disclaimer: I know this is a little long. Please, someone who has advice to give, read it.
Okay everyone. Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time there was this corporate kitchen. Big chain of profitable restaurants. They made all the money ever. How? They hired clowns for managers and cooks. Why? so they could pay them a pittance. They found a way to turn their food into a product, and they make sure to keep food costs down by using poor quality ingredients. Despite the overall lack of culinary skill, the lack of standards, and the lack of concern, waste is never an issue because everything costs so little.
Sanitation is reprehensible, but to keep costs down and profits up, they encourage the cooks to rush through the cleaning, leaving almost every inch of the line in violation of some or another health regulation. When equipment deteriorates, they ignore it.
....but holy hell they make so much money. It's pretty good for a small few at the top.
That restaurant is called The Every Chain and it is owned by the All of Them group. ....see what I did there?
I've had enough. I've really had enough. I'm tired of getting laughed at by simpleton coworkers with double-digit I.Qs for being 'slow' because I actually wash and sanitize my station, change over pans, label things -- instead of just throwing hot water on everything.
I'm sick of being told 10 minutes is an unacceptable check time average with a screen full of orders, completely frozen proteins and non-stick skillets with gouges all over the cooking surface. Despite all of this, I still never burn a single dish. Not even the sauce. Not one that I sell to the window. And yet, 10 minutes is unacceptable. All around me, my coworker's constantly have food getting sent back because it's burned, it's too cold, it's made wrong. It's rubbery (let's play the "hey microwave, finish cooking this chicken" game)
Every time I see someone put a weight on top of a filet I die a little inside.
I just. Standards. Don't people care? I care. I get laughed at for caring by my coworkers, and yelled at by my managers for taking too long. Are you kidding? And I don't take long.
I've also never had a single dish come back. Not one. Nothing. Never. Not exaggerating. Many of my coworkers have a couple plates an hour coming back. They didn't like it, the sauce was burned, steaks overcooked. I can't tell you how many filets I've seen tossed in the garbage.
I want to get into fine dining. I wanted to go to medical school, actually. But I can't pay for it. So that's out. I love what I do, I love to cook. It's joyous, expressive, beautiful, stressful, frustrating, delicious,creative, and an awful lot of fun.
So I want out of this. I want to get into a more serious kitchen. I did not go to culinary school. Despite being a cook, both line and prep, for nearly 10 years, I have never really been exposed to the caliber of cooking I'd like to be able to do. I'm wondering if any chefs would hire someone like me; you know, someone who loves the work with passion, someone who isn't afraid to work hard, who can be as dedicated as is needed, and who is always looking to learn more.
I worry that my lack of formal culinary training is going to seriously hinder any potential opportunities that could come along. What could I say, if I were lucky enough to get the chance to speak to the executive chef at any number of the fine dining restaurants around here? Are they willing to teach people or am I out of luck?