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Advice on making my way back into the cooking industry...

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

Aside from being an active member on cheftalk i also used to be a line cook. 

So i took a few months off to re-organize myself after a few bad jobs. Stayed about 8 months away from kitchens, and just stopped working all together. Which was fine because my grandmother who i live with had been diagnosed with lung cancer and i was able to spend a lot of time with her. 

 

Now after 8 months of not cooking for money and on top of that started an engineering degree i fell in a slump. 

I just don´t see myself working anywhere aside from kitchens. I have had  few bad jobs, but nothing that has completely stripped me of my determination and motivation to pursue and maintain myself in the industry. I love cooking and i kind of wish i hadnt taken such a long break, not just because i havent earned any cash, but because i lost out on time and the potential gaining of some experience. 

 

I have 3 years of experience in the industry, but have stayed 8 months away. 

Aside from that i have done various courses and had the opportunity of participating in some competitions and working with great chefs. 

But i don´t know if any place would be willing to risk hiring someone who has been away from the industry for some time. 

I want to go back and pick up where i left off, but it seems impossible. 

So far only interviews i get, is to work the dish pit, not that i would mind, but i feel like i have worked the dish pit enough. I honestly wouldnt mind working in a kitchen peeling vegetables again and doing basic tasks until i was to gain the respect and prove my credibility but it seems hard to get another shot. 

 

So i would like some opinions and answers on how maybe you would handle this situations and get back in the industry. 

Because im tired of being away from kitchens, i like the rush, i like being stressed while working saute, etc... and want to get back in the industry. But no doors seem to be opening... 

 

I have limited cash and im even considering quitting my degree and relocating. 

One of my old chefs works as a sous in one of South Americas Best restaurants, and i know i could get an internship easily or find jobs easier maybe working in bigger cities. Problem is i would need money to do that and right now i have zip. My family would support me, but i just don´t know for how long. 


Edited by KaiqueKuisine - 7/31/14 at 7:28pm

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

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post #2 of 10

@KaiqueKuisine 8 months is nothing everyone needs a break, time to re-think their strategy. You don't forget your skills in 8 months so don't let that be a block. I think the most important thing for you is to really understand what you want to do so that you can narrow it down to the right job. Then when you go for your interview you have an honest answer "I needed time to re-think my strategy and find what I was looking for".

 

My last bit of advice is don't go into debt to live your dream. Work, save, live below your means and then live your dream. Debt in a dream is always like drinking a good wine with a fly in it. :)

Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
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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)
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post #3 of 10
Take the dish pit job. I worked the dish pit for free for 2 weeks at the place I wanted to be at, and that was with a culinary degree and experience. Can't prove you've got grit with a piece of paper and flowery talk in an interview.
post #4 of 10

Hey KaiqueKuisine! Good to hear you from you again. Sorry about your grandmother's cancer, but I am glad that you were in a position to be able spend more time with her. Things like that are what are really important in this life and are irreplaceable.

 

An eight month sabbatical from the industry is nothing, a mere blip. There are plenty of places out there that would love to have you. Doors will open, just keep knocking.

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 #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys, Monday i will be getting back on my feet and plan to hand out some resumes. 

Finally time to start working in the industry. 

This time i spent away was like torture, but i did get to appreciate some family time, and got my license. Yeah never had it, always so busy, but now i can drive xD. Got to do a few gigs just for some money and took my time to start a degree, just don´t know if i will continue attempting to earn it, since i don´t see myself working as an engineer. 

 

The town i currently live in has about 200-350 cooking establishements, so who knows i may get lucky... 

I always believed that work is always available for decent cooks, and i think im decent enough. Even if i have to go back to working pantry. 

I remembered one of my first cooking jobs involved me waitressing, 2 weeks later i was in the kitchen after a cook quit. 

So who knows, good cooks dont work in low positions for too long. 

 

Ill keep everyone posted. 

 

Anyone willing to put in a few words feel free, opinions and comments are always welcome. 

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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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 #6 of 10

One other strategy that I've often found useful (working overseas, where very few places wanted to "take-a-chance" on a foreign worker) is to find a mundane crap-job that pays the bills and really hound the places that you want to work at.   

 

Do dishes there, as many stage as you can, ask to simply observe how the kitchen works, what ever it takes.   

 

If you have the chops and drive before long you will be working at any place you so ever choose.  (no matter how funny of a fit it may seem)

----

 


"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

 

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post #7 of 10
I was away for five years while I stayed at home with my son then went back. It's like riding a bike. Lol! I took a night pantry position part time to get my foot in the door. Now I have a sweet day position!
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 

Just thought to keep everyone updated. 

 

So i sent out some resumes but got no calls. 

So after a week of just staying home, doing some chores etc....

Yesterday i get a call from one of my chefs living in Sao Paulo, asking em if im interested in staging about a week at the place she is working. It just happens that this place is one of Brasils top 10 restaurants. 

 

Then today while on trip advisor checking out some reviews, i notice their is a restaurant here in town who has been getting the highest rankings, as well as its new and has just opened a few months ago. 

I check it out on trip advisor, go on their fcebook page etc... and it ends up being a very underground hipster/vintage restaurant, very cool and hidden in an alley. The food is multi-cultural influenced, seats about 30, they have some great dishes, using farm to table produce. Lots of cool spices, etc.... using things like hawaiian black salt, lots of pickling, lots of artesan breads, cool jams, very organic and they even served vegetarian and just great recipes and dishes, etc... i was at least very interested. 

They also on weekend nights only serve gourmet burgers, 3 types of burgers on friday and saturday, and every weekend they change and let the creativy get wild. I even checked out some of the burgers and they were great, all house made, as well as house made sausages etc.... 

While on weekdays they only serve lunch and the dishes were also very cool, creative, a bit rustic, highly influenced by different cultures, as well as the menu changes everyday, depending on produce and whats in season. 

 

I thought i was going to die. Since this type of place is where i love to work. Homey, cool, hipster, lots of old furniture, type writers where guests can type and leave critism, and the menu is written on a huge black board with lots of cool street art. 

So i took a chance and went out to the place to hand in my resume in person. 

 

The owners were very young, very hippy but looked so nice and well mannered. 

The enviroment of the restaurant was amazing, i would definetly eat there in a heart beat. The place was pretty, had cheap very fair prices and looked like it served great food.

The owners asked me if i had free time, to maybe stage on the weekend since they are getting some nice movement. 

I said i was free and would love a chance, they seemed interested and said they may call me to stage this week and test me out. I was happy, because since this place seems a bit underground i doubt they get so many resumes, as well as i kinda have their type of profile. Since im a hippy as well. 

Im hoping i get the call, and who knows maybe ill stage for free or just work a few nights for them. While that gets going, im finishing up my degree in baking and i may end up staging in a few months at one of the best places in the country. 

 

Just keeping my fingers crossed and hope i get lucky to have the opportunity to stage at this place, even if it means ill be flipping burgers, at least their artesan burgers served in a very high end style lol. That and if i do get to work lunch serving up some of the dishes they have i know ill easily learn a lot and gain some experience, they can even pay me less then minimum wage, ill take it lol. 

That entire restaurant excited me, and i knew that if they were to give me a chance i wouldnt let them down and would easily work happy for a pretty long time. 

Of course there is no guarantee of anything im still hoping ill get that chance lol. Few places like this intrigue me and this place really caught my attention. 

 

Wish me luck guys :P

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

Dr.Seuss

Reply

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 #9 of 10
Good luck!!!! smile.gif
post #10 of 10

best wishes

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