Chain restaurants.. Bad or Good???
At the end of the day, yes alot of it is slave work when it comes down to it. What ive learned in my short 5 years in the industry is that you need to be at a place that you feel proud of what you accomplished that night.
I spent 4 years of my life at a turn and burn 1300 covers a day type place, it got old very quick, i hated it and lost my spark. Now in the past year Ive transitioned into fine dining and its a whole other animal. I don't want to say that fine dining is easier, but in alot of aspects it is. Generally its much more controlled, slower paced, and as long as your mise is set, you should have a good night.
Youre not gonna learn much at Red Lobster besides a bit about basic seafood and how a corporation works
Getting into fine dining has definetly been the best carrear move ive made, i wish i would of did it sooner.
Of course cooking is slave work!
Look at any one who is earning big money, what's the one thing they have in common? They work with people, and most are in sales. Who in the kitchen earns the most? The Chef. It's his/her responsibility to manage people, the cooks just cook, but the chef manages. The more staff the Chef supervises, the bigger the paycheck.
Let me put it to you another way. Who earns more money, the guy who makes a diamond ring, or the guy who sells the diamond ring?
Right now you need experience. Red lobster is fine, learn all you can then look for something a bit better, learn all you can, then look for something a bit better....
Hope this helps
However, the line of work you have chosen is brutal. Will be most of your career, especially the first years.
I don't think chains are a bad place to start. It definitely helps you learn how to throw pans and work the grill in a high volume capacity.
Maybe try to work at a turn and burn and maybe a part time job at a little more of an upscale place ?
Chain restaurants are not a bad stop for a cook, but they don't make a good destination. You're probably not going to learn a lot about cooking great food, but there are a lot of organizational skills you could learn there, assuming the one you are working at is run by the book. In a chain like Red Lobster, there is a written process for everything. Ask the Kitchen Manager if you can see the recipe book, help with inventory, checking in orders. See if you can observe him/her putting in the orders, making the schedule, writing prep lists.
Chain restaurants have a lot to teach. Very little of that has to do with cooking great food, but still plenty. At some point though, you have to break out. Too much time in the wrong chain can "type-cast" you professionally. At some point, you need to get into a scratch kitchen or wherever you see yourself. Bring your knowledge of corporate organizational tools and be prepared to start at the bottom when it comes to cooking. Don't waste your time in bad restaurants or poorly run kitchens. Other chefs in town know which ones they are and they don't look good on the resume. They are usually dead ends too. You're better off starting out washing dishes in a well run kitchen than being the sous chef in a bad one.
You should be able to learn something at any -ANY- restaurant. If nothing else a big chain will teach how to turn-and-burn and get you used to working fast. But you'll learn everything you're gonna learn within a short while.