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Ex-construction manager going rogue and finally getting into culinary arts. Woohoo!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

To piggyback off of another thread, I too will be winging a line cook position.  Fortunately, they know that I am a rookie on the line and only have about 6 months experience at a chain restaurant in the back of the house.

 

I am also coming from 24 years of experience in the construction industry, but I am done running that rat race.  Too many hard time resulting from layoffs.  Too much time away from my family.  So, needless to say, I am a 41 year old starting over in an industry that I have a passion for.  I love to cook, mind you the only experience I have is from my own kitchen.  I should have started this a long time ago.

 

Anyways, I have done my research and know the ups and down of not only the culinary arts profession as well as starting at the bottom as a short order chef.  I understand the pay is minimal, long and late hours, and the conditions behind the line.  But what I am most looking forward to is not only doing something that I have wanted to do for a long time, but the chain I will be working for wants to put me through a Kitchen Professional program and thinks we all can benefit from my years of management experience, albeit in the construction industry.  Sounds great to me.  My goal is to learn all facets of the kitchen, learn about food and food prep, and put in the hours and effort to be great at my new career.

 

With that said, I would appreciate any positive and motivating advice to help me transition into my new role and how to get good at it quick.

post #2 of 10

Be willing to learn and work hard.  Get good shoes.  :)

 

Oh wait, that's construction.  Ah same thing!  

post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 

But at least I won't need steel toes.  Thanks for the advice a good words.

post #4 of 10

A good work ethic and the ability to deal with time pressure are key, but that's something that construction has in common.  But you will have to deal with working all the times your family and friends are off (ie. nights, weekends, all the holidays).  Still, there's nothing like kitchen work.  I've never found anything as satisfying at cooking...God help me!:eek::lol:

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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post #5 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypotheles View Post
 

But at least I won't need steel toes.  Thanks for the advice a good words.


Wanna bet?

post #6 of 10

My advice would be to keep learning forever. It can be easy at some point to fall into the trap of thinking you have learned all you need to and there are many who may be derogatory because you have yet to learn this or that. This can make you become mentally defensive about looking like you don't have all the answers. 

     The truth is that there is so much to learn it is not possible to learn it all. People spend their entire careers learning only about pastry or garde manger or brewing beer. You can spend years learning about managing restaurants and have only a rudimentary knowledge of cooking. 

Cuisines from other cultures offer a rich source of learning opportunities. Ice carving is a fun skill to develop. Understanding gardening and farming develops a good appreciation for the freshness of foods. Canning, pickling and fermenting foods provides a rich learning environment. 

Developing an appreciation for wines can occupy much of your time. Entering culinary competitions is a great way to learn much about presentation and the more artistic side of the field. Candy making and sugar work is a challenging area of endeavor. 

     So I'll suggest that when you have some free time, go visit a local orchard and pick your own fruit vegetables. See the hard work the farmer goes through. Take your purchases home and make a pie and some jam or jelly or pickles. Bake loaf of bread while your beer is fermenting and your home made wine is aging and the sauerkraut is fermenting. Get some local meat in large pieces so you can butcher some of it yourself, make some of it into sausage and cure a ham and use the rest to practice your grilling, bbq and smoking techniques while you dry some fresh herbs or make infused oils and home made vinegars. Pick some lettuce from your garden for a fresh salad. Most importantly, while you're doing this, invite your friends and family over to share in the activity and its' rewards. When you get all done with that, look back over a life well spent.   

 

PS. That good shoes thing? Very important. 


Edited by chefwriter - 9/16/14 at 9:12pm
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank you Chefwriter.  Your wisdom is well taken.  I want to be very versatile in my culinary career.  I can use your info as a foundation and build it according to the path I decide to take.  I don't ask for much in life anymore.  I just want, as you said, a life well spent.

 

What kind of shoes do you recommend?  

post #8 of 10

Slip resistant. Good support for your particular feet. Solid tops to protect from spills. Easily cleaned. Good arch support. Comfortable enough to wear for twelve hours or more. A bit of trial and error will be required. Buy what seems to be good. Wear them for awhile. See how they work. 

Shoes for Crews is the company who supplies the company I currently work for and they seem to be pretty good but there are a lot of choices. 

Most important, if the shoes you just spent significant money on do not feel comfortable all day,stop wearing them. Suffering with bad shoes is worse than spending more money on the next pair. 

post #9 of 10

@Hypotheles,

Once you find the right shoe I personally think it's a good idea to buy another pair and keep them in your locker. There were 10 hour days when I had another 4 to crunch. I would change my sox and shoes and it felt like I was just coming in.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thanks you all.  I can use all the advice I can get.

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