

Oh and yes, some of us CAN cook.

post #32 of 52
How's thw job search going?
post #33 of 52

Hypothetical:

 

You hire a person as chef that is a recent culinary school grad, but they have prior business experience (although non-restaurant) and so can read a P&L, order supplies, and budget. They also are a good cook.

 

It is 5:00 on a Friday and your saute guy is a no show. You have reservations for 200+ and a party booked in the private room. Guests are streaming in the door, one you recognize as well known food critic. Another is a winery owner and joining him is the president of the tourism board.

 

Can your recent grad jump into saute and handle it?

 

Oh and by the way your fish purveyor was late, just got here, so the fish needs to filleted pronto. Lobsters need to be prepped. Clams and oysters need to be washed; but wait, your saute guy is a no show!

 

FWIW, I didn't let my imagination run away with me on this scenario, I have been around long enough to see many similar variations up close and personal.

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 #34 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by cheflayne View Post
 

Hypothetical:

 

You hire a person as chef that is a recent culinary school grad, but they have prior business experience (although non-restaurant) and so can read a P&L, order supplies, and budget. They also are a good cook.

 

It is 5:00 on a Friday and your saute guy is a no show. You have reservations for 200+ and a party booked in the private room. Guests are streaming in the door, one you recognize as well known food critic. Another is a winery owner and joining him is the president of the tourism board.

 

Can your recent grad jump into saute and handle it?

 

Oh and by the way your fish purveyor was late, just got here, so the fish needs to filleted pronto. Lobsters need to be prepped. Clams and oysters need to be washed; but wait, your saute guy is a no show!

 

FWIW, I didn't let my imagination run away with me on this scenario, I have been around long enough to see many similar variations up close and personal.

 

Good scenario... i even had a flashback. 

I remember once about a year ago, it was me, my head chef and the cook that prepped the cold line. 

Meat guy was not working that day. And the saute cook had quit 2 weeks prior and i needed to sub in, i thought it was no big deal, because i was working saute already and killing it (but oh boy how i suffered).  

150 guests, plus another 35 made reservations literally for the opcoming hour. 

We were low on supplies and one cook short (and cooking with one person less then what we were used to). 

I don´t remember much of what happened that day, sorta blacked out, but i remember alot of food coming out, alot of smoke from the grilling in the kitchen and a lot of people swearing and screaming. 

 

Oh and i remember me working saute, making rice, working the meat station, while my chef was expiditing, cooking as well, making pasta, and butchering while the salad cook helped making dishes and helped me on saute. 

It didnt help that all 150 people came in all at the same time.... and the party of 35 came in soon after.... 

OH AND WE RAN OUT OF DESSERST, so the salad cook had to eventually leave me, and go make desserts to order.... 


Edited by KaiqueKuisine - 7/14/14 at 6:45am

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

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Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Dr.Seuss

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post #35 of 52


Chef Layne is 100% correct. Plus I never have had a grad  who could order  or new quantities. Like order for a party of 250 all foods required..  They don't teach that.. Sorry they teach it at  HKU=

Hard Knocks University

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #36 of 52

I totally agree with Foodpump, chef's Ed & Layne. A recent culinary school graduate that is educated is just that, a recent culinary school graduate. I got a piece of paper in 1980, then worked on my masters for several years at HKU where I actually learned my craft.

I worked in a French Bistro while attending school, learned more there there from the European trained chef than school, then a couple of Italian places, then to where the learning really started.

 

1000 seat banquet house with a dining room that sat another 250.

Weekends you could do 500 from the front of house and have a number of banquets going at the same time, while all the prep for a 1000+ Sunday brunch was going on. Everything was made from scratch, soups, stocks, sauces, everything butchered in house.

 

Find yourself a job and leave your previous life out of the equation, working in an attorney's office and throwing dinner parties at home is not relevant.

post #37 of 52
When I got my first "Head Chef" Job I had to walk 6-miles in the snow uphill both ways every day for a 5:30 am breakfast of 300 lumberjacks, each with a food item allergy of one sort or another. We had no gas or electricity much of the time so I had to cut, split and dry the lumber for the stoves all by myself while my 62-yo prep-aide did what he could before the crowd got there. Many were the days when their payroll was held up so I had to cover their credit until the end of the next week. When breakfast was over we had to wash the dishes with water from melted snow because the pipes were frozen. ...

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

I'm not sayin', I'm just sayin'.

