First job in the culinary field, any advice?
Everything in its place (Mise en place) as mentioned above, make sure you are stocked and ready to rock.
Multitasking is a must with out it you will not make it far in some kitchens or even specific kitchen stations.
Have a thick skin, its not right but kitchens can be cruel, hard, hateful places some times when tempers are flying and words are being flung around (don't mean to scare you or push you away). Don't let it get to you let it slide off your skin and just move on doing your job and doing it well.
Don't get hung up on titles some of the terms are over used these days.
Knife skills are a must I don't care if you cant do a fine brunoise for consomme or how to tourne a potato, just learn to not cut off your damn thumb and most efficient way to cut up stuff to help your prep speeds.
If you are handed a specific recipe follow it, some one made it for a reason. If you don't get handed a recipe do some research, crack open a few cook books. Learn the "right" way to do it THEN you can work on modifying it, improving it, making it your own.
Sounds lame and it is lame but "clean as your go is a sign of a pro". Clean up often, sweep often do not wait till the very end of the shift to do all the cleaning, plus its sanitary and responsible food severing.
Im sure I could go on and on but ill stop here. Practice at home, cook at home, use your family as guinean pigs, but don't bring it home.
Send me a message if you have any questions, concerns or you just need advice.
I've taken a pay cut and so I'm hoping I can get tthis right. These are all great advice. Some I haven't beentold of yet like the clean up as I go part. I'm very nervous. Its a new restaurant that hasn't opened yet and there is a friends and family event and a Mock service that I'm super nervous about. I don't want to piss the Chef off by asking too many questions and I actually did not think to do that until I read it so thank you everyone so much.
I need help with my knife skills as I've only done small things at home. It seems like so much to take in so I really appreciate all your advice.
Much better to ask a lot of questions and get it done right than to make assumptions and end up doing it completely wrong (waste of time, energy, and ingredients!).
Also, in our kitchen, just about everyone has gone through the Salad/Pantry station at some point, so you could try asking one of them or a sous chef for the more basic questions.
I personally ask plenty of questions but I try to make sure they are smart ones. You won't be pestering so long as you listen carefully to the answers and don't ask the same questions multiple times.
I am excited that I have my first job interview this coming Sunday. My VA rep keeps sending me job advertisements for chef positions and I am no where near qualified to run a kitchen, but I applied anyway and inserted a photo link upload so they can view my dishes I practice on at home.
I have been a home cook for over 40 years, decided two years ago to attend culinary school. I graduated with honors this past May and revamped my resume, cover letter, and provided an Instagram link to for them to peruse. I surely did not expect to get a response, but this morning, to my surprise, I received an email today inviting me to come interview. She did state in her message that I may not be experienced enough for the position, but to come in anyway.
I don't have high hopes of getting hired as one of her chefs, but she must have been impressed by my resume, cover letter, and photo link from my Instagram. Maybe, she'll hire me in the pantry or as a prep chef. I'll do anything just to gain that experience. Gotta start somewhere.
It is my mission to apply to as many positions until I find my match.
I'm really excited and congratulations on your first position, too!
Get your foot into the door----kitchens are a funny place---the good workers are usually spotted quickly and advanced until the worker reaches his or her level of incompetence.
In plain English---this a a 'show me--don't tell me' world---if you show potential for a higher position--you will be moved up the ladder---until you reach a point where you can't handle any more responsibility---
Get hired---watch the other stations--jump in to help when you have your own work finished----learn the next guys job as soon as you have mastered the one you have---
first thing to remember there is never any down time in a kitchen. There is always something to do prep for the next shift, restock your area for the next service, cleaning and sanitizing food prep areas and so forth so always stay busy never stand around or lean on counters, walls tables etc. Always stay busy.
There is a book that I my self had read regarding knife skills ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS COMPLETE BOOK OF KNIFE SKILLS buy a very good resource teaches you everything from caring and sharpening your knives to making rose petals from tomato skins. Questions are how you learn DO NOT FEEL FUNNY ASKING TO MANY QUESTIONS especially if your doing salad bars you don't want to put fresh steamed beets next to the potato salad the beets will bleed into the potato salad leaving it unappealing. Next learn kitchen math. Conversions on ounces to quarts to gallons if a receipe calls for four servings that require 4 quarts of stock then what would be the easiest way to prepare 8 servings you would simply use two gallons as opposed to filling and pouring 8 individual quarts.
So kitchen math is very essential.
that is the best advice I could give to you now without overloading your mind. However, I wish you the best of luck and success in this field.
Be ready to get chewed out.... a lot. NEVER lash back just take it all in. The majority of stuff your are going to learn is going to be from getting chewed out. Don't let a chef break you down. Show no weakness. The culinary world is a hard world to live in. Only do it if you can handle butt kicking.
Find that first job in a BUSY restaurant. Toughest place to learn and even RUN, is a slow restaurant. If pride is not an issue, a short order cooks position in a diner or greasy spoon will teach you how to be organized (mis en place... already mentioned) and the BASIC skills necessary to "shorten" the learning curve (knife skills, grill and line organization, etc). Once you have mastered taking down a few "lamp shades" and you're comfortable with the surroundings, that will be the time to move on and UP.
Keep one thing in mind: No matter how long you spend in a kitchen, you need to be smart enough that you don't know everything! I learn new techniques all the time form hourly employees, sous chefs, chef de cuisine, etc.
But MOST OF ALL.... have fun! It's OK to get into the weeds every so often.... in fact EVERYDAY. It's what you DO to prepare yourself for the onslaught that will determine your success or failure to get to the other side.