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Advice for high volume prep cook job interview

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello all,


I was a prep cook at an Applebees which had me doing the prep for the whole restaurant, the gross sales were $35k a week, we saw probably between 300-400 customers a day during the weekends and maybe 150-200 on weekdays.  I frequently prepared cases of romaine, washed, cut, bagged, labeled, sticker'd, panned; cut 50 lbs of red skin potatoes and diced cases of tomatoes (used a dicing machine, still sharked all of them).  I thought at the time this was high volume, however, I researched the restaurant, a Ri Ra's pub ( a small New England chain), and their numbers are easily triple my old jobs.  Of course they also have more than one prep cook.


My question is:  Should I even try to impress them with my "high volume" experience?  Was what I did at Applebee's considered high volume for one person or is that just a walk in the park for others?  At the time I thought the work was tiring and physical though I enjoyed it immensely (and lost 30lbs).  I would really like to do prep full time again especially at a high volume place because I'm that kind of person who enjoys routine and the different stress of prep vs on the line. 


Also, is there any other advice for me on this job?  I am fairly good at getting calls for positions, interviews go pretty well 9/10 lead to job offers this year, so I'm not too worried about that part.  I just need to know if I'd sound silly highlighting Applebee's or if there is a different approach I could take to emphasis my skills since I worked there for 1.5 years.


Thanks in advance!!

post #2 of 7

Just be honest about the work you've done, and it won't be a problem. Bullshitting about your abilities could easily land you in dangerous waters.

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

I'm more than happy to be honest about the work I've done.  I also am fully aware of how it can backfire to highlight my experiences at a chain restaurant as if they meant anything outside of that chain.  I have no idea if the amount of prep I did alone would qualify me for the position I'm applying for so I'm asking if it is even in the realm of what the prospective restaurant considers good experience.  I have good solid knife skills and a lot of tricks for breaking down veg and some proteins though I'm more hesitant with some trickier cuts of beef for example, I don't know if it is good to mention this, to me it sounds like I have a weakness that I'm stupid enough to point out.



On a side note, I would never openly lie about my experience.  The art of landing a good job seems dependent on how well you can showcase yourself/sell yourself, your abilities.  I have this really bad habit of being too honest, which makes people question my confidence.  Every job coach I have ever had said to spin my exp in the most positive light.


How do make my prep job at Applebee's sound good enough for another employer (at a smaller chain)?  Is this even realistic for me to apply for?

post #4 of 7

Well, you haven't been very clear on what kind of place you're looking to work for, though 

you mentioned in your last "a smaller chain". 

But you sound to me like you're well on your way to being a pro level PC, due to the volume

and workload you've become used to 


I see two things that make you valuable as a prep cook. 

First, you don't mind doing it. Oh, lots of people start out that way, get in the door, then viola--

they get tired of prepping (I'm one of them lol) and wanna cook, manage or even move to the FOH. 


Second, your experience also implies you're probably adaptable to learning to prep unfamiliar

products--you already have a personal "system" down pat--if you didn't you couldn't have done what you've yourself....and kept up with the workload. 


I don't agree your prep skills would mean less "outside" the chain because you worked for applebees. 

Work is work and the skill is the skill. And to be the sole PC for a Busy-Bee's pretty much speaks for itself. 

Just go for it, be yourself and you may find yourself scooped up pretty fast by someone who cant seem to

KEEP good preppers. 

post #5 of 7

Looked at the chain and know it well, just by another name or two. There seem to be more of these in the "Irish Pub Company" tradition these days. I really liked them. It's been almost 20 years since my experience with Fado in Atlanta but there is some solid stuff cooking wise here.


Solid prep systems translate well from one concept to another so I wouldn't disconnect from any of your past or present experience. However, if your looking to change in an effort to move beyond Applebee's into something more culinary in ability, remember the level of quality and cooking technique that goes into prep production does change. Cutting, portioning and rotation is great but when you have to start with actual cooking prep, the whole world changes.


With that in mind, I would suggest touching on your current or past experience while trying to put more emphasis on highlighting your desire to improve, take on new challenges and learn a higher quality of production in the business in general. Also that you want to grow in Company to maybe move past being a prep cook. Be humble but confident in your ability to adapt to new situations and become a working and valuable part of the team. Yet, be prepared to be more than ready, willing and able to back it up. 


It's already been mentioned but it's definitely worth honest. Yeah, we've all tried to make ourselves look maybe a little better than maybe we were but you have to back it up so be careful. Personally, when it came time to do the hiring, I learned from a great deal of trial and error that you didn't always get the cook they talked about or had shown you on the resume.  This made it easier to have a desire that when I interviewed, no matter what the position, if I was hired I did my best to exceed their expectations and anything I spoke about in the interview, I backed up with actions.


Good luck!

post #6 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you!

post #7 of 7

While I was looking up the info, I noticed there is a unit in Alexandria VA. We'll be up that way in December and I'll have to see if we can take time to check it out. I really enjoy good Gaelic or traditional Irish Cuisine especially when served with a good pint and/or a dram or good whiskey

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