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post #38 of 52
Last place i worked had some wierd floor damage in front of the grill. I asked what it was from- "that's where they split the wood before the gas grill put in..."
post #39 of 52

I know this is late, but I have to chime in on this.  The average culinary school graduate knows about Jack Sh..t about cooking and seasoning food; let alone maintaining a budget and HR, however, there is always an exception to the rule.  If you combine life experience of cooking REAL gourmet food, fire time to feed 20 people in a designated time-slot, and you can get that food on the table, in the proper chafing dish, heated to the proper temps, and the food is delicious, then hire him!

 

It really bothers me when I read chef's comments regarding recent culinary school grads as having very limited skills; most don't; but that's not entirely true.  There are people like me who have worked in my personal kitchen, but also knows her stuff.  I'm not talking making your average family pot roast, or fried chicken, etc., but great tasting gourmet foods and sauces, complete with professional staging of a plate.  I take pics of all my finished products now to create my own personal portfolio on interviews.  I worked in a supervisory position in law firm for over 21 years, and can apply that same business management certification when the time comes for me to enact that skill.  I am presently working on gaining entry-level experience in the food industry, but I am not your average recent culinary school graduate.  I know my way around food regardless of what anyone says.

 

The person you should consider is experienced with spices and herbs and has a feel of what compliments each one.  The experienced cook can taste a raw herb and right away know what meat would be a perfect match with it; even what fruit or vegetable would take it over the top or what cooking technique would bring out the best flavors. 

 

I think you should interview him/her a few times just to get a handle on temperament, attitude, work ethic, and general kitchen safety/hygiene and last, but definitely not least, GET A BACKGROUND CHECK & REFERENCES.

 

Always know whose in your house and you'll never be sorry.


Edited by Etherial - 7/30/14 at 10:20am
post #40 of 52

Iceman:  Really?  I sure hope you made a boat-load of money!

post #41 of 52

I dunno, Etherial..

 

Owners are kinda funny, they have this overwhelming need to make money--you know, cover the payroll, rent, creditors, etc.

 

Kitchens can be very romantic, I guess, but I see the commercial kitchen in only two ways:

 

-The first is potential.  The kitchen has the potential to earn some serious bucks.  Matter of fact, most owners have already calculated the potential, included it in thier business plan/proposal, and are gambling that this potential will eventually earn them money.

 

-The second is liability.  The kitchen has the potential to poison, maim, or outright kill customers.  Employees have the potential to steal, cheat, or drag you into labour law disputes--wrongful dismisals, percieved human rights violations, and the like.  Equipment and infrastructure have the potential to nickel and dime you ( Actually one thousand and three thousand) you to death, Municipal gov'ts can drive you insane with demands for upgrades, and don't even start to think about liquor law regulations.

 

You need time and experience to learn the dynamics of all I have listed above.  No one was born with this knowledge, and no one got it with a 2 yr culinary school program

.

 

Most owners who are interviewing for someone to take the reigns of a kitchen will ask the one following question. And this question is as valid in N.America as it is in Europe, Afrika, Isreal, or Australia.  It is as valid today as it was 100 years ago.

 

Ready for the question?

 

"what was your food cost at your last place of employment?"

 

Answer this question satisfactorly, and the odds are you will be a strong contender for the job.

 

Catch 22:

 

in order to answer question satisfactorily, you have to have managed a previous kitchen.  Not a home kitchen, not waitressing 20-odd years ago, not your military career, but managing a commercial kitchen.

 

Owners are kind of funny, they don't like to gamble with thier money on someone who just walked in the door.  If that someone has been working for them for 5-7 years and worked thier way up from salads to lead cook, and then slowly started to do some paperwork and ordering, then  they might take a chance.  But not for someone who just walked in the door.

 

Glad to have you back on the forums

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #42 of 52
I STILL am curious how your job search is going, Etherial.
post #43 of 52

Now Etherial, this just isn't like you....

 

Usually when you post a question or a statement and don't get the response you want, you are right back, same day, fighting, argueing, and fighting some more.

 

Let's treat the whole thing like a science experiment, O.K?

 

You say employers should recognize you because of your 40 years cooking experience*, and personality and leadership qualities that make you the right choice to lead a kitchen brigade and a kitchen.

 

Every one who has responded, and I don't use that word lightly--Everyone-- has said otherwise.  Some taking the time to patiently explain why, some giving personal experiences, but all disagree.

 

So, you are the subject of this experiment, and you will ultimately prove us wrong.

It's just going to take a little time, that's all.  But I'm sure you will tell us when you have found something that agrees with you.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #44 of 52

I'm a former culinary student, first, I feel the education is lacking compared to real restaurants. Even my friends that graduated I probably wouldn't hire as a full time chef, since they are still looking for work and have little to no experience.

