Hello all, I need some advice.
This fall I will be starting my final year of university working towards a degree in a field I don't want to work it. I have wanted to be a chef since I was very small and after much reflection have come to the realization that I want to switch careers before I get tied to a desk job. Unfortunately, this revelation came too late for me to transfer to a culinary school and dropping out now would be a waste of money. I have decided to try to get a job in a kitchen part time for my last year of school (nights and weekends probably) and switch to full time when I graduate; I'll work my way up through the ranks and go to culinary school when I have the money and feel I would benefit from a more structured education.
I do not make this decision lightly. I know that the hours are long, the work is hard, and the pay is minimal. I have some experience working in a kitchen but it is limited and unofficial. Whenever I'm home I help out at a family friend's restaurant (it's very small) doing almost anything and everything: dish washing, serving, busing, inventory, chopping, and some food prep. I also spent a summer working in the kitchen of the local homeless shelter for four hours a day, five days a week. I know its not comparable to the pressures of working in a large professional kitchen, I just say this to show I know what I'm getting myself into. I do not want to be a chef for the money or the chance for stardom. I want to be a chef because I love to cook and it makes me happy knowing others enjoy my food. And I perfectly happy starting out with repetitive, menial tasks.
That being said, I have read up on some of the advice in other parts of the forum and I have a question. How does one go about getting an entry level job in a kitchen with no formal training? Just as a dish washer or something similar. I looked into it at the beginning of the year and all positions seem to require either prior experience or attendance at a culinary school. Should I just go into restaurants and ask someone? What are my chances of actually finding work that way? And how does one move up in a kitchen from something like a dish washer to being on food prep or a line cook?
Any advice is welcome and appreciated!