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My Struggle With Confidence

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hey, I am what they call the "New Kid". I am fresh out high school and never had a chance to be in a real kitchen. My cooking experience is solely based on outside cooking such as BBQ and grilling. So I have never had "indoor cooking." I am finally getting a summer job in a kitchen working for summer camp where I will be cooking for the groups that comes in. Other than that I have NO workforce experience. Even though I do not know much about the professional world, I have read and studied, and even done research papers on it for class on the "Life Of A Chef". Needless to say, I know the challenges,ladder climbing, and I know what its gonna take. My problem? Is confidence. Training our knife skills we had to do several "prep" cuts. I struggled with some of them I could not cut the basic cubes, they always come out to thin, or to bulky. I could not get my cuts right. When we cooking  I struggle and I start getting nervous. My confidence is shot in my classes but I love cooking. Sometimes I even question if I am in the right field. I was just wondering if their is anybody out their that feel the same way, or have felt this way, or how to help with this. Thank you. 

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”- Julia Child 
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“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”- Julia Child 
Reply
post #2 of 8

Grats on getting the job over the summer. You should have a better idea at the end of the summer if you think this is the right field for you.

 

As for basic knife cuts, that only comes with practice. It's like scales in music. Buy some potatoes and go to town. While you will eventually need to be fast, work on being right first. Speed will come later.

 

I've defiantly felt that way - in fact I still do when it comes to moving up. It'll get better.

post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by theculinarykid View Post
 

Hey, I am what they call the "New Kid". I am fresh out high school and never had a chance to be in a real kitchen. My cooking experience is solely based on outside cooking such as BBQ and grilling. So I have never had "indoor cooking." I am finally getting a summer job in a kitchen working for summer camp where I will be cooking for the groups that comes in. Other than that I have NO workforce experience. Even though I do not know much about the professional world, I have read and studied, and even done research papers on it for class on the "Life Of A Chef". Needless to say, I know the challenges,ladder climbing, and I know what its gonna take. My problem? Is confidence. Training our knife skills we had to do several "prep" cuts. I struggled with some of them I could not cut the basic cubes, they always come out to thin, or to bulky. I could not get my cuts right. When we cooking  I struggle and I start getting nervous. My confidence is shot in my classes but I love cooking. Sometimes I even question if I am in the right field. I was just wondering if their is anybody out their that feel the same way, or have felt this way, or how to help with this. Thank you. 

Practice makes perfect. When it comes to knife work, as said above, get a variety of the cheapest possible bargain bin produce and go to town on it. Practice all the cuts, not just the problematic ones. These are skills that are learned through repetition not something you can learn from a book. 

 

And with time will come confidence. Ask lots of questions. Practice, practice, practice. Above all, enjoy it, you are cooking because you enjoy it. Its not always going to be a walk in the park, you will be in high pressure situations but once you overcome the confidence issues, it will become more satisfying. 

 

Edit: Just remember, that everyone started out at the bottom. 

post #4 of 8

When learning cuts one thing to do is to place an 'example' of the cut you are doing out of the way on one of the top corners of your cutting board.

 

That way you can easily visually compare what you are actually doing with what you are supposed to be doing.

 

ie. if cutting planks - have a perfectly cut plank on the corner of your board to look at.

 

Another thing you can do is to take a hot knife or exacto and melt little marks on the 4 sides of your board (assuming it's poly).

 

Do one side with marks denoting bruinoise, another with small dice, the next with medium, the last with chunks.   (don't use these examples - rather use what ever it is you cut most)

 

This way when you have to do a cut - you just turn the board so the marks of the proper size are closest to you.  Then get to work.  Beats carrying a ruler and remembering how many mm or fractions of an inch each cut is. (besides the terms tend to differ slightly depending on chef and kitchen)

 

And as said practice practice .... making vege soup is a good way to cut tons and tons and not waste the food.  It also allows you to practice on different shaped food, as dicing celery is much different from a potato or carrot.

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"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

Reply
post #5 of 8

Simply echoing what everyone else has said. Tourne, brunoise, large dice, small, peeling fruit it all takes time and no one expects you to know how to do it right out of the gate. It can be very intimidating but if your are serious about what your doing then you will do what the rest of us did and buy a big bag of potatoes and practice and hopefully learn how to make some great mashed potatoes in the process. You will gain confidence after time so don't let your lack of experience trip you up.

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #6 of 8

Just adding my two cents in...

 

Hi theculinarykid, I think I can relate to you on what you're talking about. Like you, I'm also fresh out of high school/secondary school, and for the last 3 months I've been working part-time as a kitchen assistant. Not in any camps, but yea, basically, I was the lowest guy there out of maybe 3-4 people in the 2 small kitchens I've worked in.

 

At first, of course, I've felt unconfident, and I know about those cuts as well :P I've often cut stuff too thin or too thick, I can't really say much cause I'm still in the same boat, but as everyone else has said, practice makes perfect, and I too have a lot of practice to get on to...

 

I've been kinda, instructed or corrected whenever I make a mistake, like when the pasta carbonara I cook comes out too watery, or when I move too slowly, but these kinda stuff does happen and all you can do is continue learning :) I think that as long as you have- and this word has been repeated to me many many times- passion, you'll be able to do fine.

 

Since you already know what it's gonna take, I say go for it, your summer kitchen work will probably give you a good idea of what it's like working in a kitchen with other people

 

Ciao :)

post #7 of 8

I am so happy to have read this post.  I am currently in Culinary School and I have had my first kitchen job for about 7 months now.  I too lack confidence in the kitchen and I have been struggling with it really bad lately.  I am so hard on myself when I mess up and when I make a simple mistake I blow it way out of proportion.  This week was really bad for me and I made mistakes.  I love cooking and it is truly my passion, I have done it since I was little and I would help my grandma in the kitchen.  These are really good memories for me and that is what fuels my passion.  But after this week I feel like a failure and feel like I should just give up, I do not want to though.  I would love to hear about how your job goes!

post #8 of 8

You said that sometimes you question if you are in the right field?  Very simple to answer. Is cooking your passion? Is there anything else you would rather do? If cooking makes you happy stick with it.   Don't be discouraged by things that you can't do well. Practice, practice, practice and try to get a mentor  to teach you skills.   You can learn a lot about cooking by simply doing it.  Work in a kitchen as much as you can. . Cuinary school is great but you can still succeed without it.    ,,beause cooking is as much of an art as a science.  It is hard work but if you love it, that's half the battle.

 

 

Good Luck

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