 

 

A lot of professional executive chefs I see are more busy crunching numbers than they are cooking. Lots of paperwork handling food cost, inventory, labor cost etc.

 

A quick note on "Experience" I don't care if someone has 5,10,15 years "experience" as many people do. There's a reason I at 1 year experience had the key to the restaurant after 3 weeks and the head chef who was quickly replaced did not. It's about passion, talent, and knowledge, 15 years as a chef does not a good chef make if he learned the wrong ways to everything, I had another chef who studied under David Burke, with 10 years experience he was quickly canned as he had an issue with sleeping pills, he was found constantly passed out during service, leaving inventory to the line cooks. Experience doesn't count for crap. KNOWLEDGE, TALENT, PASSION.

 

Also the post about someone who can get good food cost is essential too, it's also important that your line cooks understand portion control.

post #45 of 52
Ah, kitchen work. "You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave." Meaning no one else is desperate enough to keep hiring these people, so they keep coming back for more...
post #46 of 52

Attention all owners 

''  Would you hand a million dollar investment over to a person just out of culinary school'' ? I sure would not.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

Reply
post #47 of 52

It would be an extremely bad more.  There is no other way to describe it.  I'd put my name forward (20s) studied professional cookery on the job at a bistro for a year, after working 68 hour week in a bakery for 3 years, and now that my exec gave me a chance employing me on the line under a very talented head chef, first time working in a professional kitchen, I can tell you it's a struggle just being on larder.  I can't fathom the amount of responsibility, organization and other niches it would take to be in such a position of power with ZERO EXPERIENCE; plus, the candidate would have to garner their own ways of running things, but how can that happen when they don't know how to run things in the first place?  And the place I'm working in has 7 restaurants (1 michelin and another 2 rosettes)... I have passion, commitment, drive, initiative and willingness to learn and all the rest of it, but I'm telling you right now, there is no way, I'm talking a snowballs chance in hell, a graduate can run a kitchen.  None.

post #48 of 52

So I went to school in 2010, I've been doing sushi for 1 and 1/2 years now.

 

The food cost of our restaurant is at 40% right now, and the corporate chef (15 years experience) shot down my ideas of saving salmon skin for salad, saving the end of cucumbers for sunomono, and rather than scrape out the fatty tuna from the collar of the big eye to put in spicy tuna, to use it as nigiri (like the famous chef Yasuda does on bluefin) and sell it as a flight/special (Lean, Mid, Belly, Collar), pricing the yellowtail differently from the yellowtail belly as they are different in taste and texture. I could go on and on for days.

All ideas would have saved on food cost. All ideas have been proven to work in restaurants I worked at before.

 

But another example, I had another chef at the old restaurant, he got food cost way down, and the quality of food slowly showed, and customers stopped coming.

It's a really tough business, I've met chefs who worked under prestigious names like David Burke only to find they are terrible and running the restaurant into the ground, I've also seen consulting chefs who didn't care about food cost and used the restaurant as a playground.

 

A friend once told me, the restaurant industry is considered a low industry, filled with the lowest of people, don't be one of those, always aspire to elevate yourself and the restaurant you work at.

It's really hard to find who's who, but you'll see it in their passion and hours put in.

post #49 of 52

Necrobamp!

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by foodpump View Post
 

Good questions.

 

First off, one who graduates from a culinary school is a "Culinary school graduate", not a Chef.

 

Now, if the applicant had 4-5 years previous experience in a kitchen with a year or two of supervisory position before entering culinary school, I'd say it would be a good gamble to put him/her in charge of your kitchen.  However if the applicant had "0" experience in a commercial kitchen and day dreamed while watching  the "Food network" prior to culinary school , I'd say it would be a lousy gamble--and an expensive one.

 

Who am I to tell you how to spend your money?

 

The kitchen with it's infrastructure and equipment is going to cost a minimum of 50 grand, probably a lot me by the time you get salt and pepper shakers on the tables.  At any given time you will have a minimum of 5 grand tied up in inventory--edible, perishable inventory, which can either make you money if properly managed or loose you money if improperly managed.  Hang on, I'm not done yet.  One Chef plus 3 cooks plus a dishwasher = 160 hrs per week, at lets say, oooh average of 15 bucks per hour is, how much is that in labour costs?  Hang on, hang on, what about waitstaff?.  Lets say you have the same amount of waitstaff and labour costs, and the Chef can't handle service rushes and hides out in the john, or tells all the waitstaff to blank off and leave him alone and you have nothing to sell in the dining room, or even worse customers complaining and wanting refunds?

 

What I'm trying to say is that the Chef is an integral part of the entire operation--s/he is not a contractor or a 3rd party that you can toss out on a moments notice and not even notice they're gone.

 

Then again, who am I to tell you how to spend your money?


Foodpump is on the money.  I worked at a place under a rookie chef.  I would have done a better job with no culinary school only because I would have stopped people from stealing and been their boos, not their friend.  They would have showed up on time or been fired, and known exactly what their job was or was not.  Well, I wouldn't have even hired those idiots in the first place.  Besides the lack of practical experiences, leadership requires that the basics are covered and nothing is left to guesswork.  Why hire someone for a leadership position when they haven't even been properly lead? 

 

You'll basically pay that person to most likely figure out how to screw a place up as they are on their way to possibly learn how not to in the future.  The fact they would take that job is testament to the fact they probably never would learn how because they do not know how to learn it.  Giving someone that role when they haven't really earned it can go to their head and be a real management problem.  How will this person interact with veteran line cooks that may cook them under the table while they're trying to make guesswork of stuff they know.  It's like the senior nurse vs 1st year resident MD conundrum.  They're in charge, but should they be? 

 

You need someone with experience.  Especially if specific to what you are doing.  The chef needs to be the go to guy.  Quick question.  Quick answer.  He knows your products, how to buy them, who to buy them from, why, how to store, use, prepare, merchandise and not waste them.  How read the tea leaves and anticipate the next move.  How to see mistakes and problems and steer the boat. 

 

That is not a rookie.  He won't be able to manage all the responsibilities at once that he hasn't taken on one by one before.  And, he'll have to deal with cooks lol.  Not to be a jerk, but I'm not a terrible human being and I take advantage of poor management just on principle.  He'll get walked all over and have too many fires to put out he didn't see coming.  A few bad nights with a fresh face will bone you hard. 

 

You'd be better off with someone with 15 years experience and no degree, than just the degree.  What you want is the degree, the experience, and look at his past.  How many joints when down under his watch?  What was he doing and what was happening?  Was it really location?  People skills.  He may know food and numbers, but can he really hold down the fort without offending people, neglecting staff that need development?  Does he know what you need and what he needs from the staff and how to make these things happen? 

post #50 of 52

All of these threads are very exciting!  In my experience, all of my cooks fresh out of culinary school know what the equipment in the kitchen is called and know how to slice and dice very slowly.  I say give them all a chance and treat them as new hires on a trial basis.  There are certainly culinary school graduates that have blown my regular staff away!  They are not a dime per dozen.  Some of these young (or not so young) people come in to the industry with unmeasured passion.  I never had the opportunity to attend culinary school though I had a a scholarship to do so.  Sometimes things don't work out,  Although I  work as an exec chef and am so gracious to have gone through the old school of hard knocks. I've had the opportunity to cook and become a chef while starting as a bus boy in 1989 .  Culinary students should still have that experience even after their graduating.  In my kitchen, a few graduates hadn't made the cut.  Some aren't ready for a catering kitchen like mine but are more suited in chain restaurants where they may learn structure that is presented in culinary schools . A couple of culinary school graduates have learned enough to move on successfully and I certainly miss them.  I read an early post that states "Chef" is a vocabulary word.   Chef means manager.  Culinary graduates are not yet mangers.  My  jacket says "Chef de Cusine". I mange the food.  I also manage the menu, the staff and blah, blah, blah. Managing the crew is so important.  My job is to teach well.  My sous chefs work diligent to make sure that everything is right on!  These culinary graduates are working to achieve this status for knowledge!  So after straying from the first post in this thread, I say do your research and hire accordingly.  Many may interview well, but put them to the test before making a decision.  I have great faith in my interviews but always give them a trial run. It's not only to find out if they fit my needs in my kitchen.  It's also to determine where they may fit in a different kitchen.  I think that anyone who decides that they want to prepare food for the masses is a special kind of person before anything else. I'm pretty well rounded in all culinary departments but every time one of these students show up, they show me something new.  I love it!   25 years of cooking is NOT enough for me.  I always look forward to what my culinary school interns bring to  me and my guests.  At the end of the day I hope that everyone learns something new because that crostini app gets pretty stale after 2 passes!   Viva the culinary grad!

post #51 of 52
In my experience the ego is way out of proportion to their skill set. And very slow. I do a skills test when interviewing and I am surprisingly surprised each time I have to correct how they small and medium dice, seems so basic yet they don't know. For a carrot most cut long across the median then start slicing into half moons
post #52 of 52

If you want to see a really tough example of a field that requires prior experience just to get into school, check out a few veterinary colleges' requirements.

WOW!

 

One of the main ones, other than sky-high grades in science, is demonstrating a practically life-long hands-on interest in animals.

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